On Wednesday 8 August 2018, Matthew Holt, aged 26, of Hollington Crescent in Birmingham, was found guilty in his absence at Northampton Magistrates’ Court for using an unlicensed fishing rod and line at Mineral Lakes, Bedworth on 14 October 2017.
Holt was given a fine of £300 and ordered to pay trial costs of £800, plus a £30 victim surcharge, after appealing a previous fine of £220.
The case went to trial following an appeal by Holt after he was found guilty of fishing illegally on 14 October 2017. Holt claimed he had a fishing licence, but the court heard evidence from the Environment Agency that showed he was caught fishing with another angler. As the bailiff was taking details of the other angler, Holt hurriedly bought a licence online. The court agreed that Holt was found fishing before he had a licence and believed he would have continued to fish illegally if the bailiff had not arrived.
Andrew Eardley of the Environment Agency said:
An annual fishing licence costs just £30, yet a small number of anglers continue to flout the law and risk prosecution for fishing without a licence.
When buying a licence online it takes around 30 minutes to become active. It’s important anglers have a licence before fishing; the money from licences is invested into England’s fisheries and rivers; improving the sport of angling.
Environment Agency officers are out checking licences regularly throughout the year. A licence costs just £30 and lasts for 12 months from the day it is purchased.
Money from fishing licence sales is invested in England’s fisheries and is used to fund a wide range of projects to improve facilities for anglers including; protecting stocks from illegal fishing, pollution and disease, restoring fish stocks through re-stocking, eradicating invasive species and fish habitat improvements. Fishing licence money is also used to fund the Angling Trust to provide information about fishing, to encourage participation in the sport and to manage a voluntary bailiff scheme.
Children up to the age of 16 can fish for free, but do need to have a valid fishing licence. Anyone over 16 must pay for a licence to fish for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eel in England.
Anyone witnessing illegal fishing can report it directly to the Environment Agency hotline, 0800 80 70 60. Information on illegal fishing and environmental crime can also be reported anonymously to Crime stoppers on 0800 555 111.