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Income from fishing licences helps protect and improve England’s precious waterways

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

Tom Sherwood, Senior Advisor in AFNE (Agriculture, Fisheries and the Natural Environment), answers the question: 'Where does my fishing licence money go?'

One of the questions I am often asked by anglers is “where does my fishing licence money go?” There is no one answer, as every year we strive to make a real difference for our fisheries and anglers through an array of activities. But, every penny we receive in rod licence income is always reinvested to protect both the sport of angling and our wonderful waterways.

In fact, we spend far more than we receive, by being able to attract funding from other parts of the Environment Agency, government and our external partners. Last year, for every £1 of fishing licence money we invested in projects, we secured an additional £25.7  worth of additional investment to improve fisheries and develop fishing opportunities.

You can see this for yourself in newly-published Annual Fisheries Report for 2019 to 2020. In this document, we outline the extent of work undertaken thanks to this important source of funding.

During the financial year 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 we sold 940,974 fishing licenses. This equates to 835,244 individual anglers – a figure we are set to surpass for the financial year 2020/21 as more people have been seeking out ways to improve their wellbeing and reconnect with nature during the coronavirus pandemic.

The report gives details on all the work we do, including vital work with our brilliant network of approximately 2,000 partners. These include organisations involved in angling such as the Angling Trust and The Wild Trout Trust, as well as a large number of local angling clubs, fishery owners, local councils and charities. With the support of our partners, we are able to deliver far more, ensuring that every pound from the licence fee income is used to its maximum potential.

In 2019/2020, the revenue generated by sales of nearly one million fishing licences contributed to helping us stock over half a million coarse fish into our waterways and to improve 515 kilometers of river and 185 hectares of stillwater fisheries, to provide habitat for fish to thrive. Other works covered by the licence fee included the building of more than 58 fish passes, which allow fish to move up rivers more freely and 1,521 surveys to monitor fish stocks.

In total, through fishing licence income, partner contributions and additional government funding we have invested over £26,700,000 in fisheries projects.

We also worked with a range of volunteers including the Angling Trusts Voluntary Bailiff Service, who provide eyes and ears on the banks to ensure people are complying with the law. This is a vital piece of work that ensures anglers fish legally and can enjoy the sport, while preserving and protecting fish stocks. They also provide a huge number of volunteer angling coaches, who give people the chance to try our wonderful sport.

So remember, a rod licence is more than just a piece of paper, it’s helping to create a sustainable future for fisheries, putting anglers at the heart of protecting and improving the very things they care about.

To keep up to date with the work we do, please opt in to receiving communications from us when you buy a licence.

Annual fishing licences are available from only £30 and juniors can fish for free. To enjoy fishing and make sure you fish legally - go to

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  1. Comment by Paul Newton posted on

    Do you get a reminder when your license is due for renewal,please.

    • Replies to Paul Newton>

      Comment by eileenroffe posted on

      Reminders are sent out dependent on how you purchase however - you don't need a reminder to renew your rod licence - if you are unsure when your licence runs our please call our contact center on: 03708 506 506 - Eileen

  2. Comment by Michael Thompson posted on

    I live in Handforth, Cheshire. My local river Dean receives precious little attention form the EA in this area, the banks are eroding at an alarming rate due to lack of attention from those responsible and trees are falling, choking the river leading to a build up of plastic and other detritus. All to often the EA talks about the good work it is doing on rivers (mainly in the south) but the little rivers generally are left behind. Please address this problem.

    • Replies to Michael Thompson>

      Comment by eileenroffe posted on

      Hello, Please report this to our Incident team on 0800 80 70 60. They will ask more questions, log it and send to the area team. Eileen

  3. Comment by Julian Jones posted on

    This is disingenuous to say the least; the Environment Agency has overseen a period of appalling recent decline in UK rivers and fisheries.
    Your lack of regulation has been catastrophic.
    With new fecal pathogens entering watercourses through the typically 10 fold increase in CSO (storm overflow) operation nationally during past decade, I must ask you - is it actually safe to be near rivers presently ?
    The contaminants go well beyond sewage & faeces ... agricultural contaminants - glyphosate metabolites & avermectins particularly are going off the scale. (Our river silts are often as rich in nutrient as manure because they are largely manure; mobilised off the land because of anthelmintic burden).
    Quite apart from trying to justify your frankly spurious efforts to protect the interests of anglers (and wider public) - do you really think it responsible to allow anglers near rivers; or even eat the fish ?

  4. Comment by Fishery Watch posted on

    Too much of it goes to the Angling Trust that are only self appointed governing body. by the time they take out there salaries, very little of what they are given gets back into angling.

  5. Comment by Lyndon posted on

    I am concerned where funding from the licence is only targeted towards England (the wording used at the head of this article/blog written by Tim Sherwood (Fisheries and Bio Diversity), as we also pay a licence fee in Wales. Am I not right in saying that the Environment Agency licence covers both England and Wales.

    • Replies to Lyndon>

      Comment by eileenroffe posted on

      Good morning, the EA cover both England and Wales - if you have any comments to forward to the National Fisheries team please email: - your email will be logged by the email management unit and forwarded for comment to the fisheries team via the complaints team. this is the best channel to raise comments as this blog is not monitored thoughout the day to - thank you in advance - Eileen

    • Replies to Lyndon>

      Comment by eileenroffe posted on

      Good morning, thank you for your response to the article that was published on the EA Blog. The best way to forward your enquiry/comment to us is via our email management unit at: - they will log your email and forward to the national fisheries team for a response - you will receive a response email with a reference number - thank you in advance - Eileen

  6. Comment by Fishermen posted on

    Did I get this right ? £30-45 a rod license, 940,000 sales, at £30 a sale £28.2 million! £25.20 extra for every £1 in sales. £710,640,00! Investment from environmental agency £26.7 million. Environmental agency claims to invest every penny of rod licence sales back into angling and water ways. £1.5 million of sales doesn’t seem to of been invested and not a single penny has been invested from funding. Not to mention it’s £45 for three rods, so the figure could be a lot higher than £28.2 million in sales of rod licenses.

  7. Comment by JOHN HYDE posted on

    Ok why dont you dredge the rivers any more ? , i live in the black country and the canels are a disgrace they have been getting worse for the last 20 years !

  8. Comment by JOHN HYDE posted on

    Ok why dont you dredge the rivers any more ? , i live in the black country and the canels are a disgrace they have been getting worse for the last 20 years ! Thats why weve got floods . The canel by the black country museam has got litter and i saw a mattress in there last week . So tell me what your doing !


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