Illegal anglers will have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide over the forthcoming May holiday weekend (May 26 – 28) as the Environment Agency cracks down on people fishing without a valid rod licence.  

“Our officers will target rivers, lakes and other waters where we believe cheats will be present,” confirmed Environment Agency Head of Fisheries Dafydd Evans.

“Our staff are better equipped than ever. With access to databases at the switch of a mobile phone enforcement officers can verify address and licence details. All this makes catching licence evaders an easier process.

“All previous licences expired on March 31; so it is very important all anglers ensure they have a valid licence before heading out to fish.”

Fishing for salmon, trout, freshwater fish and eels in England and Wales and the Border Esk in Scotland requires a licence from the Environment Agency. Failure to have a licence is an offence. Those caught fishing illegally face tough penalties, including fines of up to £2,500 and a ban from fishing.

“The rod licence fees are essential in improving and maintaining our fisheries, which is why our enforcement officers are out there checking for those who try to cheat the system. Last year, we invested approximately £29 million in fishing, with £19 million of this coming from rod licence fees paid by anglers,” continued Dafydd.

“However, a number of anglers believed a licence was valid for 12 months from the date of purchase. This is not case. All rod licences expire on March 31.”

The reminder comes after more than £600,000 was paid in fines and costs by more than 4,400 illegal anglers during 2006 for fishing without a valid rod licence. In addition 40 anglers received cautions from the courts.

For 2007/2008 a full season coarse and trout fishing licence costs just £24.50 and a salmon and sea trout licence costs £66.50. There is also a range of concessionary, junior, eight-day and one day licences. The almost three million people who receive Disability Living Allowance in England and Wales are eligible for a half price fishing licence from April 1, 2007.

Buying a new 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 phone (0870 1662662) or on-line at any time, day or night.