An illegal angler could have had the catch of the year with a national record size perch weighing in at 6lb 2oz – if only he had bought a rod licence and asked the fishery owner for their permission to fish.  

Today, Thursday (19 June), at North Surrey Magistrates Court, Robert Townsend was ordered to pay a total of £290 in fines and costs to the Environment Agency for fishing without a valid rod licence.

 “This sends a clear message to people who think they can fish where and when they like without a valid rod licence – it won’t be tolerated.  Over 1.3 million people pay to fish legally in England and Wales each year; these honest people help fund our work to protect and improve fish populations,” Dafydd Evans, Head of Fisheries at the Environment Agency, said.  

“It is important that anglers have their rod licences with them at all times when fishing. If you are caught fishing without one, you are cheating other anglers and could face a fine of up to £2,500.” 

Robert Townsend, 41, from Surrey, was found to be fishing illegally when he tried to make a claim for the record fish captured on 31 December 2007 at Thames Ditton, Surrey, along the River Thames. 

Any angler aged 12 years or over, fishing for salmon, trout, freshwater fish or eels in England, Wales or the Border Esk and its tributaries in Scotland must have an Environment Agency rod licence. The cost of an annual coarse and trout licence is £25.
 
Last year, the Environment Agency invested approximately £30 million in improving fish stocks and angling opportunities, with some £20 million of this coming from rod licence fees. The money raised through rod licence sales is invested directly in fisheries work that benefits all anglers.
 
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 on 0870 1662662 or from our web site – www.environment-agency.gov.uk/fish <http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/fish> . 

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