EIGHT anglers who tried to avoid paying £21 for rod licences have received fines and costs of up to £230 at Dartford Magistrates’ Court.

The prosecutions were the result of checks in the Dartford area in February and March and come as we await the results of a publicised nationwide blitz on illegal fishing last weekend.

In a similar crackdown during the Bank Holiday at the beginning of May, EA officers checked 1675 anglers and 137 could not produce valid licences when asked.

Steven James (20) of Goldcrest Close, Thamesmead, London was found guilty in his absence of fishing without a valid rod licence on February 17 at Brooklands Lake, Dartford. Mr James was fined £150 and had costs of £80 awarded against him.

Sam Cable (22) of Cygnet Gardens, Northfleet, Kent and Daniel Chandler (32) of Dorchester Close, Dartford, pleaded guilty by post to fishing without a valid rod licence on the same date at the same venue. They were fined £100 and had costs of £80 awarded against them.

Kevin Clarke (20) of Attlee Drive, Dartford, Kent pleaded guilty by post to fishing without a licence on February 8 at Cotton Farm, Dartford. Mr Clarke was fined £100 and had costs of £80 awarded against him.

Gareth Philpott (21) of Hampton Court, Stelling Road, Erith, Kent was found guilty in his absence of fishing without a valid rod licence on March 7 this year at Brooklands Lake. Mr Philpott was fined £150 and had costs of £80 awarded against him.

Melvyn Thomas (33) of Beaver Road, Allington, Maidstone, Kent pleaded guilty by post to fishing without a valid rod licence on the same date and at the same venue. He was fined £100 and had costs of £80 awarded against him.

Steven Sweetingham (23) of North Crescent, Southend on Sea pleaded guilty by post to fishing without a valid rod licence on February 22 again at Brooklands Lake. He was fined £50 and had costs of £80 awarded against him.

Ian Walkling (37) of Oakley Drive, New Eltham, London was found guilty in his absence of fishing without a valid rod licence on the same date again at Brooklands. He was fined £150 and had costs of 380 awarded against him.

Jim Roden, from the Agency’s Legal Team said: “It’s so easy to get hold of a rod licence, either from the local post office, over the phone or even from the EA’s website. It’s hard to understand why so many people take the risk; it’s just not worth it. Fishing without a rod licence really is a false economy – you will get caught – it’s that simple.

“The Rod Licence system is an important means of financing the valuable work that the Agency’s Fisheries team does to maintain and develop fish stocks, the riverbank and investing in fishing for urban areas. Avoiding paying the rod licence fee is simply robbing your fellow angler.”

The full non-migratory trout and coarse licences for 2002/2003 costs £21 for 12 months and a concessionary licence for senior and eligible disabled anglers is £10.50. Last year the Agency cut the price of the junior coarse and trout licence to £5 and this, they say, has been very successful in encouraging youngsters to take up the sport.

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