Environment Agency angler numbers just don't add up

Once again we have laughable figures that have no sound evidence being touted by the EA to produce numbers of anglers. You simply cannot argue with figures that are 100 per cent accurate, and if the EA brass insists that the latest numbers squeezed out by its latest research are correct, then they should all resign and let someone who can do their jobs properly take over.

By interviewing 2,304 people and extrapolating figures it has come to a number of people aged 12 and over who have fished in freshwater during the past two years of 6.1 million. Using the same amount of accuracy, let’s say that is 3m per year.

During those years it sold less than 3m licences, way under 1.5m per year – many less than that when one considers that many anglers buy two licences to fish with more than two rods. It also checks rod licences and proudly publishes its successes when capturing evaders. That evasion rate is under 10 per cent.

Here are my sums. Licences sold (rounded up to make the EA figures look less
stupid) in two years: 3,000,000. Number of anglers likely to be fishing without a licence 300,000. Total 3,300,300. The EA’s ‘research’ says that number is (rounded down) 6m. You don’t even need GCSE maths to see that either those figures are hogwash, or the EA’s bailiffs are useless!

I know a couple of enforcement officers and they are brilliant. They work hard at a difficult job – I’ve had my licence checked every season for as long as I can remember on waters varying from pretty upmarket trout waters to tiny suburban streams. I know that there will be several letters following that statement from anglers whose swims were disturbed by the wash from Noah’s Ark who have never been checked since.

Maybe that is the case, but they must be in the huge minority – or there’s a tracking device in my fishing boots.

Now to the crunch. The EA funded this research – I assume it was the EA Fisheries Department. In other words it spent our money to let us know it is not terribly good at what it is supposed to do as a main role – protect our waters by making sure everyone is fishing legally.

After all, if it missed half the people out there on the bank, how many set lines, gillnets, bream-barbies and multi-rod fish thieves has it missed? Its own figures suggest a lot.

Let’s be sensible. No-one knows how many sea anglers there are because they cannot be counted. Market research tells you that more people living near the sea fish in it and that number reduces for every mile inland. Maybe in England and Wales there have been 1.9m people sea fishing. Would that include the crowds on virtually every harbour wall and pier dropping crablines down?

Of course it does, but is that fishing? If it is, why should the EA care?

None of them fishing exclusively in the sea contribute to angling or its upkeep in any way.

You can keep your market research, I’ll stick to the facts. Perhaps those folk at the EA who paid for this rubbish might consider putting that money towards a bit of extra time on the bank for their own staff?