Volunteer bailiffs support Environment Agency in close season crackdown

The Angling Trust’s Fisheries Enforcement Support Service and Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS) will be delivering Operation Clampdown 10 in partnership with the Environment Agency’s fisheries officers during the annual coarse fishing close season on rivers (March 15 – June 15 inclusive).

The VBS will be reporting suspicious activity and incidents to the Environment Agency and police. Anyone convicted of illegally fishing during the close season faces a significant fine and possible confiscation of equipment.

Kevin Austin, Deputy Director for Agriculture, Fisheries and the Natural Environment at the Environment Agency, said:

“Every year, between March and June, our rivers begin to reawaken and our fish populations will soon begin spawning. The close season aims to protect fish during this delicate time to ensure they remain healthy and resilient. Alongside our fisheries improvement work, the close season gives our fish populations the chance to recover.

“Going fishing is a great way to connect with nature, relax and unwind – and we always encourage new anglers to give fishing a go. However, we are aware that not all new anglers will have knowledge of fishing rules like the close season. If you know a new angler, please remind them of the close season dates.

“Anglers who do still want to get out on the banks during the close season can still visit many stillwaters and canals, depending on landowner agreement, or try their hand at trout fishing, though a valid fishing licence is still required.

“The Environment Agency takes illegal fishing very seriously. Anyone fishing illegally should expect to be prosecuted and to face a substantial fine. Those who suspect illegal fishing should report it to the Environment Agency’s incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”

Nino Brancato, Angling Trust National Enforcement Support Manager, said:

“After 10 years ,the positive impact of the work of the Voluntary Bailiff Service cannot be underestimated in supporting fisheries enforcement across England. A key part of this has been our work on Operation Clampdown.

“This year’s close season will be another great opportunity for the Fisheries Enforcement Support Service and the Voluntary Bailiff Service to work closely with the Environment Agency and police during Operation Clampdown 10.

“Our dedicated volunteer bailiffs will be out on patrol and taking part in coordinated joint activity around the nation’s waterways in an eyes and ears capacity – gathering intelligence and reporting incidents in support of our enforcement partners as part of our multi-agency approach to protecting fish and fisheries.”

Now in its 10th year, Operation Clampdown is a national multi-agency initiative targeting illegal fishing during the coarse fishing close season on rivers, streams, drains and specified canals as well as stillwaters that are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The Voluntary Bailiff Service is part of the Angling Trust’s Fisheries Enforcement Support Service, which is funded from fishing licence income and delivered in partnership with the Environment Agency.

There are still plenty of opportunities for anglers to get out on the banks to fish for coarse fish while rivers, streams, drains and other sites that the close season applies to are off-limits. The vast majority of stillwaters and canals in England remain open for fishing. Anglers should ensure they have the necessary permission to fish and a valid Environment Agency fishing licence.


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