The 2 illegal Kent anglers had their day at Maidstone Magistrates Court last Thursday (23 March), with one of them now having to pay out over £600.
Bill Haythorpe of Yalding, Maidstone was caught at Monk Lakes, Staplehurst on 18 August 2016 and fined £440 for 2 offences (fishing without a licence and failing to state his address) plus £127 costs and £30 victim surcharge leading to a total bill of £597.
Ryan Zuczok of Chatham was caught fishing without a licence on the Medway in Maidstone on 20 August 2016 and fined £440 plus £127 costs and £44 victim surcharge, a grand total of £611. This was the second time Mr Zuczok was apprehended within a month. He had previously been caught on 23 July 2016, also on the Medway. Neither Mr Haythorpe nor Mr Zuczok entered a plea.
Environment Manager Dave Willis said:
We are seeing higher and higher fines for fishing without a licence. It makes no sense to have the embarrassment of a court visit, a criminal conviction and a bill for over £600 when an annual licence is just £30 (post 1 April 2017). We think these cheats will think twice before picking up a rod illegally again and if they don’t, our officers are ready and waiting.
The money from licence sales supports fish, fisheries and fishing, and protects the future of the sport. A small number of anglers refuse to buy a licence, cheating the sport and their fellow anglers. 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.
Dave Willis added:
Last Thursday was a good day for the near million anglers that fish legally every year, respecting each other and the sport. There really is no excuse; if you don’t have a licence, pick one up from the post office or online, before we pick you up.
In Kent, South London, Surrey and East Sussex, since April 2016 our fisheries enforcement officers have checked 4,252 licences and reported 269 people for fishing illegally.
Last year, in England, the Environment Agency checked over 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.
From 1 April 2017 a full rod licence costs from just £30 (concessions available) and a junior rod licence (for 12 to 16 year olds) is free. You can buy your rod licence from 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, mitigating pollution and disease, restoring fish stocks through restocking, control of 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.
For more information, contact the press office on 0800 141 2743.