Operation Clampdown 9 to target illegal close season fishing

The Angling Trust’s Fisheries Enforcement Support Service and Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS) will be delivering Operation Clampdown 9 in partnership with the Environment Agency’s fisheries officers during the annual coarse fishing close season on rivers (March 15 – June 15 inclusive).

The VBS will be reporting suspicious activity and incidents to the Environment Agency and police. Anyone convicted of illegally fishing during the close season faces a significant fine and possible confiscation of equipment.

Kevin Austin, Deputy Director for Agriculture, Fisheries and the Natural Environment at the Environment Agency, said: “The close season aims to protect fish while they are spawning which improves the health and resilience of our fish. Alongside our fisheries improvement work, the close season gives our fish populations the chance to recover.

“The 2020 close season was one of our busiest as we saw new anglers enter the sport. We always encourage new anglers to give fishing a go and we are aware not all will know of fishing rules like the closed season. If you know a new angler, please remind them of the closed season dates.”

Nino Brancato, Angling Trust National Enforcement Support Manager, said: “The close season will provide a great opportunity for the Fisheries Enforcement Support Service and the Voluntary Bailiff Service to work closely with the Environment Agency and police during Operation Clampdown 9.

“Our dedicated volunteer bailiffs will be out on patrol and taking part in coordinated joint activity around the nation’s waterways in an eyes and ears capacity – gathering intelligence and reporting incidents in support of our enforcement partners as part of our multi-agency approach to protecting fish and fisheries.”

Now in its ninth year, Operation Clampdown is a national multi-agency initiative targeting illegal fishing during the coarse fishing close season on rivers, streams, drains and specified canals as well as stillwaters that are sites of special scientific interest (SSSI).

The Voluntary Bailiff Service is part of the Angling Trust’s Fisheries Enforcement Support Service, which is funded from fishing licence income as part of the National Angling Strategic Services contract with the Environment Agency.

There are still plenty of opportunities for anglers to get out on the banks to fish for coarse fish while rivers, streams, drains and other sites the close season applies to are off-limits. The vast majority of stillwaters and canals in England remain open for fishing. Anglers should ensure they have the necessary permission to fish and a valid Environment Agency fishing licence.

check your local byelaws for the list of sites included within the statutory close season. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-fishing-byelaws

All full licences now run for 365 days from purchase, make sure you know when yours expires. Visit https://www.gov.uk/fishing-licences/buy-a-fishing-licence to buy one online.

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.

Further information about the Fisheries Enforcement Support Service and the Voluntary Bailiff Service

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