- 0.1 What happens if you get caught without a fishing license UK?
- 0.2 Is sea fishing free in the UK?
- 0.3 Do you need a fishing license UK?
- 1 How much is the fine for no fishing license UK?
- 2 Can anyone fish in UK waters?
- 3 Can I magnet fish anywhere in the UK?
- 4 Is it legal to fish in rivers UK?
- 5 Do you need a fishing licence on private land UK?
What happens if you get caught without a fishing license UK?
Fishing ‘Rod’ Licences & the Law Do I need a Licence? Under Section 27 of the Salmon & Freshwater Fisheries Act, 1975, anyone aged 13 or older in English and Wales must have a valid rod licence to fish in freshwater. Fishing at sea generally does not require a rod licence.
Fishing with sea-fishing gear up rivers/tidal estuaries is more complicated. It depends where you are fishing from and if targeting sea fish. If fishing for trout or salmon, it always requires a licence. This article does not cover the laws on poaching and retaining fish caught, which is even more complicated and there are specific rules and regulations for different types of freshwater and saltwater fish.
Since 2018 licences are now free for anglers between ages 13 to 16 years of age, but they must have a valid licence. Regardless of whether you are fishing on freshwater fishing in rivers, reservoirs, lakes, ponds and canals. There are two types of licence, depending upon the types of fish that you intend to catch.
- There are limits/restrictions on what you can catch and whether you must return the fish for example.
- If I get caught without a licence? You always need to carry your rod fishing licence whenever you go fishing or you could end up being prosecuted, even if you are fishing on privately owned land.
- You must produce your licence if asked to do so by an Environment Agency Bailiff or by any other authorised person.
You will be on the hook for a criminal record and/or net yourself a fine of up to £2,500 for fishing without a valid rod fishing licence. That’s not a drop in the ocean.
Every year EA bailiffs check thousands of rod licences and are prosecuted.If I have a rod licence does that mean I can fish anywhere, anytime?NO, a rod licence is more akin to a fishing tax that anglers pay to allow them to use their equipment.A fishing permit would be required as the fishing rights are likely owned or controlled by a fishing club, or third party. Canals for example are mostly owned by the
Fishing without permission is a criminal offence under Section 2 of Schedule 1 Theft Act 1968 offence. “A person who unlawfully takes or destroys, or attempts to take or destroy, any fish in water which is private property or in which there is any private right of fishery shall on summary conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.” In addition under subsection 3 the court can order the forfeiture of the fishing gear which was being used.
- The meaning of ‘Taking or Destroying’ from the Theft Act was decided in the case of Wells v Hardy and does not mean necessarily carrying of the fish away from the water, but ‘to lay hands upon, to grasp, to seize or capture’.
- The offender is not required to to be stealing the fish, but the right to the fish.
An offence would be still be committed, if the offender had live fish in a keepnet, or if the offender was fishing, but blanked or yet to catch. So just because there aren’t any signs or anyone collecting fees from the bankside doesn’t mean its free to fish.
There are also closed seasons for coarse fishing which applies to all rivers, streams and drains in England but does not apply to most still-waters and canals. Always check the local fishing, If you need assistance for any then do not hesitate to contact our solicitors at Burton Copeland LLP. *This article is commentary only and does not constitute legal advice.
It should not be a substitute for obtaining your own legal advice. : Fishing ‘Rod’ Licences & the Law
Is sea fishing free in the UK?
Sign showing the months in which fishing is banned from Roker Beach, Sunderland. It is a common belief that sea anglers have the right to fish without restriction in the sea. Many point to the fact that this is a right which is enshrined in the Magna Carta.
To a certain extent, this is true as much of the coastline around the British Isles is indeed free for anyone to fish with a rod and line. But when the issue is looked at in a little more detail it can be seen that there are in fact plenty of (perfectly legitimate) restrictions on anglers’ activities such as where anglers can fish, what species they can legally take from the sea, and where they can dig bait.
It is naïve – and a way of getting into trouble – to simply believe that all saltwater fishing and related activities are entirely without any form of restriction. The Magna Carta was a charter issued in the year 1215 and agreed upon by King John. It was of immense historical significance as it was one of the first pieces of legislation which limited the power of the monarch and brought in many of the laws which we take for granted today.
