The Angling Trades Association, the UK’s industry body, has welcomed the news that the Environment Agency invested more than £48 million in projects to enhance fisheries and make improvements for anglers, angling facilities and the environment during 2019-20.
The organisation’s Annual Fisheries Report, which has just been released, shows that over £20 million was raised from rod licence sales in England and Wales, with almost a million (940,974) fishing licences sold between April 2019 and 31 March 2020.
This was supplemented by partner contributions and additional government funding, allowing the EA to spend over £48 million to support the management of fisheries.
ATA chair Andrew Race said: “We are delighted to hear about this level of expenditure on our sport and we can only hope that the Government continues to see the benefits to both the rural and angling economy of investing more than just rod licence funds into fishing and fisheries in the coming months and years.
“The ATA has worked tirelessly with other stakeholders over the last year to ensure angling retains a seat at the table while also safeguarding the sport – with all its health and wellbeing benefits – during the Covid-19 lockdowns. We will continue to do this, for our members, anglers and the wider community.”
Environment Agency fisheries staff also used rod licence income to work with the Angling Trust and the police to educate anglers, enforce fisheries law and protect the sport for those who want to fish safely and legally.
This resulted in 1,611 successful prosecutions and over £285,900 in penalties against people committing angling offences.
Licence sales have also allowed EA fisheries officers to save thousands of fish and helped protect hundreds of fisheries.
Kevin Austin, deputy director for fisheries at the Environment Agency, said: “Income from fishing licence sales is used to fund vital work to improve and protect our fisheries and much-loved fish species. Our Annual Fisheries Report shows how income generated is invested directly back into our angling community, improving fish stocks, boosting opportunities for anglers as well as working with partners to make it easier for anyone to take up fishing.
“When you buy a licence, you are supporting important work by the EA, including restocking, fisheries enforcement, habitat improvement and fish rescues when needed.”