Licence cheats cost us £1.55m

Rod licence dodgers cost our fisheries an estimated £1.55m in investment last season alone.

That’s the staggering sum of money the Environment Agency states the sport was deprived of by anglers fishing without legal documentation, with a similar sum expected in 2013-2014.

The huge amount would potentially fund the breeding of 1.9m fish from Calverton Fish Farm, regenerate 100 venues with new platforms, fish stockings and improvements to access, or even cover the whole of the EA’s enforcement and prosecution costs on its own for a year.

Early season blitzes by EA officers between April and June this year caught 1,907 people fishing without a rod licence from a total of 28,467 checks, giving a national evasion rate of 6.7 per cent. It means that as many as 86,000 adults could be fishing in England without any kind of licence altogether. 

Garry Jones, Fisheries Adviser for the EA, told Angling Times that rod licence evasion represents a ‘huge loss to fisheries.’

“Every penny of rod licence money is reinvested in angling. This includes a whole range of projects to improve facilities for anglers, fish stockings, invasive species eradication, and schemes which help introduce people to the sport,” he said. “Despite finding a small minority of licence dodgers between April and June 2013, our intelligence led and targeted patrols show that the vast majority of anglers do carry a valid Environment Agency rod licence. Please encourage others to buy one from the Post Office online, by visiting any Post Office branch or by calling us on 0844 800 5386,” he added.

According to the EA, when concessionary and day versions are taken into account, the average sale of a licence generates £18 for fisheries. This figure, multiplied by those 86,000-plus anglers who are potentially on the banks illegally, would provide a massive £1.55m in revenue. The EA has pointed out that this figure is at the higher end of the scale as it expects the true evasion rate to be slightly less, given that most of its checks are done on known evasion ‘hotspots’.