FIshing thefts a concern for angling community

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Social media and the press have been full of articles and speculation about fish removal for the table.

Obviously this is a concern shared by all anglers so I thought I’d cover the subject a bit this week.

With the river season now ended, many waters are left un-managed right through to the re-start of the season in June, making them easy targets for criminals. Perhaps another reason why the closed season should be scrapped but we really should be policing our waters all year round.

I recently met with Angling Trust National Enforcement Manager, Dilip Sarkar MBE to get an update on what’s being done to help protect our fisheries.

He said: “There has never been as much help available to fishery owners, managers and angling clubs to protect their fisheries from crime as there is today. “It is crucially important that we are all aware of the help and advice on offer – and take full advantage of it.

“The Angling Trust Fisheries Enforcement Support Service (FESS) is a formal partnership with the Environment Agency (EA).

“As a retired West Mercia Police officer and life-long angler, I manage the FESS, with six fellow former police officers working as Regional Enforcement Managers (REMs).

“Their job is to act as a ‘bridge’ between anglers, the EA and police. They run the Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS) locally, raise awareness of fisheries crime and initiate a partnership approach, including multi-agency operations like TRAVERSE.”

The REMs can also visit, upon request, fisheries and tackle shops to provide Crime Prevention Advice.

The REMs also act as a regional point of contact for the police, including local response and Wildlife Crime Officers, and UK National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU).

The REMs work very closely with EA area fisheries enforcement teams, so are a good source of local knowledge, able to connect anglers with their local police and EA officers.

It is crucial to understand how the system works – which is entirely driven by incoming calls and the intelligence arising from them.

The statistics arising from those calls are also vital to evidencing the extent of our issue and strengthening the argument for the police and EA to deploy more resources.

If you see something, you must do your bit and report it. Make that call! – In all cases ask for a reference number and request feedback. If things go wrong, let the Angling Trust know so they can chase this up with the police and EA on your behalf.

Ensure that your fishery staff, club bailiffs and members are familiar with the guides to angling law and police reporting provided by the Angling Trust, endorsed by the police and EA.

These essential points of reference can be downloaded from www.anglingtrust.net.

The Angling Trust and EA, in partnership with the police, run Fisheries Enforcement Workshops, providing an overview of essential points, including how the process works, the Theft Act, and Conflict Resolution. Attendance is FREE, so contact your local REM and go to one!

Ensure that your fishery has signage clearly indicating the private rights to fish. Signs are a good deterrent and are are a ‘vital’ piece of evidence needed to effect a prosecution.

Mr Sarkar added: “Prevention is always better than detection, so the mantra goes, so educating anglers from Eastern Europe, whose angling law and culture is very different to ours, has to be a part of what is a comprehensive strategy.

“The Angling Trust Building Bridges Project engages with migrant communities accordingly, provides multi-lingual signage and leaflets to fisheries and clubs, and arranges integration angling events.”

Useful contact numbers…

Fishing without permission and fish theft; Tel Police 101

Rod License and fisheries offences; Tel EA 0800 80 70 60

Your Angling Trust Regional Enforcement Managers

Midlands Kevin Pearson 07495 433620

NW David Lees 07495 433618

NE Giles Evans 07495 433619

Eastern Paul Thomas 07495 433621

SW Nevin Hunter 07495 433622

SE Gary Lawless 07495 433623

Many thanks to Dilip and his team for their great efforts over the last few years.

It’s encouraging to know that we now have a proper strategy and key contacts in place to help us protect our fisheries.

The main point her though is that the scheme cannot work without anglers doing their bit by policing their waters properly, checking for long-lines and the most important thing; reporting incidents.

All fisheries must however, have adequate signage in place to meet legal requirements for prosecutions.

Signs are cheap to buy and Gap Signs at Retford offer a free design service for fishery owners www.gap_signs.co.uk. We now have a much bigger fisheries enforcement department so if we all work together we should finally get to grips with the changing threats to our sport.

Tight Lines, Alan Dudhill

If you have angling stories or pictures, email our angling expert alan@pikemaster.co.uk or give him a call on 07815 308463. This column is sponsored by www.retfordangling.co.uk.

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