The Angling Trust has given clubs and fisheries a great incentive to join up this week after it declared war on fish thieves, fish poachers and fish polluters.
In a shock decision, the sport¹s new, unified governing body is seeking to get convicted poachers barred from a fishery they were caught decimating during last year's closed season.
Despite having been caught illegally fishing River Wissey on May 25 last year, removing tench and perch without the controlling club's permission, and in possession of an illegal net and an unlicensed crayfish trap, the two poachers were ordered to pay only £60 in costs and had their boats confiscated.
Now the Trust¹s legal arm, Fish Legal (formerly the Anglers' Conservation Association), has written to Gunars Kaspers and Oleg Stepin on behalf of member club King's Lynn AA asking the pair to make an enforceable promise that they will never again fish on any of the association¹s waters.
If the pair refuse to make that promise, then Fish Legal will apply for county court injunctions against them trespassing on King's Lynn¹s waters.
"Our club has spent over £2,000, with help from the Environment Agency, putting signage on all access points on club waters highlighting that no fish can be removed,² explained Ashley Brown, secretary of King's Lynn AA.
"When these poachers were arrested, KLAA hoped the courts would make an example of them. We were very disappointed with the outcome and so decided to contact Fish Legal for advice on whether we could take further action as a further deterrent to stop people stealing our fish," he added.
According to Fish Legal¹s head solicitor Guy Linley-Adams, the message is now very clear: "Irrespective of what the EA does, the Angling Trust will take action on behalf of our member clubs by seeking an injunction against anyone caught stealing fish or using illegal fishing methods." Guy's stance was echoed by his boss, Angling Trust chief executive Mark Lloyd.
"One of the priorities of the Angling Trust is to fight for better protection of fish stocks from poachers and other illegal activity. This action on behalf of KLAA should send a clear message to all poachers that we mean business and will use all legal means at our disposal to prevent them from damaging our members' interests," said Mark.