Angling is winning the fight against poaching and illegal fishing thanks to the growing army of volunteer crime fighters that are revolutionising the policing of venues nation-wide.
It has been revealed this week that the hugely successful ‘Voluntary Bailiff Scheme’, has now signed up over 400 anglers who are prepared to give up their spare time to protect the nation’s fish stocks and safeguard the future of the sport.
The Angling Trust and Environment Agency-backed scheme, which ultimately aims to equip volunteer anglers with the same powers as EA bailiffs, first began with 30 volunteers in the South East of the UK and earlier this year carried out 165 separate ‘closed season’ patrols on illegal fishing and poaching hotspots that led to the apprehension of 14 groups of law-breaking anglers.
With the scheme’s goal of being rolled out nation-wide edging ever closer to becoming a reality, the VBS has now taken to the road to visit anglers and fishing clubs across the UK in order to recruit and promote what many believe could be the ‘future of fishery enforcement’.
“The response that we’ve had to the scheme has been unbelievable. We’ve just staged our first of eight Fisheries Enforcement Workshops in Worcester in order to get as many people involved as we can,” said Dilip Sarkar, Fisheries Enforcement Manager for the Angling Trust.
“The scheme also now has a really close working relationship with a handful of Police forces who will be working with the volunteers and the EA to gather intelligence on illegal fishing and poaching.”
Birmingham Anglers Association, one of the UK’s biggest clubs, attended the Fisheries Enforcement Workshop in Worcester and they have announced their bailiffs are going to work in conjunction with West Mercia Constabulary, the EA and the Angling Trust to gather information on poaching hotspots on the Warwickshire Avon.
“The association is delighted to be a part of something like this because the EA fisheries teams have got smaller and smaller over the years and the passion and dedication of anglers is what’s going to make this a success,” said John William Chairman of Birmingham Anglers Association.
VBS in Numbers
53 – The number of volunteer bailiffs in the South East.
1,191 – The combined patrol hours of the bailiffs in the South East.
167 – Number of weekly report forms generated by the bailiffs.
8 – Number of incidents which have since been reported to the EA.
148 – Patrol hours per incident found.