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Army of volunteers help crack down on illegal
fishing – now 474 anglers have joined the Angling
Trust’s Voluntary Bailiff Service
The fight against illegal fishing has
received a massive boost with the
recruitment of an additional 150
anglers to the Angling Trust’s Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS). Following
induction days held in six regions
throughout the past three months,
there are now 474 volunteer bailiffs
operating in England who act as the
“eyes and ears” on riverbanks and
lakes, reporting suspicious incidents
and providing crucial information to
the Environment Agency and police.
The VBS is funded from rod licence
money and began as a pilot project in
the south east in 2012 following a formal partnership between the Environment Agency and the Angling
Trust. It was rolled out across the
country 12 months ago and now has
115 volunteers in the south east, 58 in
south west, 51 in north west, 80 in
north east, 90 in the Midlands and 80
in the eastern region.
The volunteers receive training
from Environment Agency enforcement officers and the Trust’s Fisheries
Enforcement Support Service – a
team of eight retired police officers,
six of whom also manage the VBS
network in their regions.
Volunteers also have the opportunity to attend joint patrols with the
Environment Agency and police,
understand the law and are trained in
reporting what they see and hear to a
high evidential standard.
D i l i p S a r k a r M B E , t h e Tr u s t ’s
National Enforcement Manager, said:
“We have come a very long way since
the pilot project was launched and
now have a sound foundation to take
this further, increase engagement and
provide more practical training. With
nearly 500 volunteer bailiffs, their
presence on riverbanks and lakesides
will make a difference, both in reporting suspicious activity and deterring
people from committing an offence.”
Graeme Storey, the Environment
Agency’s national fisheries manager,
said: “The vast majority of anglers do
the right thing and buy a fishing
licence; however, there are some people that try to evade buying a licence.
L a s t y e a r, e n f o r c e m e n t o f f i c e r s
checked more than 53,000 licences
and prosecuted over 2,300 anglers.
Our VBS carry out vital work and now
having 474 VBS officers on the ground
will create even greater deterrence.”
Working together: an Environment Agency fisheries enforcement officer
patrolling with West Mercia Police and a Volunteer Bailiff.
Funding secured for Angling Trust roles
helping to tackle fishery predation
Funding for two vital Angling Trust
roles to help tackle predation by cormorants and goosanders has been
extended for a further two years.
The Environment Agency has been
given approval to use rod licence
income to safeguard the Fisheries
Management Adviser (FMA) posts
until April 2019. Where appropriate,
the area-based approach to issuing
licences for lethal control will also
continue, rather than requiring every
individual fishery to submit an individual application.
Since being appointed three years
ago, the FMAs have helped hundreds
of fishery managers on rivers and
lakes not only with licence applications but with practical advice to protect fish using innovative techniques
such as the use of lasers and lifelike
mannequins to deter birds, as well as
exclusion tactics and fish refuge.
While their work will be very much
focused on the issues around fish-eating birds, the FMAs are also able to
advise those fishery managers
encountering other predation problems such as otters.
Mark Owen, Angling Trust’s Head
of Freshwater, said: “I am delighted
that funding has been secured for
these important roles. It enables our
two FMAs to continue to provide
invaluable advice and practical support to angling clubs and fisheries all
over the country which has successfully helped to protect fisheries from
Judy Proctor, Head of Fisheries at
t h e E n v i r o n m e n t A g e n c y, s a i d :
“Securing the funding for the FMA
roles is great news for us and the
work we do. Their roles enable us to
fulfil our duty to protect fish stocks,
improve fisheries and support angling
clubs and partners. The funding
secured highlights the importance of
rod licence income and how it is used
to benefit the angling community as a
whole.” n


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