The Environment Agency has promised its biggest ever clampdown on licence dodging this weekend (May 25/26) after a check in the south of England revealed one in ten were fishing illegally.

The EA says licence dodging is costing them over £1million a year, and have also said those found guilty will face hefty penalties. Another swoop is threatened early in June.

During the last Bank Holiday nearly 1700 were checked at fisheries across Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. As a result 137 anglers are facing prosecution for failing to produce a licence.

“This new phase of action if geared to put more pressure on anglers to fish within the law because every penny of the licence money goes back into the sport and it’s greatly needed,” said EA head of fisheries Dr David Clarke.

“In May last year licence evasion was high, which was partly down to reduced fishing opportunities due to foot and mouth. But now there are no excuses.”

The Agency carried out 11,851 checks during the three day blitz last May and prosecuted 989 anglers for either not having a licence or failing to produce one.