THE latest annual Environment Agency fisheries report has revealed angling is in good shape, with 955,310 rod licences sold for the 2018-19 year, raising £21million.

There was a drop to 847,846 individual anglers buying an Environment Agency rod licence in 2018-19.

That was down from 929,176 for the 2017-18 year, and sits well down from the 1.47 million peak in 2009-10.

But the picture isn’t all doom and gloom…

Figures show that angler numbers actually aren’t that far down from the 2000/01 year of 1.09 million licences sold.

It’s well worth noting that 2018 was when the three-rod specimen licence option at £45 was introduced, mainly for carp anglers.

Another key change saw the junior age to have a free Environment Agency rod licence being raised from 12 to 13-years-old.

Fisheries chief’s views on importance of licence

Environment Agency fisheries chief Kevin Austin said: “It’s no secret that fishing is having to compete with high-tech entertainment and social change, including an ageing population, to attract people down to the riverbank.

“But being outdoors is good for our health, interacting with nature teaches us a lot about our environment and, through rod licence sales, anglers are really at the heart of protecting and improving the very things that they care about – a great return for £30, the cost of an annual fishing licence.

“Income from fishing licence sales is vital to fund our work to protect and improve fisheries and support the sport of angling.

“This includes improving habitats for fish, facilities for anglers and tackling illegal fishing,” he added.

The Environment Agency fisheries chief’s Kevin Austin.

The report also revealed that the EA checked 66,074 fishing licences, issued 2,543 offence reports and prosecuted 1,692 anglers for unlicensed fishing.

In total, £275,516 was issued in penalties by the courts, at an average of £168.20. The percentage of licence dodgers was 3.92 per cent.

Voluntary bailiffs from the Angling Trust, under EA training, also carried out 11,974 patrols for a total of 27,996 hours on the bank and submitted 423 reports to the EA.

Stockings paid by Environment Agency rod licence

The EA stocked 520,819 adult fish in 2018-19, a massive increase from the 358,552 that they put out in 2017.

In addition, they released 6,905,000 advanced-stage fish larvae from their Calverton Fish Farm, in Nottinghamshire.

The largest number was a huge 123,398 barbel, with roach being second, 101,397, and chub third, 96,615.

Grayling got a boost of 56,750, then 56,416 bream, 39,116 dace, 22,475 crucian carp, 16,950 tench and 7,702 rudd.

They also produced 416,986 juvenile salmon, from their hatchery at Kielder, in Northumberland. This was funded externally and not from Environment Agency rod licence income.

Environment Agency rod licence fish farm

Environment Agency rod licence money paid for work done by Calverton, the EA’s impressive fish farm.

Other key Environment Agency rod licence stats

  • £33.5million spent in fisheries, including partner contributions and additional Government funding.
  • 1,992 fish stock surveys carried out.
  • 1,058 km of river habitat opened up or improved for fish.
  • 87 hectares of stillwater fisheries enhanced.
  • 104 fish passes made.
  • 950 fish rescues carried out.
  • 37,000 newcomers introduced to fishing.

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