Buying a rod licence is much cheaper than ending up in court, say Environment Agency Wales, as 52 individuals are set to be prosecuted in the next month.
The illegal anglers were all caught by the Agency’s Enforcement Officers patrolling rivers and fisheries across Wales.
Illegal anglers are damaging the sport for law abiding fishermen in Wales. Last year, Environment Agency Wales ploughed £300,000 of rod licence funds back into the sport.
The money from the sale of rod licences is used to increase the amount of fish in Welsh fisheries, improving facilities, creating access for disabled anglers and introducing people into the sport.
Environment Agency Wales is also carrying out projects to improve the habitats for fish so that they can breed and grow successfully.. This work is delivered by the Agency-led Sustainable Fisheries Project, which receives funding each year from the Welsh Assembly Government.
The Agency is carrying out work to complete fish passes at many weirs throughout Wales. The weirs stop fish, including salmon and sea trout, from reaching their spawning grounds.
The new fish passes, some complete and others still under construction, will mean fish populations recovering in stretches of water higher up the river.
Andy Schofield, Strategy and Policy Manager, Environment Agency Wales, said:
“Our officers patrol fishing spots across Wales and they will ask to see your licence. If you haven’t got one – you will be prosecuted.
“The average fine an illegal angler will pay if they get caught is £150, and they will be left with a criminal conviction. A licence for coarse fishing for a whole season is only £25. Is it worth the risk ?
“The money we get from licence sales is invested back into the sport, creating better places for people to go fishing and more fish to catch. Illegal anglers really do spoil it for everyone else.”
Any angler aged 12 years or more who fishes any water in England and Wales is required to hold a valid rod licence. Licences are available from every Post Office, on-line from the Environment Agency at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/fish or by calling the Agency’s ticket ‘telesales’ on 0870 166 2662.