For example, it ensured that people could only be punished through the law of the land, and it set the basis for the trial and jury system we still use today. One of the key reasons the Magna Carta was introduced was because the King of England had been able to monopolise a large number of common resources that many people believe should be open to everyone.
The Magna Carta enshrined the right of the common man to access these resources and fishing was included as one of them. For this reason, many people looking to protect the rights of sea anglers to fish wherever they want quote the Magna Carta and claim that the right to fish in saltwater, collect shellfish or dig bait from the foreshore is guaranteed by this text. This is a picture of one of the four remaining exemplifications (official copies) of the original Magna Carta document. It is currently held at the British Library in London. However, this does not mean that anglers in the twenty-first century can quote the Magna Carta to go fishing anywhere they like along the British coastline.
- The Magan Carta is an ancient piece of legislation which provided the basis for many laws today, but the rules it set down (which mostly related to feudal customs) have no direct application in law today.
- For example, the Magna Carta gave people the right to catch fish from the sea, but legislation on minimum size limits, protection of endangered species and marine conservation zones have all (completely legitimately) altered the original rights the Magna Carta provided to anglers.
Anyone being prosecuted for breaking these laws would not get very far trying to quote an 800-year-old text which has no contemporary legal standing in their defence. Like many piers around the UK, South Shields pier is locked overnight and in times of bad weather Pier fishing: Fishing from piers and breakwaters is one of the most popular forms of fishing in the UK, but all piers in the UK are private property and to stay on the right side of the law anglers must follow the rules regarding times of access to fish these marks. A sign at Brighton Marina stating the rules and cost of fishing this mark. Note the CCTV warning sign in the top corner of the picture. Unfortunately, many piers around the UK become a focal point of bad behaviour when so-called mackerel anglers descend on these marks and take part in anti-social behaviour – read more on our Responsible Sea Angling page.
Responsible anglers should disassociate themselves from these groups and avoid leaving litter or bait lying around, casting dangerously or taking part in any other forms of bad behaviour as this will create negative publicity for angling and likely see fishing restricted or banned from piers. Harbours and Ports: There are a huge number of private harbour and port areas around the UK, some of which see large volumes of commercial vessels enter and leave every day.
There is a wide variation in the ways in which harbours and ports treat anglers – in some harbours there will be clear areas where fishing is allowed and while in others fishing is banned entirely, often for safety reasons. It is the responsibility of anglers to know both the parts of a harbour where fishing is allowed and where it is not. Marine Conservation Zones: There has been much talk and media coverage over Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) being established around the UK, with plans to establish 127 MCZs being rolled out. Many of these MCZs are being designated in areas which are miles out to sea and therefore will not affect shore-based anglers, but the extent to which inshore MCZs will limit angling remains unknown.
There has been controversy over the lack of protection offshore MCZs provide with 97 per cent of designated MCZs still allowing some form of commercial fishing to take place within them, With this being the case it is unlikely (although not impossible) that inshore MCZs would ban or heavily restrict low-impact angling, although the exact way inshore MCZs will be implemented and the ways in which they affect angling remains to be seen.
Many people also quote the Magna Carta when it comes to bait collection as they claim that this gives them the right to collect bait from anywhere along the foreshore. This is mostly true as bait can be freely collected along much of the British coastline, but local councils do appear to be bringing in an increasing number of rules and regulations which limit, or in some cases ban, bait collection.
- The reasons for bait digging bans vary, but depletion of worm beds, disruption to bird colonies and the damage to the beach itself caused by anglers digging holes and trenches and then not filling them back in again are all causes.
- Areas next to commercial shellfish beds may also have bait collecting banned.
This article in the Independent from 1994 illustrates many of the issues between anglers, professional bait diggers and local authorities when it comes to bait collection. It is down to anglers to check if a beach has restrictions on bait collection (there will be signs present if bait digging is banned or restricted) and then adhere to them. A man digging for worms in Staithes Harbour, Scarborough. It is not only digging for worms that can be restricted. Certain shellfish such as scallops and crustaceans (especially edible crabs) can have restrictions placed on them, making it an offence to collect them – not just commercially but also by hand for personal consumption or bait use. Silver eel numbers have plummeted in number in recent years, meaning they are now a protected species and cannot be retained by anglers. All anglers should be aware of the minimum sizes for fish species – it is an offence to take fish which are below the minimum size and anglers caught doing this can face prosecution.
