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Kent Police join Operation Traverse - multi-agency campaign targeting illegal fishing and fish theft

11.02.19

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Launch at Kent Police HQ. From left: Sgt Darren Walshaw (Rural Team), Pete Gray (Environment Agency), Dave Wilkins (Angling Trust), Assistant Chief Constable Peter Ayling, Janusz Kansik (Angling Trust Building Bridges), Insp Dave Smith, Martynas Pranaitis (Environment Agency)

Kent Police has become the latest force to sign up to Operation Traverse - the multi-agency initiative started five years ago to tackle fish theft and illegal fishing.

At the official launch on Thursday, 7 February, the force pledged to continue to work closely with key partners, such as the Angling Trust and Environment Agency, to effectively tackle fisheries crime.

Inspector Dave Smith of Kent’s Rural Task Force said: “Poaching freshwater fish is a worrying crime for rural communities. Businesses can be devastated by the effects within a relatively short space of time; for example, a 40lb carp could be worth £10,000 and it would have a massive impact on a fishery if stolen.

“Poaching on a large scale is often associated with organised crime, this isn’t about taking a few fish, it’s about potentially devastating businesses and damaging rural communities. Often when challenged offenders are aggressive and intimidating and it is not acceptable that people feel fearful of those committing crime on their property.

“The Rural Task Force has been working to tackle the issue for some time and this campaign presents the opportunity to work closely with a number of partner agencies as well as other forces.”

Dave Wilkins, the Angling Trust's Regional Enforcement Manager in the South East, said: "Tackling fish theft and illegal fishing is vital if we are to protect fisheries. The Angling Trust Fisheries Enforcement Support Service has trained nearly 100 volunteer bailiffs in the South East in partnership with the Environment Agency and funded by fishing licence income. They act as ‘eyes and ears’ on riverbanks and lakesides to report incidents and suspicious activity to a high evidential standard.

“Across the country we’ve seen that partnership working can have a big impact on reducing fisheries crime so having Kent Police join Operation Traverse is terrific news for all responsible, law-abiding anglers.”

Dave Webb of the Environment Agency said: “The Environment Agency welcomes Kent Police to Operation Traverse. Partnerships with other law enforcement agencies are essential in tackling the range of criminality we find linked to poaching, stolen fish and illegal fishing.”

Anyone witnessing illegal fishing incidents can report them directly to the Environment Agency hotline, 0800 80 70 60. Information on poaching, illegal fishing and other crimes can be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Useful links:

The Fisheries Enforcement Support Service is a partnership between the Angling Trust and Environment Agency and funded by freshwater fishing licence income as part of the National Angling Strategic Services contract. More information about the Fisheries Enforcement Campaign

Anyone witnessing illegal fishing incidents can report them directly to the Environment Agency hotline, 0800 80 70 60. Information on poaching, illegal fishing and other crimes can be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

You need a valid Environment Agency Rod Licence if you are aged 13 or over and fish for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eel in England. You can buy a Rod Licence HERE

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