I have lost count of the number of times I have written in this column that fining people who fish without a licence isn’t worth a carrot for angling.
In fact I’m prepared to wager that for every case the Environment Agency takes to court we are net losers, as the average costs awarded to the prosecution can’t cover the costs of that prosecution. I’ve seen costs awards varying from £35 to close on £200, but the fees of a solicitor, even an ‘in-house’ one’s wages, and witnesses must be more than that.
One idea would be for the EA to ask for the first part of costs to be the price of a current year’s licence plus next year’s charge, then at least they won’t be offending again for at least two years.
I honestly can’t see the issue with fisheries, clubs and match organisers to check a rod licence is held before selling permission to fish. Some waters and clubs do it with no issues whatsoever.
If the people who regularly try to fish without a licence were stopped at source the problem would be almost eradicated, with just ‘free’ waters omitted. And that’s where enforcement officers could spend their time, catching fish thieves and licence cheats.