Many species which are classed as endangered or under commercial pressure are returned by anglers even (if they are above the minimum size) to preserve stocks. More information on this and the minimum sizes of UK sea fish can be found by following this link, A number of species have variable size limits depending on where about in the country they are caught, and species such as bass have different restrictions on their capture at different times of the year.
This is something which anglers must be aware of before going fishing as taking undersized fish, or catching fish when it is prohibited to do so, is a prosecutable offence. Anglers should also be aware that there are a number of different fish species which are legally protected due to their seriously endangered status.
- Silver eels have protected status in many parts of the UK due to the fact that they have reduced in number by an estimated 95 per cent over the last twenty years, and allis and twaite shad have been similarly reduced in number, meaning that they are also protected.
- It is an offence for anyone without the correct licence to kill or retain shad, and anyone inadvertently catching one must return the fish to the water as quickly as possible and with as little harm as possible to stay on the right side of the law.
Game fish (salmon and trout ) are also protected species in England as a licence is required to legally catch these species (different rules for salmon and trout exist in the devolved nations of the UK). Related article: Do I Need a Licence for Sea Fishing? In previous decades anglers were able to sell the fish they caught for profit if they so wished, but this is no longer the case.
The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) states that: “If you catch fish for your own enjoyment, you can keep it for your personal consumption but you must not sell it.” Source: Don’t Be Caught Out – MMO The MMO go on to state that this includes fish caught by recreational angling, on fishing holidays and caught at sporting events and fish caught by recreational fishing by diving, potting and netting.
Fish which are caught from a powered vessel can only be sold for profit if the person selling the fish (be it the vessel’s owner, the person who chartered the vessel or the person who caught the fish) has the correct licence. There are exemptions where the MMO states that people “may” be able to sell fish without a licence.
- This includes people fishing commercially from the shore without a vessel or from an unpowered boat less than ten metres in length.
- But the MMO go on to state that people doing this need to keep records of what they catch and sell and the MMO may check on their activities and pass the information on catches to environmental health and trading standards officers and HMRC.
After all that it can appear that there are a great number of bureaucratic rules and regulations on sea fishing, but it is important to remember that the vast majority of the coastline of the British Isles can be freely accessed for sea fishing. However, anglers should always follow the rules which do exist.
Do you need a fishing license UK?
You must have a rod fishing licence for England and Wales if you’re fishing for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eel with a rod and line in:
England (except the River Tweed) Wales the Border Esk region, including the parts of the river that are in Scotland
You can get a fine of up to £2,500 if you’re fishing in these areas and cannot show a valid rod fishing licence when asked. There are different rules for fishing in the rest of Scotland and Northern Ireland, Children under 13 do not need a licence. Licences for children aged between 13 and 16 are free. You’ll still need to get a junior licence,
How much is the fine for no fishing license UK?
Hefty fines for unlicensed anglers Two men have been handed hefty court fines for fishing illegally in separate offences at Manor Farm Lakes Northill, Bedford. They were caught in May last year fishing without a rod licence during targeted patrols by Environment Agency fisheries enforcement officers.
- Jay John Whitbread, 22, of Church Lane, Bedford, was caught fishing without a licence at the same location on 2 separate occasions and both cases were heard together at court.
- He was fined £657, and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30 and £127 costs.
- A total of £814.
- Liam Knight, 27, of Westmill Lane, Hitchin, was also caught fishing without a licence.
He was fined £293, and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30 and £127 costs. A total of £450. The defendants both pleaded guilty to Luton Magistrates Court on 6 March 2018. After the hearing Environment Agency officer Kye Jerrom said: It’s a crime to fish without a valid licence and offenders could be fined up to £2,500, have their fishing equipment seized and be banned from fishing.
- Our enforcement officers inspect rod licences throughout East Anglia and could turn up at any time.
- All income from rod licence sales is invested directly back into maintaining and improving fisheries.
