LICENCE sales dropped a further 11 per cent, latest figures from the annual Environment Agency Fisheries report show.

Fishing rod licence sales fell by 130,721 licences for the 2017 season part due to a new licences structure including a three rod option.

But it wasn’t all bad news as the price increase for that licence period increased revenue by a whopping 12 per cent as the EA took in an extra £2,471,026 which took income to £23 million.

The cost of a standard coarse and trout fishing rod licence rose by £3 from £27 to £30 and a full salmon fishing licence from £72 to £82.

As predicted by Angler’s Mail at the time, short term one-day and eight-day licence fishing rod licence sales fell dramatically by a huge 32 per cent, down 130,143. Prices of both rose sharply.

An EA spokesperson said: “The extra income has enabled us to improve our fishing licence sales systems and invest more money in improving fisheries this year.

“Changes in licence structures make direct comparison of different categories with the previous year difficult.

“However junior licence sales showed a marked increase as did senior sales. Junior licences were made free of charge for the first time in 2017 which may account for some of this uptake. The increase in senior licence sales in part reflects an ageing angling demographic.

“In 2017 we generated £4,427,292 more in sales than we had predicted, largely due to the rise in sales duty.

“Combined with the additional income from the previous year’s marketing campaigns we had generated an extra £4,705,390 to invest in fisheries.

“We have been successful in persuading more anglers to buy their fishing licences online with an increase of 12.25 per cent to 66.78 per cent.

“We re-recruited 3,440 lapsed anglers that generated a further £65,210 of sale.

“While many of the results we achieved this year were positive, the underlying trend of participation remains downward. We sold licences to 929,176 individual anglers a drop of 3.38 per cent in individual anglers buying licences from 2016.”

EA deputy director for fisheries Kevin Austin said: “Income from fishing licence sales is used to fund our work to protect and improve fish stocks and fisheries.

“Fishing rod licence income is vital for so much of the work we do including fisheries enforcement, fish rescues, restocking, improving habitats for fish and facilities for anglers as well as working with partners to encourage people to give fishing a go.

“Having consulted with anglers we have listened to what you want and made the biggest changes to the fishing licence for decades.

“Anglers very clearly told us that they wanted a licence which lasted for a whole 12 months, irrespective of when it was bought, and this is what we have done.

“Now when you buy a fishing licence you can chose a start date up to 60 days in advance and it will run for a full 365 days rather than expiring on March 31.”

Stockings funded by fishing rod licence

The EA stocked 45,332 less fish from Calverton Fish Farm in 2017 but put out almost double the amount of fry.

And the 358,552 fish they did stock had a significant improvement on the average size and quality of the fish. Calverton also witnessed a 97 per cent breeding success rate.
The EA stocked more than 6,335,000 million advanced larvae into rivers and lakes throughout England, which is 3,635,000 more l than 2016.

Of the maturer fish stocked, grayling surprisingly made up the biggest number at 21 per cent, followed by roach at 20 per cent and chub 16 per cent.

Barbel were the joint lowest at 3 per cent alongside rudd.

No carp are produced at Calverton, which is funded by fishing rod licence income. That was due to the number of independent fish farms producing millions of carp to be sold.

Water Framework Directive

Just 42.1 per cent of water monitored under the water Framework Directive came up showing high or good quality for fish.

But the EA say the 1,935 sites tested are in the higher risk sites.

The figure had gone up slightly from 2016 figure of 41.9 per cent but 6.4 of site received a poor rating, 24.3 per cent poor and 27.2 per cent moderate.
Environmental campaigner and former barbel record holder Ray Walton said: “Despite the good and high status going up 0.2 per cent, the figures still show well over half the water habitat is of poor quality.

“The EA should make sure water firms, businesses and farmers don’t pollute the environment with strict fines and even prison sentences for the worst cases.”

Facts about fishing rod licence money

  • Funded 37,000 fishing lessons for novices.
  • Installed 61 fish passes opening up 1,128km of habitat for fish.
  • The National Fisheries Laboratory assessed fish from 56 stillwaters collected by EA officers at fish kills.
  • Supported the Riverfly Partnership monitoring macro invertebrates at 1,850 sites.
  • £284,000 of fishing licence income was distributed to 51 projects for fish protection from otters and cormorants.
  • 39 venues given otter-proof fencing. These projects attracted over £532,000 of additional match funding.

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