Angling Times recently reported that the Environmental Agency plans to move the sale of Rod Licences entirely online.
You can buy Rod Licences online already through the government website or over the phone, but as of 16th January 2023, you’ll no longer have the option to purchase them at your local post office. Fish without a valid rod licence and you could face fines of up to £2,500.
This decision has angered many and has prompted conversations surrounding the introduction of technology into angling and how it’s changing the way we fish. What does this latest change mean for the future of angling?
Should fishing clubs follow suit?
There is evidence to suggest that moving rod licence and angling club membership sales online could increase participation because the process is more convenient for the angler. It’s not a particularly fast process if a new angler needs to buy their rod licence online but still has to complete their membership forms on paper and send them via the post. The inconvenience of a paper club membership may push anglers away from joining if they’ve come to expect a quick online purchase option.
Does moving to digital really save money?
The move to make rod licence sales online is geared towards saving costs for the Environmental Agency, but is there any proof to suggest that it will?
We can’t speak on behalf of the environmental agency, but we can speak for clubs that join anglers using paper forms. While many online tools – member management systems, payments providers like PayPal etc. – come with a monthly or annual fee that’s seen as an added cost straight away, the costs associated with printing off forms and shipping membership cards are often accepted as part of the job. Along with the financial cost, there’s also a significant time cost. Many secretaries spend hours upon hours each week collecting membership forms, printing ID cards, sending out ID cards, banking cheques or cash – all that time could be spent increasing participation in the sport.
When we ran the numbers and if an angling club, fishery or syndicate with 200 members and an average membership fee of £80 per year, they could save more than £2,500 per year on printing and postage costs if they implemented Clubmate.
Resist or embrace?
Nowadays, most anglers are familiar with using technology and the internet as a part of their day-to-day lives as well as in their angling, from buying tackle online and uploading catch pictures on social media to castable fish finders, anglers have become accustomed to it and are expectant of the benefits it brings.
However, there are still a proportion of anglers that aren’t used to using tech in their angling. For them, doing things online can feel like a never-ending change that they can’t keep up with and it might feel like an upheaval of everything they’re used to doing; joining clubs with paper forms and renewing their rod licence at the post office. However, 90% of people aged 45-60 and 68% of people aged 61-75 now own smartphones, so the majority are happy to keep up with technological advances.
In our experience, it pays to have a couple of methods for anglers to join your club. For example, you can continue to support your local tackle shops by selling memberships there as well as online.
So should we resist or embrace the introduction of technology in angling? Although it might seem like a big change, it can bring with it greater growth opportunities, increased participation in angling and improved productivity for committees, resulting in a massively improved member experience. Rod licence sales moving online should ultimately lead to greater efficiency so that we can all concentrate on fishing, as well as future-proofing the sport so that younger generations can continue the angling legacy using methods they’re familiar with, which is the most important thing after all!
Are you looking to keep up with technology in the angling industry? Look no further than Clubmate, an angling membership management software designed to help forward-thinking fishing clubs and business-smart fisheries remove unnecessary admin, save money and take back your spare time.