Environment Agency enforcement officers will be on patrol this weekend in a close season Easter crackdown on illegal angling.
They’ll be out in force patrolling waters throughout the North East, Cumbria and Lancashire to make sure anglers are fishing in the right place, with the right tackle and equipment, and with a valid licence.
Easter and the upcoming Bank Holiday weekends are always popular for angling, and despite the unsettled weather forecast, there’s no better time to get outdoors and enjoy some of the great fishing spots in the North East, Cumbria and Lancashire.
The Easter enforcement activity will be supported by the Angling Trust’s Operation Clampdown – the annual blitz on illegal coarse fishing during the close season, which runs from 15 March to 15 June inclusive.
There are currently 464 Angling Trust Voluntary Bailiffs in England who are taking part in Operation Clampdown by keeping watch on their local rivers and reporting suspicious activity to the Environment Agency and police. There are 48 Angling Trust Volunteer Bailiffs in the North West.
Darren Bedworth, Fisheries Enforcement Technical Specialist at the Environment Agency for Cumbria & Lancashire, said: “The Environment Agency carries out enforcement work all year round. Our job is to protect fish stocks and improve fisheries, and anglers who fish legally rightly demand we take action to catch those who flout the law.
“Our enforcement officers, working together with the police and supported by Angling Trust Voluntary Bailiffs, will be targeting illegal fishing this Easter weekend and anyone caught can expect to face prosecution.
“Our work is intelligence-led, meaning we target known hotspots and act on reports of illegal fishing.”
During January alone the Environment Agency prosecuted 14 men in the North East for fishing without a rod licence, resulting in fines amounting to £3,749 and costs totalling £1,784.
Darren added: “This demonstrates just how seriously we take these offences. Whether it’s fishing for coarse fish during close season, using illegal nets and other equipment, or fishing without a licence, our officers will be looking for those flouting the law.
“We urge people to help us protect the health of our fisheries by reporting suspected illegal fishing to us.”
Anglers are reminded it is currently the close season for coarse fishing. This means fishing for coarse fish on rivers and streams is not permitted. This is done to help protect breeding fish, helping to safeguard stocks for the future. However, there are still plenty of places anglers can wet a line for coarse fish, including most still waters and canals.
You can check local fishing byelaws here: www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-fishing-byelaws
The rod licence is great value for money – a full annual licence costs just £30 with some short term and concessionary licences also available. Buy your rod licence online at www.gov.uk/fishing-licences
People are urged to report illegal fishing to the Environment Agency’s incident hotline on 0800 807060, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.