In January 2023, the facility to buy a fishing licence in your local post office came to an end. The process of natural evolution that decrees all things must eventually end up on the internet, finally caught up with the humble fishing licence and dragged it kicking and screaming into the ‘cloud’.
It is easy to view this latest development in a negative light when, as an industry, we are looking to reduce the barriers to angling engagement as far as we can. It is easy to visualise legions of older anglers struggling to cope with the rigours of modern technology in a bid to access their favourite pastime, but the figures show numbers of licences purchased this way is now negligible.
The internet has been around for a good while now and anglers are no different to anyone else when it comes to adapting, indeed, looking at recent responses to angling media headlines on social media, anglers, irrespective of age, are more than savvy enough to purchase online or have a mate who is.
Over the last few years, ATA has been involved in discussions with the Environment Agency about proposed changes to licencing. Regular liaison on this and other factors that potentially impact on angling has enabled ATA to inform and affect decisions made by EA to better suit long term growth of the industry.
The cessation of licence sales through the Post Office is one of many recent evolutions that the angling licence has undergone. Changes such types of licence and year-round validity from purchase date have allowed more flexibility and improved the potential of licences to cater for modern angling trends. The Post Office contract has processed an ever-decreasing number of licence sales over recent years, a process that simply reflects changes in peoples buying habits and ATA was well aware of its approach.
The opportunity to invest that GPO contract money directly into angling is a positive and, some would argue, a scenario that presents a chance for retailers to increase their footfall by offering assistance to those anglers who need it. Retailers are a vital focal point for the industry and there are many who will assist their customers with a licence purchase as they would with advice on tackle, fisheries and day tickets and licence awareness should be encouraged especially in support of those new or returning to angling.
ATA’s is focused solely on long term investment and protection of angling and providing that industry awareness to EA and others to act positively upon. Because of these working relationships, ATA is in a position to see change coming and act in preparation for it, and we should be promoting footfall in retailers at every opportunity.