Photo: Legal angler, Eddy Edmondson
Environment Agency enforcement teams have continued their clampdown on illegal fishing, carrying out more than 30 patrols across the region and 2 rod license ‘blitzes’ over the May bank holiday weekends.
May falls within the coarse fishing ‘close season’ – which runs from 15 March to 15 June – when coarse angling is suspended on rivers, streams, and specified canals and stillwaters to protect spawning fish.
Sarah Chare, Environment Agency head of fisheries, said: “Our enforcement teams have been in out in force – particularly over the last couple of bank holidays – and will continue to be over the coming months. The number of anglers caught red-handed is testament to how seriously we take illegal fishing but worryingly it shows a blatant disregard for the law and the health of fisheries.
“People who don’t buy a licence are not only cheating other anglers and the future of the sport but running the risk of criminal conviction and a fine. There is no excuse – it costs just £27 for a whole year and you can buy it from the Post Office website.”
The Environment Agency’s work is intelligence-led, meaning that work is targeted in known illegal hotspots and in areas where there are reports of evasion.
Darren Bedworth, Fisheries Technical Specialist, said: “The number of anglers found illegally fishing in the Blackpool area during the end of May bank holiday was extremely high, when we caught 19 people red handed in this area alone. We hope that the number of people caught will be a deterrent to other anglers illegally fishing and we would urge people to help us protect local fish stocks by reporting illegal activity to our in incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”
Some facts and stats:
- The May bank holiday weekends are a particularly popular time for anglers across Cumbria and Lancashire. Over the two bank holiday weekends, Environment Agency teams made 61 visits to waters across the two counties, served more than 62 report forms for illegal fishing and checked more than 628 anglers for rod licences.
- Between the 2nd and 5th May, our local Environment Agency officers visited 16 waters across Blackpool and Lancaster area and the main lakes in the Lake District. 182 anglers were checked for rod licences and 16 offence report forms were served for illegal fishing.
- Between 23rd and 25th May, Environment Agency officers visited 45 waters across Lancashire, including: Preston, Chorley, Blackburn, Accrington, Southport, Blackpool and Ribble areas. 446 anglers were checked for rod licenses and 46 offence report forms were served for illegal fishing.
- Nationally, last year (2014/2015), Environment Agency officers checked more than 70,000 licences and prosecuted more than 2,100 licence cheats. Between them, they were ordered to pay fines and costs in excess of £500,000.
Money raised from rod licence sales is invested in England’s fisheries, including a wide range of projects to improve facilities for anglers, manage predation, protect stocks from illegal fishing, plus fish restocking, invasive species eradication, habitat improvements, and working with partners to encourage people to take-up fishing for the first time.
The maximum fine for fishing without a licence is £2,500 – whereas annual rod licences for trout and coarse fishing remain at £5 for 12 to 16 year olds, £18 for senior and disabled concessions and £27 for non-concessions. Children under 12 can fish for free. Buying a licence online from the Post Office website saves time and administration costs, which means more of the income can be spent on improving fish stocks and fishing.
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