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Hundreds of volunteer bailiffs to take part in Close Season crackdown on illegal fishing


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Trained volunteer bailiffs will be patrolling the country’s rivers this coming close season for what will be one of the biggest crackdowns on illegal fishing and fish poaching.

Operation CLAMPDOWN 7, a joint initiative involving the Angling Trust, the Environment Agency and scores of police forces, begins on March 15 and will see volunteers keep watch on waters throughout the coarse fishing close season which runs until June 15.

There are now over 400 volunteer bailiffs operating in the six English regions – North East, North West, Midlands, East, South East and South West – and that number will be increasing throughout the close season as new volunteers are inducted into this highly successful initiative.

The volunteers are part of the Angling Trust’s Voluntary Bailiff Service, run in partnership with the Environment Agency and funded through fishing licence income.

Operation CLAMPDOWN 7 volunteers will be patrolling their local rivers and reporting any suspect activity to the Environment Agency and police if witnessing offences of illegal fishing during the close season on relevant waterways. The maximum fine for fishing illegally during the close season is £50,000 upon conviction.

During the 2018 close season, volunteer bailiffs carried out 3,066 patrols totalling 6,555 hours, including 30 with the police and 41 with the Environment Agency, reporting 145 close season and other illegal incidents.

Environment Agency Fisheries Manager Graeme Storey said: “As part of Operation CLAMPDOWN in 2019, Environment Agency Enforcement Officers are planning hundreds of close season patrols. The message is simple: don’t risk a fine and a criminal conviction. During last year’s coarse fish close season campaign we recorded 252 offences. We welcome the support of the Angling Trust volunteer bailiffs acting as a network of eyes and ears, helping to provide the intelligence that drives this campaign.”

Dilip Sarkar MBE, Angling Trust National Enforcement Manager and a retired West Mercia Police officer, 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 of modern-day policing. They are essential to this process and we are grateful to each and every one.”

There are still plenty of opportunities to wet a line for coarse fish whilst rivers and streams are off limits. The majority of stillwaters and canals will be open and anglers should check local byelaws for the list of sites included within the statutory close season. All full licences now run for 365 days from purchase and anglers should make sure they know when theirs expires.

The Voluntary Bailiff Service is currently recruiting throughout England (except South East region) in readiness for mandatory induction and training days being run this spring. Anyone wishing to apply should contact

Further information on the Voluntary Bailiff Service can be found HERE

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