- Those who fish without a rod licence are having a direct effect on that work and are selling other anglers short.
At £30 for a 2 rod coarse and non-migratory trout license, or £82 to also fish for salmon and sea trout, and short term options available too, the rod licence is great value for money”. Anglers are being reminded that fishing for coarse fish in rivers is off limits until 16 June and anyone caught can expect to be prosecuted and face a fine.
What is the fine for fishing without a rod licence in the UK?
Four-figure fine for fishing without licence A MAN caught fishing without a licence and gave officers a false name has been fined almost £1,500. In May 2022, a Natural Resources Wales Enforcement Officer was undertaking a routine patrol at Llyn Clywedog Reservoir near Llanidloes, when he spotted Robert Simpson, of Aberbargoed, Caerphilly, fishing from a boat.
- When Simpson returned to shore, he was asked to produce his rod licence, he replied that he had left his licence at home and told the officer his name was Stephen Fisher.
- The officer conducted a rod licence check and found there was no valid licence in the name of Stephen Fisher at the address supplied by Mr Simpson.
Once the officer explained that he could seize the fishing equipment and arrest Simpson if he did not give his correct details, he provided his correct name and address. Under caution Simpson admitted to using a friend’s details for licence checks. Having failed to attend court on three previous occasions, Mr Simpson was arrested on 11 January 2023, by PC Mark Powell, a police officer seconded to NRW, and taken to Newport Magistrates’ Court.
- At court, Simpson pleaded guilty to fishing without a valid rod licence and providing false information to an Enforcement Officer.
- He was fined £425 for providing false information, £100 for having no licence, ordered to pay costs of £877.50 and ordered to pay a Victim Surcharge of £52.50.
- Jeremy Goddard, Team Leader for NRW’s Mid Wales Waste and Enforcement Team said: “You must have a rod fishing licence for England and Wales if you’re fishing for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eel with a rod and line.
You could be fined up to up to £2,500 and your fishing equipment could be seized if you’re fishing and cannot show a valid rod fishing licence. “Children under 13 do not need a licence and licences for children between 13 and 16 are free. However, you still need to get a junior licence.” Rod licences can be purchased online at https://naturalresources.wales/permits-and-permissions/buy-a-fishing-rod-licence/?lang=en# Anyone who sees or suspects illegal fishing activity can report it to the NRW 24 hour incident hotline on 03000 65 3000 or on the NRW website: Natural Resources Wales / Report an incident : Four-figure fine for fishing without licence
Do you need a fishing license to fish from the beach in the UK?
The UK’s coastline offers up one of the most varied opportunities for sea angling to be found anywhere in the world. From the warm waters of the Atlantic in the south west to the cold waters of the n orthern North Sea, a huge variety of habitats and species can be found that offer year – round sea fishing action. Sea angling is generally split into shore fishing and boat fishing.
Shore fishing is by far the most widely practiced type of fishing due to it being relatively cheap to get started, free and accessible around the vast majority of the coastline of the UK. However, despite the cost of buying and maintaining a boat there are a very considerable number of privately-owned fishing boats with anglers fishing mainly within 0-12 miles of the coast.
In addition, the charter boat fleet around the country provides anglers with the opportunity to pay for access to boat fishing with experienced and knowledgeable charter skippers. In recent years kayak fishing has become increasingly popular because it allows anglers to get onto the water with relative ease, and at considerably less expense, compared to owning a boat.
- Boat fishing and kayak fishing offer the opportunity to target species that may be unavailable to the shore angler.
- Although bait fishing is probably still the most widely practiced method for catching most species there has been a surge in interest over recent years in saltwater fly fishing and fishing with artificial lures – the latter of which has been largely influenced by angling techniques in both the USA and Japan.
Although l ure fishing has, of course, been practiced to some degree since the dawn of sea angling. Licence Unlike coarse and game angling there is no licence required to fish recreationally for sea fish in the UK. Permits to fish may be required in specific locations such as those that are privately owned, such as piers, harbours etc.
Local clubs and tackle shops are always a good source of information on where permits are necessary. Tackle The tackle and equipment needed to fish at sea can be very specific. Boat rods and reels may, for example, need to be able to cope with very large fish in deep water. Likewise, beach fishing rods may require casting distances in excess of 150 meters.
