Volunteers unite in crackdown on illegal angling

The Angling Trust’s fight against illegal fishing has been boosted by the recruitment of an additional 150 anglers to the Voluntary Bailiff Scheme (VBS), taking the overall number to 474.

The VBS is funded from rod-licence money and began as a pilot project in the South East in 2012 following a formal partnership between the Environment Agency and the Trust. It was rolled out across the country 12 months ago and now has 115 volunteers in the South East, 58 in South West, 51 in North West, 80 in North East, 90 in the Midlands and 80 in the East.

Dilip Sarkar MBE, the Trust’s National Enforcement Manager, said: “We have come a very long way since the pilot project was launched and now have a sound foundation to take this further, increase engagement and provide more practical training. With nearly 500 volunteer bailiffs, their presence on riverbanks and lakes will make a difference, both in reporting suspicious activity and deterring people from committing an offence.”

Graeme Storey, the Environment Agency’s national fisheries manager, said: “The vast majority of anglers do the right thing and buy a fishing licence. However, there are some people that try to evade buying a licence. Last year, enforcement officers checked more than 53,000 licences and prosecuted over 2300 anglers. Our VBS carry out vital work and now having 474 VBS officers on the ground will create even greater deterrence.”

An Environment Agency fisheries-enforcement officer patrolling with West Mercia Police and a volunteer bailiff
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