Wednesday, 23 February 2011

EA set to ditch rod licence checks?

ILLEGAL: Would more bailiffs on the bank help stop this..?

The Environment Agency is looking to cut back on rod licence checks, the PAC can reveal.

It comes as figures obtained under Freedom of Information laws show a sharp fall in both the number of EA bailiffs and the bankside checks they carry out.

Sources say the agency is looking to "outsource" some of the work carried out by bailiffs. It wants fisheries to check whether anglers have an EA licence before selling them day tickets, and angling clubs and tackle shops to do the same when we buy season permits.

The revelation follows an alarming increase in incidents where pike were illegally-targeted for removal from Britain's fisheries.

They include pike found dead on a stringer on a land drain near Boston, Lincs. A man was arrested after an armed response unit and police helicopter were scrambled to fish being fired at with a shotgun in the Twenty Foot River near March, Cambs.

PAC members also encountered illegal methods being employed to remove pike from waters as far afield as Devon and Humberside.

Reports which went live on the EA's website today show the agency spent £2m carrying out licence checks in 2009/10.

But the PAC has been told officials believe the checks are no longer cost effective in an age of rocketing fuel prices.

The agency is also waiting to see how government spending cuts will impact on fisheries budgets - as figures appear to show rod licence sales are on the increase, despite the recession.

Figures supplied in response to an FOI request show that 80,877 checks were carried out between April 1 and December 31 last year. More than 151,000 checks were carried out during the same period in 2005.

Prosecutions for rod licence offenses have fallen from 3,261 for April - December 2005, to 2,127 over the same period last year.

Rod licence sales have steadily increased. There were 1, 063,012 sales between April and December 2000, 1,236,194 over the same period in 2005, and 1,404,677 last year.

Figures supplied to the PAC also show that numbers of bailiffs and fishery officers have fallen over the last 10 years.

In 2000, the EA employed 50 full-time fishery officers and 70 part-time bailiffs. By 2005, there were 25 full-time fishery officers and 41 part-time bailiffs.

Last year, the agency says it employed 30 full-time enforcement officers and two part-time enforcement officers.

+++How they spent your money last year - click here to see where the EA spent the £24m it received from rod licence sales.

No comments:

Post a Comment