The just-released Environment Agency’s fisheries annual report reveals how nearly £22m in rod licence income – achieved through almost 935,000 fishing licence sales – has been spent during 2021 and 2022 to enhance and protect England’s fisheries.

Over the last year, the EA has worked with over 1,000 partners including The Angling trades Association and its National Fishing Month and Take A Friend Fishing initiatives, the Angling Trust, The Wild Trout Trust and the Institute of Fisheries Management to improve fish stocks and habitats, provide new facilities for anglers and make fisheries more accessible.

Environment Agency Fisheries Manager Heidi Stone, said: “Our annual report is our summary to you to show where we spent the money we receive. From improving fish habitats, to controlling threats from non-native species right through to making fishing more accessible, the EA has carried out some fantastic projects this year that will improve our fisheries and benefit anglers around the country.

“These are key examples of how we inject income from fishing licence fees directly back into fisheries – and I want to thank anglers for continuing to play their part and allowing us to invest in projects to help our environment flourish.”

In 2022, more than 50 projects were completed through the Angling Improvement Fund (AIF) – funded by EA rod licence income – with many of these funding biosecurity measures to protect fisheries from predators such as otters and cormorants.

Top Farm fishery in Worcester was suffering from serious predation caused by cormorants as well as grebes and a survey revealed it was incurring substantial silver fish losses. Through the AIF, the fishery was granted over £2,000 towards the cost of six floating islands that have provided fish protection and cover, enabling stocks to thrive once again.

Over the last year, 30 fish passes were built and 16 weirs and barriers removed to support valuable fish stocks. The River Derwent in Derbyshire, for example, has seen fish populations steadily improving thanks to the EA’s work in removing Snake Lane Weir, completed in October 2022 with support from The Wild Trout Trust as part of the EA’s Water Environment Investment Fund (WEIF).

Having barred access upstream for fish for centuries, this project has opened up a further 9km of habitat for all fish including Atlantic Salmon – helping to transform the river and its ecosystem.

The WEIF covers separate projects aimed at improvement of catchment and habitat improvement that can benefit fisheries, working with several hundred separate partnerships throughout the year.

Meanwhile, the EA enforcement teams continue to make sure anglers comply with regulations to protect fish stock.

In 2021 to 2022, fisheries enforcement officers checked just over 41,000 fishing licences and successfully prosecuted nearly 730 anglers for fishing without a licence. You must purchase a fishing licence to fish in England and Wales. Annual licences start from £30 and can be purchased online or by phone.

You can access the report HERE

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