Operation CLAMPDOWN 6 – the annual blitz on illegal coarse fishing during the close season – launched on 15th March with 464 reasons not to flout the law.
That’s the current number of Angling Trust volunteer bailiffs in England who will be taking part by keeping watch on their local rivers and reporting any suspect activity to the Environment Agency and police.
That number will also be increasing throughout the close season as more volunteers are inducted and join the highly successful Voluntary Bailiff Service initiative.
Anyone caught and prosecuted for fishing illegally during the close season, which runs from 15th March to 15th June inclusive, faces a maximum fine of £50,000 upon conviction.
A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: “The message is simple - don’t take the risk of a fine and a criminal conviction. Last year, Environment Agency Enforcement Officers ran 670 close season patrols, reporting 122 anglers for illegally fishing in the close season. The chances of being caught out are even greater this year, thanks to the support of Angling Trust VBS members.”
Angling Trust National Enforcement Manager, Dilip Sarkar MBE, a retired West Mercia Police officer, said: “This annual multi-agency operation is an important one, providing an ideal opportunity for all partners to work together to protect fish and fisheries. Our volunteers, trained to report incidents and information to a high evidential standard, contributing to the intelligence-led system, are essential to this process and we are grateful to each and every one.”
There are still plenty of opportunities to wet a line for coarse fish whilst rivers and streams are off limits. The vast majority of stillwaters and canals will be open - check your local byelaws for the list of sites included within the statutory close season.
All full licences now run for 365 days from purchase, anglers should make sure they know when theirs expires.
The Voluntary Bailiff Service is currently recruiting in East of England, in readiness for the mandatory induction and training day being run in partnership with the Environment Agency and police on 12th May, 2018. Anyone wishing to apply should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.