On 4 July 2017 at Nuneaton Magistrates’ Court, Matthew Hitches of Harvest Fields Way, Sutton Coldfield was fined £220 for fishing without a licence. Hitches was also ordered to pay costs of £580.17 and a victim surcharge of £30 following a prosecution by the Environment Agency.
The offence took place on 17 September 2016 at Kingsbury Water Park.
At his initial hearing on 25 April, Hitches, aged 40, entered a plea of not guilty which forced the case to go to trial. This accounted for the high costs awarded in this case. Hitches failed to attend the court for his trial and the case against him was proved in his absence.
Andrew Eardley from the Environment Agency said:
The majority of anglers fish legally. The minority of anglers that fail to buy a fishing licence are cheating their fellow anglers and the future of the sport.
An annual licence costs just £30. It seems ridiculous that anglers risk significant fines and costs, a criminal conviction and the loss of their fishing equipment for such a small fee.
Money from fishing 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 re-stocking; eradicating invasive species; and fish habitat improvements. Licence money is also used to fund the Angling Trust to provide information about fishing and to encourage participation in the sport.
You need a valid Environment Agency rod licence to fish for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eel in England. Buying a rod licence is easy, simply visit buy a rod licence on GOV.UK.
Anyone witnessing illegal fishing incidents in progress can report it directly to the Environment Agency hotline on 0800 80 70 60. Information on illegal fishing and environmental crime can also be reported anonymously to Crime stoppers on 0800 555 111.