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A day in the life of an EA fisheries enforcement officer

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Fisheries and biodiversity

I am part of a team of Fishery Enforcement Officers that patrols the rivers, still waters and canals in the West Midlands ensuring anglers have a fishing licence and are complying with fishing regulations.

I love what I do because each day is different and since I started working as an Enforcement Officer 26 years ago I have had to deal with all sorts of offences including poaching, illegal fishing instruments; i.e. set lines, gill nets, traps and gaffes. I have also had to deal with illegal stocking of fish in still waters and the introduction of non-native species.

One of my main duties is to carry out fisheries enforcement work, which means, amongst other things, I check all anglers are fishing legally and have the correct licence for fishing. The money we raise from selling fishing licences is all used to improve and develop fisheries across the country . These funds are incredibly important for the work we do to improve fishing for anglers across the West Midlands. The money raised is reinvested to improve facilities for anglers, help manage predation and protect stocks from illegal fishing. We also carry out fish restocking, manage the impact of invasive species, restore and improve habitats and work with partners to encourage people to take up fishing for the first time.

Enforcement work is really important to ensure fish populations are protected. Our work includes: auditing and inspecting fish movements’ patrolling rivers to check no one is fishing in the closed season; educating the public and fishery owners and looking for unlicensed and prohibited nets and lines.

Throughout this year, we’ve been cracking down on people who do not buy a fishing licence and we’ve successfully prosecuted many anglers who have been operating without a licence, which has attracted some hefty fines (fines can be up to £2,500 – see our latest prosecutions at Last year we checked over 9,500 licences in our Area and prosecuted more than 500 of those anglers who were fishing in the West Midlands area alone.

My role requires me to cover large areas and many fisheries.  My work is often intelligence led resulting in targeting specific areas where there are reports of people illegally fishing increasing the likelihood of finding people fishing illegally. As a team we also carry out boat patrols, as done recently along the rivers Severn and Avon.

Recently, I have been working in partnership with local police units in the West Midlands to target fish theft by crime groups in areas known to be ‘hotspots’ for fisheries offences. Our joint patrols have proved to be incredibly effective at tackling a wide range of issues that reduce safe and accessible fishing opportunities for local communities.

Patrols such as these also give us the chance to jointly gain valuable intelligence that can be used in the prevention and detection of more serious crimes. The majority of patrols go off without serious incident and in the Enforcement Team we are always looking for a compliant and safe outcome.

Anyone who sees or suspects illegal fishing activity can report it to our 24 hour incident hotline on 0800 807060.

If you’re thinking of going fishing, don’t forget to buy a fishing licence. It’s quick and easy and costs just £30 for a whole year just visit

Patrolling West Midlands rivers

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  1. Comment by garath posted on

    Manage invasive species ????????? you should be on the comedians,,,,,

    the EA have been sat around a table since 1978/80 talking about how to solve the problem ,,and in 2018 they are sat around the same table talking the same BS.

    and now we have Chinese mitten crabs that cause million pounds worth of damage each year , guess where the EA are ? yep sat around same table talking about it .

    its so simple A is the problem B is the solution catch them

  2. Comment by Alan posted on

    I witnessed 2 men fishing on the Shropshire Union Can earlier this afternoon at around1:30 pm they around 1/2 mile north of Wheaton Aston. They bot caught fish and did not return either to the water. I have a photo of the 2 concerned.

    • Replies to Alan>

      Comment by eileenroffe posted on

      Hello - you can report this via an email to: - please include the date and time and attach the photographs - we can then forward it the report to our national incident team - alternatively you can call our national incident team 27/7/365on: 0800 80 70 60 - thank you in advance - Eileen

  3. Comment by Jim Bates posted on

    All scare mongery.
    Never needed a fishing license in my entire life. All I have ever needed to go fishing is permission from the land owner or an invitation once the owner of the riparian rights has observed my intentions are not to commit theft or cause any offense. You either have the right intact as a man or you will be made to suffer the interference of the implied consent and also to whatever nonsense the government's paranoia promotes where you do not know your right. Who would be making contraversy or complaint, losing property or denied their rights between two parties in prior agreement...answer: no one.

