New licence for carpers and free fishing for kids in rod licence shake-up

The most radical shake-up of the rod licence system for years is set to bring better value fishing for the nation’s anglers.
Fisheries Minister George Eustice has confirmed the far-reaching reform to the current licence which he says will also encourage new people to take up the sport.
Carp and specimen anglers who currently have had to buy two rod licences to use three rods, will benefit from the proposed Environment Agency changes that will see the creation of a three-rod option.
And in the biggest ever push to encourage children to take up the sport, a free rod licence for those under 16 years of age, who currently have to pay £5 is also among the plans.
The EA also wants to bring in a full year ‘rolling licence’, rather than a fixed single season.
April-to-April licences are currently seen by many as unfair to new anglers who buy one halfway through the season and get charged the full 12 months for just part of the year.
“Having listened to the Angling Trust and anglers’ views in our rod licence survey last year, we have a number of proposals that we will be advertising this spring,” said Sarah Chare, head of fisheries for the Environment Agency. 
“These include a 365-day licence, a three-rod permit and a free junior licence, which we think could play a vital part in getting more young people fishing and securing the future of the sport. 
If approved, the changes will come into effect in March 2017.”
The announcement has been welcomed by all branches of the sport and came following the answer to a recent parliamentary question put to Mr Eustice.
“This is the biggest shake-up of the rod licence for a while and these improvements are long overdue,” said Martin Salter, campaigns chief for the Angling Trust.
“Many specimen anglers I know won’t buy two separate licences at the moment, but they would be happy to pay the 50 per cent extra to use a third rod occasionally rather than be charged for a fourth rod that they never use.
“The rolling 365-day rod licence brings angling into line with the rest of the 21st Century,” he added.
“It can’t be right to charge someone who takes up angling in September the price of a full year’s licence.
“Best of all, I am really pleased that the EA is prepared to abolish the £5 junior licence.
“There may be a small cost implication for the rest of us, but I certainly wouldn’t mind paying a bit more for my own licence if it meant that more juniors under 16 could fish for free.
“Anything that attracts youngsters into our sport has to be good for the future of angling.”
Korda boss and top carp angler Danny Fairbrass believes that giving carpers and other specimen anglers a fairer deal when paying for the option of fishing with three rods will put an end to an issue that’s been a particular bugbear for many.
“It’s great news that the EA is addressing the three-rod problem, along with the current issue with people who have to pay for a full year even if they buy their licence in, say, September,” he said.
“People are so conscious of getting value for their money these days.
“But I also think that it’s a brilliant thing that it is doing for the kids because this sport needs to do everything that it can to encourage them to take up fishing.
“A free licence is a massive step in the right direction,” he added.
It’s not just specimen anglers who have been delighted by the news either.
Many other respected ambassadors of our sport within matchfishing are also 100 per cent behind the proposed changes.
“Fishing can be expensive, so if we can say that all under-16s can get involved for free then that’s a really positive move,” said Angling Trust International Events Director Dick Clegg.
“This will put those who are involved in getting fishing into schools and other areas in a great position.
“Fishing isn’t the only sport that struggles to recruit youngsters, but it’s small changes like these that can end up making a big difference.”
Angling Times editor-in-chief Steve Fitzpatrick also added his support: “It’s great news for the sport,” he said.