Rivers, lakes and canals throughout England and Wales are being targeted in the latest in a series of national enforcement campaigns - one of which netted nearly 1,000 offenders in just three days during May last year.

Fisheries officers, who have identified evasion black spots, expect that everyone caught fishing without a licence will be prosecuted. Failure to produce a valid licence could result in a maximum fine of 2,500. The Agency's latest blitz begins on May 25

Dave Clarke, Head of Fisheries, said: "We've carried out an extensive advertising campaign reminding anglers to renew their licences.

"Licence cheats deprive honest anglers of money that should be used to improve the sport. Selling fewer licences means less income for fisheries and planned work may not be completed.

"In May last year evasion rates were high. The Foot and Mouth outbreak contributed to this with some anglers not buying licences because of reduced fishing opportunities. This year there are no excuses.

"Getting a licence couldn't be easier - there are around 17,000 Post Offices and other outlets which sell them direct; and for a small additional charge they can be purchased over the phone (0870 1662662) or from our web site - www.environment-agency.gov.uk/fish ."

The Agency carried out 11,851 checks during the three day blitz last May and prosecuted 989 anglers for either not having a licence or failing to produce one.

Who needs one?

1. Anyone aged 12 years or over, who fishes for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, or eels in England or Wales must have an Environment Agency rod fishing licence.
2. All monies collected from rod licences by the Environment Agency are invested directly into fisheries activities (enforcement, fish rearing and stocking, fish habitat improvement, monitoring fish abundance, disease detection, research and development, and fish rescues among other activities).
3. 2002/03 Rod licence duties are:

Licence Type Non-Migratory Trout and Coarse Salmon and Sea Trout
Full 21.00 60.00
Concessionary 10.50 30.00
Junior 5.00 30.00
8-Day 6.50 16.50
1-Day 2.50 5.50

4. Regional check results for the May 2001 blitz:

Region Proportion (%) failing to produce a licence
South West 6.2
Southern 13.3
North West 8.2
Midlands 7.9
EA Wales 8.9
North East 6.1
Anglian 5.3
Thames 15.3

All Environment Agency news releases, both national and regional, can be found on its web site: www.environment-agency.gov.uk