The Environment Agency’s Annual Fisheries Report reveals that over one million rod licence sales in 2020/21 funded major improvements to the environment and fish habitats.
In all, 1,090,068 fishing licences were sold to anglers between April 1st 2020 and March 31st, 2021, generating £24,583,342 in income, which has been reinvested into incident response, enforcement action and habitat improvements to support fisheries.
This income was further boosted by government funding and partner contributions, allowing the EA to deliver a major investment of £33 million through the Water Environment Improvement Fund (WEIF) to enhance the environment which fish stocks rely on to survive.
The report outlines how licence income supported fish restocking across the country which helps fish populations to recover following environmental incidents.
Almost 500,000 coarse fish were stocked into rivers and still waters around the country, including over 130,000 barbel and almost 82,000 roach.
Licence sales also helped to fund 45 fish pass projects, opening up rivers to encourage the free movement of fish. Installing structures to bypass obstacles, such as weirs, allows fish to access new feeding areas and breeding ground to spawn successfully.
As inclusivity is a key pillar of the EA’s National Angling Strategy, the additional income from increased licence sales has been used to benefit the growing angling community and make the sport accessible for all. This includes the construction of facilities for less able anglers such as accessible toilets, safer platforms for wheelchair users and improved access to fisheries sites.
The EA worked in collaboration with partners, such as the Angling Trades Association, Angling Trust and the Canal and River Trust, to encourage more people to give angling a go.
The relaunch of the Take a Friend Fishing initiative (TAFF) encouraged over 3,000 licence holders to take a friend fishing. Licence income was also used to support the training of new coaches and facilitate 495 participation events which saw around 5,000 people try fishing for the first time.
Kevin Austin, deputy director for fisheries at the Environment Agency, said: “It’s fantastic to see that over a million people went fishing last year and are recognising the benefits of this sport. The Environment Agency uses licence income to maintain, improve and develop fisheries across the country.
“Whether it’s preventing illegal fishing and poaching, responding to incidents or safeguarding habitats – all licence income is invested directly back into our fisheries and angling services.
“When you buy a licence you help us continue this vital work and create new opportunities for anglers.”