If you read my previous blog piece about the changes being made to the Rod Licence then you know that I think that pretty much everything that has changed is an improvement for anglers. That’s great, but the next big question that generally get’s asked (and there were quite a few comments about it on Facebook following my blog) is what do the Environment Agency spend the money on ? Well that’s a very good question and one that is very important to all anglers and particularly the Angling Trust. As the National Governing Body for fishing in England it is essential that we do everything we can to ensure that the money raised from Rod Licence money is put to good use and is used for the benefit of angling.
So how much money is actually raised ?
The amount raised by Rod Licence income fluctuates year on year but currently anglers spend just over £20 Million quid on rod licences which then goes directly the Environment Agency to carry out a set of high level key objectives which are set by the Government via DEFRA:
- to ensure the conservation and maintain the diversity of freshwater fish, salmon, sea trout and eels and to conserve their aquatic environment
- to enhance the contribution salmon and freshwater fisheries make to the economy, particularly in remote rural areas and in areas with low levels of income
- to enhance the social value of fishing as a widely available and healthy form of recreation.
Well those sound reasonable enough, even if they are a very governmental way of saying “maintain and improve freshwater fish stocks, promote angling and ensure angling is accessible and try to improve the rural economy while you are doing it.
So how do the EA Fisheries Teams go about doing that ?
Well for the last two years EA Fisheries have produced an improved annual report that is meant to do a pretty good job of telling us exactly that. There is a national overview (which the majority of the information on this blog is gleaned from) and also regional reports that give more detail about how the money is spent in each region. You can access them all VIA THIS LINK but I will do my best to summarise what the national overview says as it’s a 99 page document and I know not all of you will want to trawl through the whole thing. The EA break down they way they spend the money into six key chunks:
Operational Services : 20% of income or about £4 million. This is basically stuff that is done nationally such as rod licence administration, prosecutions, National Fisheries Laboratory, The EA Fish Farm at Calverton, fish pass design team, National Customer Contact centre (where you ring if you call 0800807060 to report a fisheries crime or a pollution incident) etc etc.
Supporting Government and direction for delivery: 9% of income or about £2 million. This rather opaquely named segment pays for all sorts of things. It includes the money that goes to pay for the National head Office team who set strategy and advise government. It also provides cash to partner organisations to carry out work on the EA’s behalf. It is also where the pot of money that goes towards the Fisheries Improvement Programme comes from and also pays for marketing and development work for the new rod licence system.
Enabling of Delivery: 25% of income or about £5 Million. This is basically that goes to pay for offices, IT and communications equipment, vehicles etc
Support Services: 5% of income or about £1 million. Finance teams and human resources
Projects: 14% of income or about £3 million
Area spend: 27% of income or about £5.5 million: Activities undertaken by Area teams around the country which include Fisheries enforcement work, monitoring fish stocks, permitting, giving fisheries advice, habitat and fish pass work and responding to incidents.
Ok so that is the big picture. But what about some of the key facts that concern anglers ? Here are a few of the main questions I hear being asked by anglers that I think I have found the answer to in the EA Annual report:
Q – I haven’t had my licence checked for years, how many checks are actually carried out each year ?
A – Just over 62,000 licence checks were carried out last year. That’s about 170 anglers checked every day of the year.
Q – Ok, but how many people actually get prosecuted ?
A – Just over 2000 successful prosecution last year ( about 3% of the people checked)
Q – What we need is more fish. I hear about the EA having a fish farm but how many fish are actually stocked ?
A – Over 450,000 coarse fish were stocked in English waters last year.
One of the key jobs of the Agency Fisheries Teams that I’m sure all anglers would be in favour of is the incident attendance work that is carried out. This is where people report fish in distress, sometimes due to disease, sometimes due to water conditions (low oxygen levels or pollution) sometimes because large numbers have become stranded by flood or drought. Let year EA officers attended 659 incidents around the country and around 80,000 fish were rescued.
I reckon that’s enough info for one day. Next time I will look at the Rod Licence money that is given to the Angling Trust and how that is spent.
There really is a lot of interesting information in the EA annual report though and it to be fair it’s not all graphs and figures, there are a lot of interesting case studies and examples of where the money has been spent and how it has benefitted angling. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether anglers get value for money or not, but before you moan on Facebook or in the pub..at least have a read through the report so that you have some facts to help you make your mind up.
Here is the link again EA ANNUAL FISHERIES REPORT