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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fisheries-annual-report-2018-to-2019/fisheries-annual-report-2018-to-2019
1. What we’ve done with our resources
For every £1 of fishing licence money we invested in projects, we secured an additional £28.67 to invest in fisheries and angling.
During the financial year 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 we sold 955,310 fishing licences. This generated an income of £21,347,795. We also received £1,100,000 grant-in-aid from central government.
With this money we were able to:
- check 64,074 fishing licences
- make 1,692 successful prosecutions
- attend 950 fisheries incidents
- carry out 1,992 fish stock surveys
- supply and stock 520,819 coarse fish
- work with almost 1,700 different partners
- invest over £33,500,000 in fisheries projects including partners’ contributions and additional government funding
- complete 104 fish pass solutions
- open up or improve 1,058 kilometres (km) of riverine habitats for fish
- enhance 87 hectares (ha) of stillwater fisheries
2. The activities we’ve spent the money on
We provided 27.7% of income to deliver work in all of our 14 Areas. This includes monitoring, enforcement, fish stocking, fish rescues, responding to incidents and providing fisheries advice.
We have contributed 25.9% of our income towards the fisheries project portfolio. This includes funding the partnership work we do with organisations. Examples of these are the Angling Trust, the Wild Trout Trust and the local Rivers Trusts plus many others. This also includes funding angling and fisheries improvement projects.
We have invested 20.4% of our income on support services. These include the costs of IT infrastructure, finance, corporate services and human resources.
We have spent 15.4% on national services. We aim to be efficient and get these activities right first time – licence sales, administration and prosecutions. This expenditure also covers the costs of the National Fisheries Laboratory. And contributions to our National Customer Contact Centre and the Estates and Fleet Operations.
We’ve used 10.7% to support government and input to the strategic direction for achieving our fisheries priority outcomes. This includes the costs of our national Fisheries team.
3. Fishing licence sales and income
This graph shows the total income and total sales from 2000 to 2019.
Since the financial year 2010 to 2011 the number of people that go fishing and buy licences has declined each year. This has led to a fall in our income from sales by 11.5% since that time. During that period we increased prices just once in 2017. This is because we wanted to encourage angling and not make it cost prohibitive.
We will review licence charges again in 2021.
As income has declined we’ve had less money to spend on fisheries. However, we have managed to restrict the effects of this through efficiency savings and better partnership working.
In 2018 to 2019 we sold 955,310 licences to 847,846 individual anglers. This generated £21,347,795 income. In 2018 we raised the age for requiring a licence from 12 to 13. This has affected sales compared to previous years.
4. How partnerships help us achieve our objectives
By working in partnership with other groups and organisations we can often achieve common fisheries objectives. This means our resources can stretch further.
We work with 1,700 partners. These include the:
- Angling Trust
- Wild Trout Trust
- Institute of Fisheries Management
- Riverfly Partnership
- local river trusts, angling clubs, charities and others
Other work we do with partners includes:
- intelligence gathering for enforcement
- completing fisheries improvement projects
- giving more people the opportunity to start fishing
The Angling Trust
We contract the Angling Trust to deliver much of our work to improve and develop angling under our National Angling Strategic Services (NASS). The contract is worth £1,300,000 per year. It was awarded following competitive tender.
They deliver a wide range of services. One of their main aims is to increase the number of anglers. The Angling Trust organises a number of ‘Get Fishing’ events during the year. In 2018 to 2019 about 37,000 people tried fishing for the first time at 1,095 of these angling participation events.
They also trained a number of people who help introduce people to angling, including:
- 186 new level 1 licenced coaches
- 48 new level 2 licenced coaches
- 18 club welfare officers and 128 quality assured volunteers
This has generated £451,859 in match funding to deliver coaching.
They have engaged with anglers by:
- holding 32 fisheries forums around the country
- responding to 847 requests for predator control advice, including 238 site visits
- responding to 10 requests to help remove otters from fisheries
- issuing 18 area based cormorant control licences with a further 9 in progress – these licences cover a wider area and are not specific to a particular fishery
The Angling Trust also runs the Building Bridges project. This helps eastern European anglers understand the rules and traditions of English angling. It also helps them integrate in the wider angling community. The Trust has:
- worked with 350 Polish and Lithuanian children
- distributed 4,600 leaflets
- produced and distributed 200 multilingual signs
Eighteen eastern European anglers have now joined the Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS).
