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Is it Legal to Fish in the UK?

Fishing in the UK is generally permitted, but there are certain rules and regulations that anglers must adhere to. These regulations are in place to protect fish stocks, preserve the environment, and ensure sustainable fishing practices. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key aspects of fishing regulations in the UK.

The Key to Fishing Legally

To fish legally in the UK, you will typically need a fishing license or permit. These licenses are issued by the Environment Agency in England, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in Scotland, the Natural Resources Body for Wales (NRW), and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland. The type of license you require will depend on where and what you plan to fish. It’s essential to obtain the appropriate license before you start fishing to avoid any legal repercussions.

Types of Fishing Licenses

There are different types of fishing licenses available in the UK, including:

  • Rod Fishing License

This license allows you to fish for non-migratory trout, char, freshwater fish, and eels in rivers, streams, and non-tidal waters.

  • Salmon and Sea Trout License

If you wish to fish for salmon, sea trout, or both, you will need this license. It grants you the right to fish in rivers, estuaries, and coastal waters.

  • Coarse Fish License

For anglers interested in fishing for coarse fish, such as carp, pike, roach, and bream, a coarse fish license is required.

  • Migratory Fish License

This license is specifically for those who want to fish for migratory fish species like salmon and sea trout.

Knowing When and Where to Fish

In addition to licenses, anglers must also be aware of seasonal restrictions that apply to certain fish species. These restrictions are designed to protect fish during their breeding seasons, ensuring the continuation of healthy populations. It’s crucial to check the specific rules and regulations for the area where you plan to fish, as these restrictions can vary. Some common seasonal restrictions include:

Close Season for Coarse Fishing

The close season for coarse fishing usually runs from March 15th to June 15th in rivers and some still waters. During this period, it is illegal to fish for certain coarse fish species.

Salmon and Sea Trout Seasons

The seasons for salmon and sea trout fishing can vary depending on the location and river. It’s important to check the local regulations to determine when the fishing season begins and ends.

Protected Areas

To protect vulnerable fish populations and their habitats, certain areas in the UK have been designated as conservation zones. These areas may have additional restrictions or require specific permits to fish legally. It is essential to research and familiarise.