    • Replies to Jim Bates>

      Comment by eileenroffe posted on

      Hello - Anyone aged 13 or over who wants to fish for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eels in England, Wales or the Border Esk region of Scotland needs a rod licence to fish with a rod and line. A licence is not needed in the River Tweed and its tributaries as it is classed as a Scottish River.

      A licence is needed to fish on both public and private waters, and when fishing for these species in river estuaries, inshore fishers and up to six nautical miles at sea.

      Anglers must have the permission of the land owner and whoever owns the fishing rights, for the location they want to fish.


      • Replies to eileenroffe>

        Comment by Jim Bates posted on

        Hi Eileen,
        How does the EA enforce the societal rule upon two parties who are both happy to continue a private agreement and where neither party wishes to complain about the other to the EA?

        It is my understanding that where the government states and makes the claim that fishing without a rod license is a crime would imply that someone has suffered harm or loss and a complaint would have to of been made in the first instance. The fisherman/woman and the riparian rights owner is in agreement so there would be no such complaint made by either party nor any witnesses to crime. There would be no victim to suggest a crime has been committed either.

        • Replies to Jim Bates>

          Comment by eileenroffe posted on

          The national byelaws state that fishing in freshwater requires a rod licence:

          • Replies to eileenroffe>

            Comment by Jim Bates posted on

            Hello again.
            Can you answer:

            "How does the EA enforce the societal rule upon two parties who are both happy to continue a private agreement and where neither party wishes to complain about the other to the EA?"

            It is a bit like insurance, unless you make a claim against what you have paid it is a complete waste of money.
            Fish stocks are managed by ecological systems which the EA have no power to manage, Cormorants and other fish eating birds (and mammals) can empty large stretches of river of all types of fish but buying a license does not prevent that from happening.

          • Replies to Jim Bates>

            Comment by eileenroffe posted on

            Good Morning, the requirement for a rod licence is embedded in UK legislation: as with the byelaws: and does not fall under 'a gentlemans agreement. Rod licences are required when using a rod and line to fish for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eel in England and Wales. To buy a rod licence please visit: The EA assist management of fish stocks in watercourses and fisheries to assist the ecological system where stocks are low and this is achieved by the EA's fish farm. Eileen

  4. Comment by Jim Bates posted on

    You only spoke of "legislation" but you left the part out that it is lawful to fish.
    Societal rules in this instance cannot be enforced because it would clearly rely on all parties conformity to legislation and implied consent to be asking for permission to do something that is not a crime (as stated).
    Lawful speaks of freedom to do something, legal speaks of being bound by mans rules added upon what is already lawful.
    See how all you can do is parrot the same government internet links to where man has collectively said you must follow his rules, while ommitting the fact that fishing is not a crime, nor unlawful.

  5. Comment by Stanley Wilson posted on

    Can an officer use his handcuffs on the Border Esk in Scotland

  6. Comment by GARATH posted on


  7. Comment by andy posted on

    can i still fish the warks avon in the river close season for eels??? a yes or no would save a lot of confusion many thanks

  8. Comment by andy posted on

    thanks for reply'' checked that already' can we fish for eels on the warks avon in worcestershire?/ many thanks

  9. Comment by Ronny posted on

    How do I know an EA Officer is genuine? Does said officer need to produce ID on request? If so, what does said ID consist of? Is it similar to a photo card for a driving licence for instance? I would be unwilling to produce anything with my name and/ or address on it unless I am sure that the person requesting it is actually who they say they are. I would like to add that a fluorescent jacket with EA on it does not constitute proof of identity.

    • Replies to Ronny>

      Comment by Nick posted on

      An EA Fisheries Enforcement Officer will produce there Warrant much like a police officer, officers have the powers of a constable to both check ID and rod licences and where necessary arrest under PACE and Salmon and fresh water fisheries act 1975
      It is also an offence to obstruct an officer in carrying out there statutory duty. For example refusing to provide your licence or identification upon request. .

  10. Comment by Alex posted on

    Does the Environment Agency hold historical and recent records/data from fish surveys conducted on the River Severn in Shropshire, and if so how/where can I view the records please?


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