The Trust has also input to wider environmental benefits, for example, they’ve:
- run 5 anti-litter campaigns which have received 1,640 website visits
- issued invasive species advice – this has received over 13,000 views
- seen 200 fishing tackle shops join the angler’s line recycling scheme
Wild Trout Trust (WTT)
We have enjoyed many productive years of working together with the WTT. Our joint aim is to involve people and communities in conservation. This includes enhancing the natural environment, especially our rivers, their trout and other wildlife.
We contributed £90,000 to fund advisory work and £67,000 for project costs. In 2018 to 2019 they have:
- involved 1,200 volunteers
- delivered 18 projects
- held 17 practical workshops
- made 76 advisory visits
- improved 300km of river
- generated £925,000 of match funding
The Riverfly Partnership
The Anglers’ Riverfly Monitoring Initiative is a citizen science initiative. Volunteers are trained to carry out standardised monitoring of aquatic invertebrates in rivers. They do this monthly and use it to assess water quality.
We provided the Riverfly Partnership £51,000 funding.
In 2018 to 2019 they have:
- involved 3,400 volunteers
- run 65 training workshops
- surveyed 2,295 sites
- submitted 154 pollution reports
- generated £661,276 in match funding
The Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM)
On our behalf the IFM ran a programme of stillwater fishery management workshops across the country. They aimed to provide angling clubs and fisheries managers the knowledge and tools to help them better manage their waters. Also to reduce the risk of fisheries incidents.
We provided £13,736 funding. In 2018 to 2019 they have:
- held 6 weekend fisheries management workshops
- presented to 254 delegates from 138 different organisations
5. Improvement projects
There are 2 types of projects funded directly by fishing licence income, they are:
- Angling Improvement Fund (AIF) projects managed by the Angling Trust through the NASS contract
- Fisheries Improvements Programme (FIP) projects managed by local Environment Agency teams
In addition, benefits to fisheries were provided by other projects carried out by the Environment Agency. Most notably the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the Water Environment Improvement Fund (WEIF). WEIF delivered Water Framework Directive outcomes funded as grant-in-aid from central government.
Fifty eight projects were completed during the year. The type of projects funded included prevention of predation and improving access for disabled anglers.
The funding for AIF projects came from:
- licence income – £296,347
- match funding including cash from partners, match funding grants or the ‘in kind’ time of volunteers – £466,912
See the map for locations of the projects.
Eighty four projects were completed during the year. Working with 188 partners we improved 34km of rivers and 57ha of stillwaters. Twelve barriers to fish movements were removed. Eight projects were delivered to improve access to fisheries.
The funding of FIP projects came from:
- fishing licence income – £514,000
- match funding – £596,918
European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF)
The European Union provided a budget for EMFF. Its aim is to support the fishing industry. A small proportion was available for freshwater projects to improve fish movements and provide economic benefits.
We developed a programme of work prioritising barriers which needed investment to design and build fish movement solutions. Thirteen fish passes were built or obstructions removed. This opened up 170km of river and improved 20km of river.
The funding of EMFF projects came from:
- £203,000 of fishing licence income
- £3,100,000 generated from match funding
See the map for locations of the FIP and EMFF projects.
Water Environment Improvement Fund (WEIF)
Projects are typically organised through catchment partnerships. Habitat improvements can benefit fish and fisheries.
Working with 1,289 partners we improved 534km of rivers and 30ha of stillwaters. Seventy one fish passes were built or barriers removed.
The funding for WEIF projects was:
- £9,337,640 from Environment Agency funding (not fishing licence income)
- £17,352,888 from match funding
6. Fish stocking
We run a coarse fish hatchery at Calverton near Nottingham. This rears fish to help:
- replenish stocks after an incident
- kick-start the recovery of fisheries after they’ve recovered from long term issues
This is funded by fishing licence income. We have stocked 520,819 fish around the country of which:
- 123,398 – barbel
- 101,397 – roach
- 96,615 – chub
- 56,750 – grayling
- 56,416 – common bream
- 39,116 – dace
- 22,475 – crucian carp
- 16,950 – tench
- 7,702 – rudd
In addition, we released 6,905,000 advanced stage fish larvae.
