New moves to tackle the problem of fish theft in South East

Gary Lawless SUS-150611-083351001
Gary Lawless SUS-150611-083351001

The Angling Trust has stepped up its fight against fisheries crime.

Newly appointed Regional Enforcement Managers will advise anglers on the law, raise awareness that poaching and fish theft are criminal offences, and work with the police, Environment Agency and other partners on fisheries-related issues.

Covering the whole of England, the Angling Trust’s new Fisheries Enforcement Support Service is in partnership with and funded by Environment Agency rod licence money.

In addition, they will also be supporting staff on the ‘Building Bridges’ project – aimed at encouraging migrant anglers to fish legally – and on the roll-out of the Voluntary Bailiff Service across the country.

The new Regional Enforcement Managers include the former head of the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

The Angling Trust’s Head of Enforcement Dilip Sarkar MBE said: “This is a massive step forward in the fight to protect fish and fisheries, and - from a non-government organisation - is an unprecedented initiative.

“The experience of the new recruits across a wide range of specialisms will give angling a distinct advantage and spells bad news for offenders. I am very much looking forward to working with my team for the benefit of legitimate anglers.”

To aid them in their fight, the Angling Trust has employed six former police officers. The man charged with looking after waterways in the South East is former Metropolitan Police officer Gary Lawless, aged 53, who said: “I began fishing at an early age, cycling for hours to fish in ponds, lakes and canals in all weathers.

“That passion continued throughout my time in the police force and as a keen angler this is an exciting opportunity to work with and for anglers, using my policing experience to help protect fish and fisheries in support of the police and Environment Agency.”

Sarah Chare, Deputy Director of Fisheries, Biodiversity and Geomorphology at the Environment Agency, said: “The Environment Agency is delighted to be working in partnership with the Angling Trust on angling crime. The appointment of the six experienced Regional Enforcement Managers is the next step towards the Team England-wide network of ‘eyes and ears’ on the riverbank.

“Volunteers will be trained in how to spot and report suspicious or illegal activity in their locality, allowing our Fisheries officers to deploy intelligence led patrols where they are most needed.

“The link that the REMs provide to county police forces is also very welcome, enabling joint operations with partners and raising awareness of fish poaching offences with beat officers.”

The Angling Trust is the national representative and governing body for angling in England. It is united in a collaborative relationship with Fish Legal.

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