Fisheries across the East of England will now be protected by a new team of full-time Environment Agency Fisheries Enforcement Officers, replacing the old system of seasonal part-time bailiffs.
As well as visiting fisheries and carrying out rod licence checks, officers will work closely with police and the angling community to gather intelligence and target illegal fishing activities making better use of public money.
This means they could turn up anywhere, at any time, to disrupt illegal activities and catch law breakers in the act.
Spot checks will still continue and anglers should make sure they have the proper licence before they head out fishing, or they could have their equipment seized, be prosecuted and face a court fine of up to £2,500.
Over the coming months, angling clubs, fisheries owners and tackle shops will get to know their local Fisheries Enforcement Officer well.
Lesley Robertson, Environmental Crime Team Leader said the new posts would ensure a better service for anglers. “We will be able to respond to reports of potential illegal fishing activities seven days a week. I would encourage anybody who sees or knows of any suspicious activities, such as fish being stolen or moved without the necessary consent, to phone our free incident hotline 0800 80 70 60”
Across England and Wales the Agency check around 100,000 rod licences a year.
“People who don’t pay are cheating fellow anglers. Licence sales generate more than £25 million in revenue each year, and the Environment Agency ploughs this directly back into the sport. The rod licence fee therefore helps to pay for habitat improvement works, fisheries research, monitoring and advice for the fishing community,” said Lesley.
Buying a new rod licence couldn't be easier - around 15,000 Post Offices and other outlets sell them. Alternatively, payment can be made via direct debit, over the telephone on 0844 800 5386 or online any time at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/rodlicence.