Environment Agency enforcement officers were out in force over the May Day bank holiday weekend in a bid to catch the few anglers who fish without a rod licence.
Every year, nearly 1 million anglers fish legally, respecting each other and the sport. The money they pay to buy a licence supports fisheries and angling and protects the future of the sport. A small number of anglers refuse to buy a licence, cheating their fellow anglers.
Over the bank holiday weekend, across England, Environment Agency enforcement officers targeted more than 380 locations, checked more than 3,000 licences and reported more than 230 anglers for fishing illegally.
For the minority who flout the rules, the most common offence is fishing without a valid licence. Fishing without a valid licence could land you with a fine of up to £2,500 and a criminal record.
Last year in England, the Environment Agency checked more than 62,000 rod licences and prosecuted more than 1,900 anglers for rod and line offences resulting in fines and costs in excess of £500,000.
Sarah Chare, Head of Fisheries at the Environment Agency, said:
We are passionate about making the sport of angling the best it can be and we take our job of protecting angling, fisheries and the environment very seriously. The vast majority of anglers who fish legally deserve to see those who flout the law brought to account. To that criminal minority our message is clear; we won’t hesitate to take action to stop illegal fishing.
Nearly 1 million anglers have a rod licence and legally enjoy the sport of fishing; we’re urging everyone to get their licence online before they next go fishing.
Any angler aged 12 or over, fishing on a river, canal or still water needs a licence. A full rod licence costs from just £27 (concessions available). You can buy your rod licence online from the Post Office, at your local Post Office or by phoning 0344 800 5386.
Money from rod licence sales is invested in England’s fisheries, and is used to fund a wide range of projects to improve facilities for anglers including: protecting stocks from illegal fishing, predation and disease, restoring fish stocks through restocking, eradicating invasive species, and fish habitat improvements. Rod licence money is also used to fund the Angling Trust to provide information about fishing and to encourage participation in the sport.
To help crack down on unlicensed fishing the Environment Agency urges anyone to report illegal activity by calling the Environment Agency Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
The coarse fish close season runs until the 16 June on rivers, streams, drains, some canals and specified stillwaters. Information on close seasons and other byelaws can be found here. If you want to continue to fish while the coarse season is closed you can visit many stillwaters and canals, depending on landowner agreement.