(Photo From left to right Nevin Hunter (The Angling Trust Regional Enforcement Manager), Rural Crime Officer PC Marc Jackson and Keith Whitefoot (the fishing club Secreatary for Westleaze Waters AC)
Wiltshire Police Rural Crime Officers will be supporting Operation Clampdown 5, working closely with the Angling Trust and the Environment Agency focusing on tackling fishing offences.
Operation Clampdown 5 is running across England to target illegal close season fishing. The close season, between 15 March and 15 June, is when coarse angling is suspended on rivers, streams and some specified canals and still waters to protect spawning fish.
During Operation Clampdown 5, Angling Trust Volunteer Bailiffs will be reporting any suspicious activity to the Environment Agency – and to the police if illegal fishing on private waters is spotted.
Rural Crime Officers will be gathering intelligence and highlighting the importance of reporting people who continue to fish illegally.
Operation Clampdown 5 will be targeting the core close season offences. These offences include fishing during the close season, attempting to take or destroy fish, fishing without permission and fish poaching.
Rural Crime Officer PC Marc Jackson said: “Wiltshire Police along with the Rural Crime Partnership are committed to working with local communities, and those involved in legal fishing activities to tackle fishing related offences.
“Wiltshire Police will be working with the Angling Trust and Environment Agency to target people who openly flaunt the regulations and legislation around fishing during the current closed season.
“The Rural policing team will be carrying out targeted patrols in areas where information suggests illegal fishing is taking place.
“Fishing offences can be committed by a variety of people and in numerous ways, from those working alone to organised criminal gangs who will steal to order on a larger scale.
“This has a negative impact on the surrounding communities and a financial impact on the fishing clubs.
“We would encourage local fishermen or clubs to get involved in the Angling Trust Volunteer Bailiff scheme via their website, and work with us to combat this type of criminality.
“Anyone with any information which may assist in the disruption of such activity, can contact any of the agencies involved in Operation Clampdown”
Nevin Hunter, The Angling Trust Regional Enforcement Manager and a former Head of the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit 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 are trained to report incidents and information to a high evidential standard, contributing to the intelligence-led system, and are essential to this process.
“The Angling Trust’s Voluntary Bailiff Service is inducting more volunteers this close season making this Operation Clampdown the most supported to date.
“It is wonderful that we can work with Wiltshire Police and partners embracing action against fishing related crime and in the wider fight against rural crime making our communities safer for all.”
Keith Whitefoot, the fishing club Secreatary for Westleaze Waters AC in Swindon, said: “The Volunteer Bailiff Service is an excellent initiative from the Angling Trust. The volunteers, with support from the Environment Agency and the police, can really help combat poaching.
“Local residents can also advise a club if someone is fishing illegally at night on their waters.
“The main types of fishing offences we see in my experience falls into four categories.
“People who steal fish, this can be to put into their own ponds or lakes, steal fish to eat, or stealing smaller fish to use as live bait for larger fish types like pike.
“Or people who are fish poachers, that do not wish to pay for a membership or day ticket but fish anyway.
“These fishing offences not only have an impact on a club fish stocks, it also affects membership numbers as people will not re-join if stocks are reduced.
“These offences can have a deadly effect by transferring disease from one site to another. There are very strict regulations which have to be adhered to when legally moving fish from one site to another.”
Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said: “It is good to see Wiltshire Police working closely with the local angling community to tackle another aspect of rural crime.”