Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Simon Hart has challenged Defra Minister Jonathan Shaw to freeze concessionary rod licenses for the next five years following huge increases since 1997, which threaten to marginalise elderly and disabled anglers.

Licences for non-migratory trout and coarse and salmon and sea trout fishing have increased by 109 and 64 per cent respectively.  Concessionary licenses for non-migratory trout and coarse and salmon and sea trout fishing licences have risen by 37 and 35 per cent respectively in last year alone.  Such an increase not only flies in the face of the Environment Agency’s strategy to get “more people, from more backgrounds, fishing more often” but threatens to undermine the Government’s statement in its Charter for Angling that “Angling is a sport, which can claim to be truly classless and meritocratic, and is especially popular with disabled people.”

Simon Hart, Countryside Alliance Chief Executive said: “There is great concern that such an inflation-busting price increase will deter many elderly and disabled anglers, who may be on fixed and low incomes, from renewing their licences and will also have a detrimental impact on the number of people taking up this important sport.  Any reduction in the number of people participating in angling risks negating the positive social, economic and environmental impacts that angling has on urban and rural communities alike.

“The Government has made too may promises to the elderly and disabled angling communities without any guarantees in the face of this huge increase.  Freezing concessionary licence fees for the next five years would not only provide reassurance to those who have been affected by this year’s price increases but it would also help to ensure that angling remains affordable and accessible to those who often gain the most from this sport; a priority which I believe both the Government and the Countryside Alliance share.”