Generally, sea angling equipment tends to be tougher, more resilient to corrosion, and more powerful than other forms of fishing tackle. However, there are also circumstances where coarse and game fishing tackle can be used, such as when light lure fishing or fishing for mullet, bass or flatfish like dabs and flounder.
Light Rock Fishing (LRF) is a popular and growing form of fishing using specially designed ultra-light fishing tackle to catch mini species. Entry level tackle can be found to suit any budget. Talk to your local tackle dealer who will be happy to help. Watercraft As with any other form of angling watercraft (or understanding the environment) can have a dramatic effect on your success – arguably even more so with sea angling.
To many, this watercraft, and developing an understanding of the natural environment and its interactions, is one of the great pleasures of angling. Many different factors affect the presence and movement of sea fish. Understanding the influence of the main ones listed below is essential to being a successful sea angler.
· Tides – the impact of tides on fish movement and feeding patterns cannot be overestimated. · Weather fronts – wind strength, wind direction and water temperature can all have a significant impact on your chances of finding, and catching, fish. · Light – in general, bright sunshine can be very bad for fishing while many fish often feed and come closer to shore in the hours of darkness or when the water is dirty.
· Seasons – fish migrate on a seasonal basis. Knowing these migration habits is essential to sea angling. · Features – gullies, rocks, reefs, sandbanks, seaweed beds, groynes and different depths of water are all features that sea anglers look out for at low tide because they act as holding areas for either fish or their prey.
- Species A huge variety of fish species are caught by sea anglers and not knowing what you might catch next is one of the pleasures of sea angling.
- Fish or interest to anglers can be broadly split into three categories: ‘round’ fish (such as cod, bass and mackerel), flatfish (such as plaice, flounder and turbot) and sharks, skates and rays.
The availability of species in any one area depends on many factors including the time of year, the sea temperature and the habitat. Local knowledge is key to knowing what species are present, when, and where. Conservation While one of the great pleasures of sea angling is being able to eat the fish that you catch, many anglers also practice ‘catch and release’ angling which allows unwanted fish to be returned alive to the environment.
- In addition, anglers and clubs should adhere to any legal minimum sizes that exist.
- The Angling Trust publishes recommended minimum retention sizes for most species and provides regular updates to members and supporters on conservation issues affecting sea angling.
- Opportunities exist for anglers to be involved in conservation initiatives, such as fish surveys, through clubs, the IFCAs and conservation organisations around the country.
Safety Sea anglers should always respect the power of the sea and the risks associated with it. Shore anglers can be swept off rocks into the sea or cut off by incoming tides. Boat anglers must take extra precautions going out to sea and ensure that adequate safety measures are taken to minimise the chances of an accident at sea which could result in needing to be rescued.
While sea angling is generally a very safe activity the risk of an accident is always present and measures to minimise the risk of an incident, such as the wearing of lifejackets on boats, are of the highest priority. Laws and Bylaws Rules governing angling, such as bag limits, minimum legal sizes, closed seasons and prohibited species are set through a combination of national, international and regional laws and bylaws.
We advise anglers to check with their local Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities for details of local bylaws. Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) There are 10 of these bodies round the coast of England and they are mandated to regulate both commercial and recreational fishing (including angling and bait collection) within 6 miles of the coast.
- They consist of a committee of local council members plus MMO appointed representatives of stakeholder groups and relevant experts.
- That committee directs the work of a number of IFCA officers who carry out the day-to-day responsibilities of that IFCA.
- Some, but not all, have specific recreational angling policies and some also have angling advisory/communication groups.
Those groups seek to promote the interests of anglers. Bait Collection The collection of bait for recreational sea angling is common and is part of the sea angling experience for many anglers. Until relatively recently it was largely unregulated but is now an activity that the Inshore Fishery and Conservation Authorities in England are required to manage – although the extent of this varies from IFCA to IFCA.
