Selling Rod-Caught Fish Could Land You A Hefty Fine


A new ban on selling rod-caught salmon and sea trout could see anglers, fishmongers and restaurants landed with a hefty fine if they fall foul of the rules.
New laws introduced this year mean that it is an offence to sell rod-caught salmon and sea trout – a measure introduced to crack down on illegal fishing and protect vulnerable fish stocks for the future.
It is still legal to sell wild salmon and sea trout that have been caught by net, and to help the catering trade know exactly what they are buying, any net-caught salmon and sea trout in England and Wales must, by law, have an Environment Agency carcass tag attached to it. Farmed fish and imported net-caught fish do not need to be tagged and will not have an Environment Agency carcass tag attached to them.
Overall, salmon and sea trout numbers have declined in recent decades and one in five of the principal salmon rivers in England and Wales is at risk of not having sustainable stocks in 2013. The ban on the sale of rod-caught fish is just one of a number of measures the Environment Agency, fisheries organisations, fishery owners and anglers are taking to protect stocks of salmon and sea trout for the future. The law has been introduced to remove the market for rod-caught fish, leaving poachers unable to sell their illegal catch and discouraging a minority of anglers from killing large numbers of fish for sale.
Mat Crocker, Head of Fisheries at the Environment Agency, said: “Salmon and sea trout are vital to the health of our rivers. They bring in millions of pounds to rural areas through angling tourism and support important and traditional net fisheries. We want these fisheries to be sustainable to benefit future generations - removing the market for illegally caught and rod-caught fish allows more salmon and sea trout to spawn, increasing the numbers returning to our rivers in future years.”
The Environment Agency will be policing fish markets, fishmongers, restaurants and other outlets for wild salmon and sea trout, to provide advice and make sure no one is acting illegally. The organisation has also sent a ‘buyer-beware’ leaflet, explaining the changes, to every fishmonger in England and Wales, as well as to hotels, restaurants and pubs in game fishing areas. This should help anyone trading in wild fish to distinguish between what they can buy and sell legally. The leaflet is available to download from our website at
Mat Crocker continues, “We would advise anyone buying wild salmon or sea trout to make sure the fish are tagged and have been legally caught. Untagged fish for sale will attract our attention. You can also help in the fight against illegal fishing, protecting salmon and sea trout stocks for future generations - if you are offered fish in suspicious circumstances or suspect fish are being sold illegally, please call us on our incident hotline – 0800 80 70 60.”

A byelaw introduced in January 2009 makes it an offence to sell, offer for sale or exchange for goods or services rod-caught salmon or sea trout in England and Wales. Anyone buying or selling illegally caught or rod-caught fish risks a substantial fine. The maximum fine is currently up to £2,500.
To allow net fishers to continue to sell their catch a byelaw requires them to tag all net-caught fish and record the details in an annual logbook. They are issued enough tags to cover their anticipated annual catch.
Although introduced in January and applying to sea trout from March, the measures really take effect this month – the annual salmon net fishing season opened on 1 June and, 16 June sees the end of the annual mandatory catch and release period for rod caught salmon.
The tags are uniquely numbered and tamper-proof. They must be fastened through the mouth and gills as soon after capture as possible, and remain with the fish until it is “processed” (which includes eviscerating, heading and freezing; cutting into cutlets or fillets; or curing). The 2009 tags are green in colour.
Farmed salmon and sea trout and imported wild net-caught salmon and sea trout do not need to be tagged (although a similar tagging scheme operates in Ireland). Buyers and sellers of these fish should be able to provide evidence of their origin, for example, receipts from the net fisher or dealer.
Existing restrictions on taking early season (spring) salmon were renewed in 2009 for 10 years. Salmon net fishing can not start until 01 June and all salmon caught by rod and line before 16 June must be returned unharmed.
These byelaws are available on our website at
You can obtain a copy of the buyer-beware leaflet from our website at or by calling 08708 506 506 (Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm)
Salmon fishing in England and Wales contributes an estimated £6billion a year to the UK economy and 18 of our salmon rivers have been designated as Special Areas of Conservation.  
For more information about fishing in England and Wales visit