by Countryside Alliance

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The Countryside Alliance has joined with partner angling organisations to raise concerns with Fisheries Minister George Eustice MP. In a letter signed by seven angling organisations, we question whether the Environment Agency has sufficient funds to continue maintaining, improving and developing England's fisheries.

The Environment Agency has a statutory duty to protect and promote England's fisheries, and is responsible for investigating and enforcing fishery regulations and taking action to prevent damage resulting from criminal activity, disease, pollution and invasive species. The angling community has however increasingly lost confidence in the Environment Agency's ability to fulfil such a role as a recent Freedom of Information request by the Angling Trust revealed a 76% cut in Government funding for this work over the past ten years.

The letter, dated 14th February 2019, highlighted this breakdown in confidence and drew attention to the crucial issue of rod licences. The sales of rod licences are a crucial source of funding for the Environment Agency's fishery management work, yet the promotion of rod licences is curtailed by complex bureaucratic procedures and hampered by the scam websites seeking to sell the licences with an unnecessary "administration fee". The sale of rod licences has been in decline, and our letter calls on the Government to take action against any search engine promoting these scam websites.

Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner, said: "The Environment Agency plays a key role in the maintenance and protection of our fisheries, and it is vital that work is appropriately funded. We are in danger of being trapped in a vicious cycle in which less money for Environment Agency operations, particularly the promotion of rod licences, means fewer people are buying rod licences and the Environment Agency receives even less money. Anglers who are buying licences are being scammed into paying unnecessary fees and are losing faith in the Environment Agency's ability to execute its core functions. We are asking the Minister to meet us and discuss these issues in the detail they deserve."

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