More than 1.3 million people took to the bankside in 2008 fully armed with a fishing rod and licence in a bid to find credit crunch-friendly entertainment that won’t break the bank.
Rod licence sales hit a record high last year and are predicted to increase by a further 26,000 this year as cash-strapped consumers seek out cheap alternatives to increasingly expensive trips to the cinema, football and theatre.
At just £25 for a full year’s coarse fishing licence, and with rod and line packages starting from around £30, fishing is becoming the price-savvy consumer’s pastime of choice, coming in at under £5 a month. Annually, that’s £40 cheaper than a monthly trip to the cinema (without overpriced snacks), over £300 cheaper than a monthly theatre ticket, and over £500 cheaper than a premier league season ticket.
Mat Crocker, Head of Fisheries at the Environment Agency, said: “Angling is one of the most popular participator sports in the world – and is a cheap, healthy and environmentally friendly pastime that everyone can enjoy. It brings huge social and community benefits as well as contributing to the conservation and biodiversity of our waterways.
“Environment Agency research also shows that anglers generate around £1billion in revenue every year – a vital contribution to the UK economy. “
Rod licence sales generate over £23 million in revenue each year, which the Environment Agency ploughs directly back into the sport.
The £25 rod licence fee helps pay for habitat improvement works, fisheries research, monitoring and advice to owners on fish stocks. It also funds the specialist equipment used in fish rescues and enforcement to protect fish stocks, as well as the Environment Agency’s fish farms at Calverton and Leyland. These fish farms provide hundreds of thousands of fish which are stocked to improve popular angling spots and rivers across England and Wales.
Improved river quality over the past decade has also helped boost fish stocks for the sport – for example, salmon numbers in England and Wales have increased by 40,000 in the last ten years thanks to better water quality and improved habitats.
Buying a new rod licence couldn’t be easier – around 15,000 Post Offices and other outlets sell them; a direct debit can be set up, and they can be purchased over the telephone on 0870 166 2662. Alternatively buy online at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/rodlicence any time, day or night.
The first rod licences were issued in the 1860s for the newly created fishery districts. Much like today, they were available to buy at the post office. The cost of a licence varied across the districts and a licence had to be purchased for every district in which you fished. A national rod licence was introduced 1992, allowing anglers to fish anywhere in England and Wales with just one licence.
For more information about fishing in England and Wales visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk/fish.