Eastern European community to help stop fish theft

A potential answer to the problem of non-nationals stealing fish has emerged from an unlikely source this week - the Eastern European community itself.

Foreign fishermen, fed up by being branded criminals due to the illegal activities of a minority of their fellow countrymen, are looking to set up a new ‘integration body’ aimed at tackling the problem by bridging the gap between the two communities.

The new organisation, the brainchild of a keen Polish specimen angler Radoslaw Papiewski, would seek to break down the boundaries between the different angling cultures by educating non-nationals about our rules and angling culture, and by encouraging UK anglers to embrace Eastern Europeans’ angling ideas and experience.

The news comes in the same week as witnesses reported non-nationals placing over 20 set lines in the River Nene, and also the removal, by the police, of a number of non-nationals from Gabriels Fishery in Kent for killing fish.

And, while the Environment Agency has got the rod licence message across, the battle to ensure these anglers practise catch and release continues unabated.

“We need to demonstrate that most Eastern European anglers are keen to tackle fish theft problems,” said Radoslaw.

“Discord isn’t helping to solve these problems. Anglers need to work together. Most of us want to protect fish stocks from illegal anglers, whether they’re foreign or British,” said the Chippenham-based specimen angler, who’s been living in the UK since 2004.

To help him set up the organisation, Radoslaw is in talks with the
Environment Agency, the Angling Trust and the Equality and Human Rights
Commission about how it could work in partnership with other angling organisations.

“Protecting fish is the common ground, and the best way to do this is to aid the integration of non-nationals into Britain’s angling culture through clubs and tackle shops. Many of these people will have been fishing for food all their lives, and the only way they’ll stop is if people properly explain to them why they shouldn’t be doing it any more,” said Radoslaw.

His argument is that education, and not alienation, is the key. To this end, he is proposing the new ‘integration body’ could perform a number of tasks, including:

  • Holding events that bring differing angling cultures together to exchange views and ideas.
  • Training Eastern European club members as bailiffs, who can then educate their own community.
  • Providing translators and translations of rules.
  • Working with foreign countries’ angling governing bodies to communicate with anglers thinking of coming to the UK.

Last week, the plans came a step closer to fruition when Radoslaw met
Angling Trust boss Mark Lloyd to discuss his plans.

“I think that creating an organisation like this is a very good idea,” said Angling Trust chief executive Mark.

“Education and bridge-building is the most constructive way of overcoming this problem of illegal fish removal. And any initiatives which bring our different cultures closer together gets our wholehearted support,” he added.

The proposal has also ticked boxes with the EA’s fisheries department which identified education as the best way of solving the localised problems of migrant workers breaking fisheries’ laws in East Anglia.

“The Environment Agency wants to encourage more people, from more backgrounds to go fishing more often, but sometimes it’s hard to find the right people to work with in some communities,” said EA angling development leader Richard Wightman.

“This is why it was great when Radoslaw stepped forward with his ideas. Like him, we think there’s a good opportunity opening up for him and others to help more people get into angling, and to encourage them to fish according to our traditions.

“That would be good for everyone, which is why we are talking to him, the Angling Trust and the Angling Development Board to see if we can help him take his ideas forward,” he added.