The Environment Agency is warning those who fish illegally that the net is closing in after a recent rise in angling offences in the South East.

Over the past 6 months, our South East Fisheries Enforcement Officers have issued over 360 offence report forms to illegal anglers. This is already 40 more than this time last year. To crack down on offenders, fisheries enforcement patrols are being stepped up at rivers and fisheries across the region this summer.

Fishing illegally can incur a fine of up to £2,500 and offenders can also have their fishing equipment seized. The Environment Agency inspect rod licences 24/7, 7 days a week to check on cases of illegal fishing and those caught cheating the system face prosecution.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said:

This concerning recent rise in illegal fishing is not only harmful to fish populations but also has a detrimental effect on the environment and surrounding wildlife, as well as cheating law-abiding anglers.

People who don’t buy a licence are not only cheating other anglers and the future of the sport but are running the risk of criminal conviction and a fine. There is no excuse – it costs just £33 for a whole year, and you can buy a fishing licence online at:

We track criminals on an intelligence led basis using information gathered by ourselves, the police and other partners and reports from the public. We urge anyone to report illegal fishing as quickly as possible by calling our incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Any angler aged 13 or over, fishing on a river, canal or still water needs a licence to fish. A 1-day licence costs from just £6.60, and an annual licence currently costs from just £33 (concessions available). Junior licences are free for 13 – 16-year-olds.

The Environment Agency carries out enforcement work all year round and is supported by partners including the police and the Angling Trust. Fisheries enforcement work is intelligence-led, targeting known hot-spots and where illegal fishing is reported.

Recent prosecutions in Kent

Following cases brought by the Environment Agency in March and June 2023 at Hastings and Folkestone Magistrates, the courts have ordered four men to pay a combined total £720, in fines, £450 in costs and £288 victim surcharges. A total of £1,478. The offenders were:

  • Robert George Brealy 27, of Herne Bay was caught fishing without a licence at Longshaw Fisheries in Canterbury. Fined £247.
  • Brandan Woodger 23, of Aylesford was caught fishing without a licence at Orchard Place Farm, Tonbridge. Fined £443.
  • Rosen Vasilev 62, of Ilford was caught fishing without a licence at Hanningfield Reservoir, Chelmsford. Fined £443.
  • Marcus Taylor 28, of Tunbridge Wells was caught fishing without a licence and also fined for when fishing, failed, when required to do so, to state his name and address to a voluntary water bailiff at Elphicks Farm Lakes in Kent. Fined £345.