FIGURES released to Angler’s Mail by the Environment Agency show that the number of prosecutions for rod licence offences has dropped significantly.
The total number of prosecutions of rod licence dodgers for the 2018/2019 season was 1,691 whereas in 2017/2018 the figure was 2,257.
That represents a reduction of 25.1 per cent.
For both seasons, the EA carried out roughly the same number of licence inspections, of around 65,000 anglers nationwide.
Overall fines paid by rod licence dodgers has also reduced, but by a lesser amount of 15.1 per cent, from £323,033 down to £274,535. All of this money goes to the Treasury, not the EA.
This meant the average fine paid by rod licence dodgers went up from £143.1 in the 2017/2018 period to £162.3 in the season after.
The amounts do not include court costs and victim surcharges, which normally get added on and can double the original fine.
An EA spokesperson said: “People who don’t buy a licence are not only cheating other anglers and the future of the sport, but run the risk of a criminal conviction and a fine.
“There’s no excuse – a fishing licence costs just £30 for a whole year, and you can buy it online at GOV.UK.
“We track criminals on an intelligence-led basis using information gathered by ourselves, the Police and other partners, and reports from the public.
“We urge anyone to report illegal fishing as quickly as possible by calling our incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60,” he concluded.
Fear of detection grows amongst potential rod licence dodgers
Dilip Sarkar, head of enforcement at the Angling Trust, commented: “The reduction in prosecutions is very good news, and shows that the various measures we have been taking are working.
“The whole picture is a complex one – and for a start we must take into account that there are fewer rod licences sold, meaning that fewer people are going fishing. That is a factor we cannot ignore.
“Our overall strategy is based on the following: empowering and upskilling the angling community; raising awareness throughout the Police service and criminal justice system (thereby increasing intelligence-sharing, partnership-working and the administration of more appropriate sentences); providing accurate and current information, free professional training and acting as a ‘bridge’ between the angling community and Police; raising awareness of the better coordinated approach to fisheries enforcement; and educating and integrating migrant anglers.
“This is based upon sound policing experience and theory. It works. Confidence, and with it intelligence, has been increased, awareness has been raised and with it the fear of detection.
“I also think that more anglers are now aware, owing to better PR, of the benefits brought by rod licence income, and how important that is to angling,” Dilip concluded.
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