UK anglers face first fishing licence fee increase in six years
A proposal to increase the cost of fishing licences in the UK from April 1st next year has received the support of several of sport’s governing bodies.
The Environment Agency (EA), the organisation responsible for issuing licences, is set to introduce incremental increases over three years.
The price of an annual two-rod coarse and non-migratory trout licence will go from £30 to £33 from April 1st, 2023. This will increase to £35.80 from the next year, with a final increase to £36.60 the following year.
The Agency says the higher charges are vital to improve England’s fisheries and that the additional income will be invested directly into enhancing the fishing experience for anglers.
This includes ensuring healthy fish stocks, deterring illegal fishing, attracting match funding to maximise licence income, growing participation and modernising systems such as continuous payment and digital licencing.
“This small increase will be the first for six years and ensures we can continue to undertake our statutory duties to maintain, develop and improve freshwater and migratory fisheries to the level our fisheries community and customers expect,” said Heidi Stone, the Agency’s Environment and Business Partnerships Manager.
Mike Heylin OBE, Vice Chair of the Angling Trades Association (ATA), said, “It used to be that the EA fisheries service was funded in part by anglers’ rod licence duties and in part by £10 million a year grant in aid from His Majesty’s Government.
“The GiA has been progressively reduced over many years to £1.4 million in 2022/23 and anglers have been paying pretty much the full bill for the fisheries service, which unsurprisingly is no longer as complete as once it was.
“However, if we want to go fishing we need healthy rivers and stillwaters with plentiful fish stocks, so the EA fisheries service is vital to the interests of anglers. We haven’t had any increase in price for six years and given the present economic situation, we now need one simply to maintain the service as it is.
“These increases are not excessive and, being phased in, should be affordable to anglers generally. They will insure the EA Fisheries Service against any further cuts imposed by the Government.
“There is an opportunity here for tackle dealers to set up dedicated terminals in-store to handle rod licence sales and promote them to those who are not well-versed in electronic media. So these changes to the sales environment present some business opportunities which I am sure many in the trade will appreciate and for which the ATA has been lobbying.”
Jamie Cook, CEO of the Angling Trust, agreed that it was important that licence income is protected. “Nobody likes to see price rises […] but these modest increases are necessary to ensure that angling continues to receive professional support from the EA.”