If you bought someone aged 12 years old or over a fishing rod for Christmas, make sure they have a valid rod licence before they try it out.
The reminder comes as more than 600 anglers were brought in front of the courts by the Environment Agency in January, resulting in more than £85,000 in fines and costs. In addition three anglers received cautions from the courts. 

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.

“With current full licences set to expire on March 31, it is very important at this time of year for all anglers to ensure they have a valid licence before heading out to fish,” explained Environment Agency Head of Fisheries Dafydd Evans.

“The rod licence fees are essential in improving and maintaining our fisheries in England and Wales, which is why our enforcement officers are out there checking for those who try to cheat the system. Last year, we invested approximately £30 million in fishing, with some £20 million of this coming from rod licence fees. The money raised through rod licence sales is invested directly in fisheries work that benefits all anglers.” 

Rod licences expire on March 31, 2008. 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 www.environment-agency.gov.uk/rodlicence any time, day or night.