Six illegal Hampshire anglers had their day at Southampton Magistrates’ court on 23 January, three of them having to pay out over £800 each.
Jack Sillence of Blackfield, Southampton was caught at Mopley Pond on 5 June 2016 and fined £660 (plus £127 costs and £66 victim surcharge leading to a total bill of £853). The exact same amount was charged to Nik Sinclair of Ringwood who was apprehended on 29 May 2016 at Hightown Lake. Andrew Turner of Southsea was caught at Broadlands Lake on 29 May 2016 and fined £660 (plus £127 costs and £60 victim surcharge). None of the above entered a plea.
Environment Manager Mike O’Neill 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 £800 when an annual licence is currently just £27. 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.
Kerry Farr of Eastleigh was caught at Broadlands Lake on 29 May and after pleading guilty was fined £440 (plus £127 costs, £44 victim surcharge). Kristofer Cairns of Andover was apprehended on 21 May 2016 at John O’Gaunt, Kings Sombourne, didn’t enter a plea and was fined £600 (plus £127 costs, £60 victim surcharge). Finally, Jonathan Ramsey of Chessington pleaded guilty having been caught on 29 May at Broadlands – he was fined £500 (plus £127 costs, £50 victim surcharge).
Mike O’Neill added:
Yesterday 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.
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.
Overall, in 2015, Hampshire and Sussex enforcement officers checked 2,615 licences and reported 177 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.
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, pollution 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’s incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.