Producing upwards of half a million fish each year, Calverton fish farm is the Environment Agency’s equivalent of an Amazon warehouse for fish restocking and is once again preparing for the fast approaching fish spawning season.
Calverton’s work stocking fisheries across England is one of many projects up and down the country fully funded by fishing licence income. Today (Tuesday 24 January 2022) the Environment Agency’s fisheries annual report (Fisheries annual report 2021 to 2022 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)) reveals how nearly £22m in rod licence income – achieved through almost 935,000 fishing licence sales – has been spent during 2021 and 2022 to enhance and protect England’s fisheries.
First opened in 1940, Calverton has gone on to become one of the largest freshwater fish rearing facilities in England, rearing nine freshwater species to boost fish stocks in rivers and stillwaters up and down the country. It also aides the recovery of fish populations after pollution events, rears threatened species such as the crucian carp, and supports fisheries research and development.
Over the last year, the EA has worked with over 1000 partners including The Angling Trust, The Wild Trout Trust and the Institute of Fisheries Management to improve fish stocks and habitats, provide new facilities for anglers and make fisheries more accessible.
Funded by EA fishing licence income, the Angling Trust launched two new campaigns in 2022, including the ‘Get Fishing for Wellbeing’ and ‘We Fish as one’ projects offering advice to the public on how to start fishing and find mental health support near them; and encouraging people from all backgrounds to take up fishing.
Heidi Stone, Environment Agency Fisheries Manager said:
Our annual report is our summary to you to show where we spent the money we receive. From improving fish habitats, to controlling threats from non-native species right through to making fishing more accessible, the EA has carried out some fantastic projects this year that will improve our fisheries and benefit anglers around the country.
These are key examples of how we inject income from fishing licence fees directly back into fisheries – and I want to thank anglers for continuing to play their part and allowing us to invest in projects to help our environment flourish.
In 2022, more than 50 projects were completed through the Angling Improvement Fund (AIF) – funded by EA rod licence income – with many of these funding biosecurity measures to protect fisheries from predators such as otters and cormorants. In particular, Top Farm fishery in Worcester was suffering from serious predation caused by cormorants as well as grebes, and a survey revealed that they were incurring substantial silver fish losses. Through the AIF, the fishery was granted over £2000 towards the cost of 6 floating islands that have provided fish protection and cover, enabling stocks to thrive once again.
Over the last year, 30 fish passes were built and 16 weirs and barriers removed to support valuable fish stocks. The River Derwent in Derbyshire, for example, has seen fish populations steadily improving thanks to the EA’s work in removing Snake Lane Weir, completed in October 2022 with support from The Wild Trout Trust as part of the EA’s Water Environment Investment Fund (WEIF). Having barred access upstream for fish for centuries, this project has opened up a further 9km of habitat for all fish including Atlantic Salmon – helping to transform the river and its ecosystem.
The EA enforcement teams continue to make sure anglers comply with regulations to protect fish stock. In 2021 to 2022, fisheries enforcement officers checked just over 41,000 fishing licences and successfully prosecuted nearly 730 anglers for fishing without a licence. You must purchase a fishing licence to fish in England and Wales. Annual licences start from £30 and can be purchased online or by phone, more information can be found here: Buy a rod fishing licence: When you need a licence – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).