Lugworm (Arenicola spp.), ragworm (Nereis spp.) and crabs (particularly ‘peeler’) represent the vast majority of bait collected from the shoreline by most British sea anglers targeting a wide variety of fishes. Most are collected from intertidal mudflats, sandy beaches or rocky environments. While bait collection remains relatively small-scale at a local level, its total commercial value to coastal communities has been estimated between £25-30 million annually, making marine bait an important socio-economic resource in these areas.
For more information on bait digging see the Fish Legal Advice Sheet below. Access to Fishing Fishing is allowed from most beaches and other public coastal locations. Where there are restrictions on where or when you can fish these are normally controlled by local authorities such as councils and are often for health & safety reasons.
In a limited number of instances fishing from the shore may be restricted for conservation reasons. Access can be restricted on private land such as in harbours, marinas and on piers which are owned by private companies. In all cases anglers should do their best to make themselves aware of any restrictions where they are fishing.
Boat angling is reliant on access to slipways and marinas where boats can be launched or moored. Once at sea, angling access may be controlled for a number of different reasons including: Marine Protected Areas, shipping lanes, wind farms, navigation routes or conservation measures to protect fish stocks in specific locations or at particular times of year.
The Angling Trust campaigns to ensure the public’s right to fish is upheld and access to fishing is maintained or reopened where historic access has been denied. Advice Your local tackle shop will be able to give you advice about what tackle you will need to get into sea fishing. Some expert anglers might spend hundreds of pounds on rods and reels, but you could buy a basic fishing setup for about £25.
The key to getting started is to keep things really simple and try and get a friend or family member who has been fishing before to show you how to begin. Joining a local fishing club is a great way to learn how to fish and to get advice on places to fish and charter boats near to you.
Can anyone fish in UK waters?
The licence to fish – First and foremost, you will need that licence to fish on public water. As we mentioned, the Environment Agency is responsible for handing out rod fishing licences. If you’re under 12 years old you don’t need one. All 12-16 year olds need a licence, but it’s free.
After that, you can apply online for your fishing licence for one day, eight days or a whole year. You can buy a trout, coarse fish and eel licence only, or a full licence including salmon and sea trout for around £82 for 12 months. What the licence covers you for varies according to what you’re hoping to fish and where, with anything from one to three rods covered by the one licence.
More details can be found on the British Government’s fishing licence information page,
Can I keep the fish I catch UK?
You’re only allowed to keep a certain amount of the fish you catch. These fish must also be of a certain size. You must return fish you can’t keep to the water unharmed. You’re committing an offence and can be fined if you take too many fish or fish that aren’t the right size.
Can you fish in your own pond without a license UK?
But doesn’t a rod licence give me the right to fish anywhere? – To fish anywhere with rod and line on inland fisheries, including in the pond in your back garden or even in a large fish tank in your front room, you’ll need a rod licence. It’s known as a ‘hypothecated tax’ used by the fisheries regulator, the Environment Agency (EA), to maintain, improve and develop fisheries.
Can I magnet fish anywhere in the UK?
So our take on the magnet fishing laws in the UK is that it is only legal if the activity is done on private property and with authorisation. It is not allowed on property controlled by the Canal & River Trust.
How much is a fishing permit in the UK?
4. How Much Does A UK Fishing Licence Cost?
|Licence type||Trout and coarse up to 2-rod||Trout and coarse 3-rod|
|12-month – over 65 or disabled||£20||£30|
Is it legal to fish in rivers UK?
Anyone over 13 needs a fishing licence from the Environment Agency when you go rod fishing in any rivers, streams, canals, lakes, ponds or drains that are freshwater in England and Wales for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eel.
Can you fish UK rivers all year round?
Is there a closed season for coarse fishing? – Yes there is a close season for coarse fishing and it runs between March 15th – June 15th. So each year you can fish up until March 14th 23:59 and recommence on June 16th at 00:01 should you wish. Although that is a little extreme.
How much is a day fishing license UK?
How much does a Trout and coarse fish rod licence cost? – At the time of writing a one-day Trout, coarse fish and eel licence costs £6 whilst the eight-day licence costs £12 and a 12-month licence costs £30. Although one-day and eight-day licences are not available for three rods a 12-month three-rod licence currently costs £45.
Do you need a fishing licence on private land UK?
To fish in private waters you must buy: a rod licence and. a permit or day ticket.