Although no-one likes to pay more for things, most anglers should be happy with the news that although the price of some rod licences is increasing the Environment Agency intends to spend more this year on fisheries work for the benefit of all anglers than ever before.
About £34 million will be spent on a wide variety of projects, including work to improve habitats for fish on both rivers and stillwaters, improved access to fisheries with the provision of car parking, pathways and angling platforms, and support for angling participation schemes to promote the development and participation in fishing, especially for disabled anglers.
Money is also spent on monitoring, habitat improvements, rescuing fish, regulating and enforcing fisheries legislation, promoting fisheries and fishing, cracking down on illegal fishing and fish movements, pollution prevention, control and clean ups, and fish disease research. There will also be work to improve salmon and eel stocks.
Many of the projects, particularly coarse and trout projects, involve working with other organisations which doubles or trebles the total investment in fisheries improvements. In addition, regions carry out localised improvements within their revenue budgets and work with colleagues in flood risk management and water resources to incorporate fisheries improvements as part of their schemes.
"With current full licences set to expire on March 31, it is very important at this time of year for all anglers to ensure they have a valid licence before heading out to fish," explained Environment Agency Head of Fisheries Dafydd Evans.
"Rod licence fees are essential in improving and maintaining our fisheries. This year we expect to invest nearly £34 million in fishing across England and Wales, with £23.4 million of this coming directly from anglers and another £9.4 million coming from DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government."
In 2006/2007 the Environment Agency:
Carried out 214 fisheries habitat improvement projects
Coached more than 5,000 youngsters in angling through the participation programme Get Hooked on Fishing
Sponsored National Fishing Week and organised 400 introduction events resulting in 30,000 taster sessions
Made nearly 3,000 visits to fisheries and angling clubs to offer advice, and attended nearly 1,000 angling clubs and consultation forums
Checked more than 160,000 anglers for their rod licences.
Monitored fish stocks at 2,500 sites across England and Wales.
Gave more than 9,000 consents to introduce fish.
Reared and stocked more than 400,000 coarse fish from our fish farms at Leyland and Calverton.
Monitored nearly 3,000 fish removals to prevent risks of disease to fisheries.
Distributed more than 600,000 free local angling guides to licence holders through local angling shops.
Helped 3,000 Scouts earn their angling badge.
Helped to set up 25 social inclusion schemes that use coarse angling.
Funded 75 per cent of the coarse angling coaches in the country.
Anyone 12 years old or over who wants to fish for salmon, trout, freshwater fish and eels in England and Wales and the Border Esk in Scotland requires a licence from the Environment Agency. Failure to have a licence is an offence. Those caught fishing illegally face tough penalties, including fines of up to £2,500 and a ban from fishing.
In 2007 more than 4,300 anglers appeared in front of courts across England and Wales for fishing without a valid rod licence. They paid nearly £610,000 in fines and costs. In addition, 35 anglers received cautions from the courts, a man from Hastings was banned from fishing for one year and a man from Staines was banned for two and a half years.
Rod licences expire on March 31, 2008. Buying a new licence couldn't be easier – around 15,000 Post Offices and other outlets sell them; a direct debit can be set up, and they can be purchased over the telephone on 0870 1662662 or on-line at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/rodlicence any time, day or night.
The prices for 2008/2009 Non-migratory trout, char, freshwater fish (coarse fish) and eel licences are: