A Wigan angler has been hit with a court fine for fishing without a licence.
Chris Mitchell was one of five men in the dock appearing before North Staffordshire magistrates after prosecutions by the Environment Agency.
The 33-year-old, of Crossley Avenue, Pemberton, was caught fishing at Rudyard Lake, Leek, on February 19. After pleading guilty he was fined £620 and ordered to pay costs of £127 and a victim surcharge of £62.
Andrew Eardley of the Environment Agency said: “Most anglers enjoying the sport fish legally, but there continues to be small number of anglers who fail to buy a fishing licence. These few are cheating their fellow anglers and the future of the sport.
“An annual licence costs from just £30. It seems ridiculous that anglers risk significant fines and costs, a criminal conviction and the loss of their fishing equipment for such a small fee.”
Money from fishing licence sales is invested in England’s fisheries and is used to fund a wide range of projects to improve facilities for anglers including protecting stocks from illegal fishing, pollution and disease; restoring fish stocks through re-stocking; eradicating invasive species and fish habitat improvements.
Licence money is also used to fund the Angling Trust to provide information about fishing and to encourage participation in the sport. You need a valid Environment Agency fishing licence to fish for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eel in England. Buying a rod licence is easy: visit gov.uk and search buy a fishing licence. A licence lasts 365 days from day of purchase.