We run a salmon hatchery at Kielder. This is to mitigate the loss of spawning ground on the River Tyne when Kielder reservoir was built. This is not funded by fishing licence income. The hatchery produced 416,986 juvenile salmon. They were used to stock the River Tyne and its tributaries.
7. Fisheries laboratory
We operate a fisheries laboratory in Brampton which is funded by fishing licence income. This laboratory carries out vital work, it:
- regulates fish movements
- checks the health status of fish stocks and individual fish to minimise the risk of spreading fish diseases
The laboratory also issues licences for commercial fishing and collates rod catch returns from salmon and sea trout anglers.
In 2018 the laboratory:
- carried out 160 fish age surveys to assess the status of the population
- examined 11,858 sets of fish scales to determine the age structure of fish populations
- issued 2,260 Section 27A authorisations to remove fish and crayfish
- issued 201 commercial salmon and sea trout licences
- issued 417 commercial elver licences
- issued 59 commercial eel licences
- collated and reported on 20,736 rod catch returns
We spent some of our income on enforcement action. We must do this to ensure anglers contribute fairly to:
- the work we do on their behalf
- make sure they comply with regulations to protect fish stocks, such as during the close season
- checked 66,074 fishing licences
- issued 2,543 offence reports
- prosecuted 1,692 anglers for fishing without a licence
The percentage of anglers who avoid getting a licence is 3.92%. In total £275,516.50 was issued in penalties against anglers over the year. The average penalty received was £168.20.
An integral part of our enforcement activity is the Fisheries Enforcement Support Service provided by the Angling Trust. This includes the VBS which operates across all of England with a total of 393 volunteers (as of 31 March 2019).
- did 11,974 patrols
- gave 27,996 volunteer hours on the bank
- submitted 423 reports to the Environment Agency
In addition 39 police forces have joined up to Operation Leviathan and Traverse.
When it comes to anti-poaching activity, we recognise that all rural crime is likely to be carried out by the same people. Working alongside police, Revenue and Customs, the Association of Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities and other agencies has resulted in improved ways of working and better outcomes for all.
9. Incident response
We attended 950 incidents involving dead or dying fish. These incidents included:
- illegal fishing – 1.47%
- pollution – 40.42%
- prolonged dry weather – 4.84%
- outbreaks of fish disease or other fish kills, including warm weather or lack of oxygen – 50.84%
- other – 2.42%
Fish stock monitoring:
- helps inform our management decisions
- helps us report on the Water Framework objectives we must deliver to show the state of the water environment
We do surveys every 3 years on individual water bodies. Not every water body is monitored for fish as we must prioritise those considered at higher risk.
During the year we did 1,992 fish stock surveys.
Water body status as indicated by these surveys and other data showed:
- 42.1% – good or better
- 27.2% – moderate
- 24.3% – poor
- 6.4% – bad
We also use our fisheries monitoring to assess the status of migratory fish stocks in our main salmon and sea trout rivers. We employ a range of fish counters and also use rod catch data to make these assessments.
We assessed that 38 out of our 42 main salmon rivers are ‘at risk’ or ‘probably at risk’. None were categorised as ‘not at risk’.
For the 44 main sea trout rivers, we classified 22 as ‘not at risk’ and ‘probably not at risk’, 20 rivers were ‘probably at risk’ and 2 were ‘at risk’.
This status is a decline compared with 2017.
The declared salmon rod catch for England was 6,489, which is 37% down on 2017 (10,336).
The declared sea trout rod catch in England for 2018 was 8,262, which is 32% less than 2017 (12,202).
We report all data for salmon and sea trout in The Annual Assessment of Salmon Stocks and Fisheries in England and Wales. You can find information on rod catches from individual rivers in our Salmonid and freshwater fisheries statistics reports for England and Wales.
11. Research and development
Our research and development programme helps to ensure we:
- have a rigorous evidence base to support risk-based decision making
- deliver sustainable fisheries management
In 2018 to 2019 our research focussed on these 3 main areas:
Coarse fish and fisheries
We did research on the:
- environmental DNA (eDNA) tools for lake classification
- value of freshwater angling in England
- review of the coarse fish close season
- strategic review of coarse fish data
We did research on:
- International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) salmon stocks reporting
- review of salmon assessment methodology
- salmonid juvenile abundance
- review of river temperature monitoring networks
- oestrogenic impacts in fish
- environmental impacts of microplastics
None of this research was funded by fishing licence income.