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New training scheme for angling's key volunteers helping to protect England's fisheries


VBS NW Training Day 21 Apr 2018 (1) x550px

A training programme has been introduced to assist key volunteers working with the Angling Trust’s army of nearly 500 volunteer bailiffs protecting fisheries in England.

Following research into volunteering best practice by Fisheries Enforcement Support Officer Karen Sarkar, a dedicated training package has now been created for all Area Coordinators (ACs) operating within the Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS).

The first of these sessions took place in the North West region on Saturday, 21st April, at Fir Tree Fishery, Wigan, and represents a landmark in the history of VBS. As well as information on confidentiality, data protection and health & safety issues, ACs also had sessions on developing their roles, and managing and motivating volunteer bailiffs.

Funded by fishing licence income, the VBS is an increasingly important partnership between the Angling Trust and Environment Agency and now has 496 trained ‘eyes and ears’ protecting fish and fisheries and reporting information and incidents to the Agency and police, enabling action to be taken against offenders.

Angling Trust Regional Enforcement Managers are responsible for the VBS in their regions supported by Area Coordinators – key volunteers whose role is to maintain communication with volunteer bailiffs locally, help arrange joint patrols with the Agency and police, and generally support the process.

Dave Lees, Angling Trust’s Regional Enforcement Manager (North West), said: “‘This training is another important step in the continued development of the VBS. It is always a pleasure to meet up with our knowledgeable and committed volunteers, who give up their time to positively contribute, and I am grateful to all who attended. I would particularly like to thank Fir Tree Fishery for the use of their excellent facilities.”

Kevin O'Sullivan, Merseyside Area Coordinator, said: “This is real progress and an indication of how important and valued the Area Coordinator role is. The information and discussions on the day will help ACs work more closely with the Regional Enforcement Manager and local volunteer bailiffs, increasing communication and coordinating effort.”

The training was supported by Andy Eaves, Environment Agency Fisheries Officer, who commented: “This training is all part of the Agency and Angling Trust working together to protect fish and fisheries. Meeting the local Area Coordinators really helps us to cement this important relationship.”

AC training and general VBS refresher training will be provided by enforcement and policing professionals in all six English regions over the coming weeks.

The VBS is currently engaged in Operation CLAMPDOWN 6, the annual multi-agency focus on illegal fishing and fish theft during the coarse close season.

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