Members of the Angling Trust’s Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS) have continued to help protect fish and fisheries during the Covid-19 crisis, carrying out 976 patrols and reporting 37 incidents of illegal fishing and wider crime to the Environment Agency and Police.
During the second national lockdown from 5th November to the 2nd of December, 144 Volunteer Bailiffs have been able to patrol their local waterways. Thanks to the success of the Angling Trust’s When We Fish Again campaign, fishing was one of the first sporting activities to resume after the first lockdown and allowed to continue during the recent lockdown, although competitions were banned.
The Trust’s Fisheries Enforcement Support Service (FESS) received very few notifications of Covid-19 breaches involving organised matches and most were dealt with by the Police by way of a warning. Comprehensive advice of what was allowed was widely circulated to Angling Trust members, the wider angling community and the Police in advance of the lockdown which avoided many misunderstandings.
Nino Brancato, National Enforcement Support Manager, said:
“We are really grateful that fishing was allowed to continue during Lockdown 2 which is a testament to the work put in by the Angling Trust’s When We Fish Again campaign. Anglers once again demonstrated that they could continue with the sport they love in a safe and sensible manner, and the Voluntary Bailiff Service continued to patrol, helping protect our fish and fisheries by reporting to the Environment Agency and Police any incidents they came across.”
Heidi Stone, Environment Agency Fisheries Manager, said:
“The vast majority of people fish with a licence but there will always be some who try to fish illegally. That is why volunteers from the Voluntary Bailiff Service continue to be an invaluable source of information for the Environment Agency, helping us to direct our patrols where they are most needed.
“There has been a huge increase in the number of people taking up or returning to fishing this year since the first lockdown ended. By the end of October, we had sold over one million licences – generating more revenue to invest in fisheries and our angling community.”
Incidents of illegal fishing should be reported to the Environment Agency incident number 0800 80 70 60 or the Police on 101 to report a crime that does not require an emergency response or 999 to report a crime in progress.
The Voluntary Bailiff Service is part of the Angling Trust’s Fisheries Enforcement Support Service, which is funded from freshwater fishing licence money as part of the National Angling Strategic Services contract with the Environment Agency.