Enforcement teams made checks on 868 waters across England and Wales between 30 April and 2 May and caught over 800 illegal anglers who are cheating honest anglers and not playing the sport fairly.
Fishing without a licence is an offence and those caught fishing illegally will face tough penalties, including fines of up to £ 2,500 and a ban from fishing. The message is sinking in with evading anglers, as the rate of evasion dropped from 7.93% in the May 2004 blitz to 6.9% this time round.
Environment Agency Head of Fisheries Dafydd Evans said “Environment Agency inspectors checked over 12,000 licences at over 800 locations this weekend and officers targeted waters better and directed maximum effort to waters where cheats would be present. We picked up more than 850 rod licence offences over the bank holiday weekend. People who fish without a licence are cheating the system and their fellow anglers. We will continue vigorously with our blitz programme to bring rod licence evasion down.
“All rod licence money gets ploughed back into fisheries work which benefits all anglers, fish stocks and the waterside environment, and we will continue with our efforts to safeguard this essential income.”
Anglers on almost half of all waters visited had no offences detected. An officer patrolling the River Cam spotted anglers fishing on the opposite bank. He flagged down a passing boat, hitched a lift and issued them both with tickets for fishing without a licence. Enforcement officers were also pleased to see that more ladies were seen out fishing than in previous years, demonstrating what a popular and inclusive sport fishing can be.
Dafydd went on to say “Our staff are better equipped than ever. With access to databases at the switch of a mobile phone, enforcement officers can verify address and licence details – including whether they purchased a licence the previous year. All this makes catching licence evaders an easier process.”
Buying a licence couldn’t be easier – there are around 15,000 Post Offices and other outlets which sell them direct, and for a small additional charge they can be purchased over the phone (0870 1662662) or from our web site – www.environment-agency.gov.uk/fish
Rod licences are available from:
1. Every Post Office in England and Wales 2. By telephone (for Full and Junior Concessionary licences only) on 0870 1662 662 3. On-line (for Full, Junior Concessionary, 8-day and 1-day licences only) at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/rodlicence
4. Through Direct Debit (for Full and Concessionary licences only) at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/rodlicence. There is also a Direct Debit helpline on 01925 542 400.
Anglers are eligible for a concessionary licence if:
1. Aged 12 to 16 inclusive (Junior)
2. Aged 65 years or over (Senior)
3. Have a blue badge
Blue badges are available to those who:
1. Receive the higher rate of the mobility component of the disability Living Allowance 2. Receive War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement 3. Are registered blind 4. Have a motor vehicle supplied for disabled people by a Government Health Department 5. Have a severe disability in both upper limbs, regularly drive a motor vehicle but cannot turn the steering wheel of a motor vehicle by hand even if that wheel is fitted with a turning knob 6. Have a permanent and substantial disability, which means you are unable to walk, or have very considerable difficulty in walking.