North Yorkshire Police have joined a new initiative to tackle illegal fishing and fish theft.
The national campaign, Operation Traverse, aims to encourage anglers and the wider angling community to report suspicious activity to the Environment Agency or police to increase information and intelligence about those fishing illegally or suspected of being involved in offences.
Operation Traverse is co-ordinated by the Angling Trust and sees police and partners join forces to focus on illegal fishing, rod licence compliance and associated crime.
The launch of Operation Traverse in North Yorkshire follows the recent launch of the Voluntary Bailiff Service, a partnership between the Angling Trust and Environment Agency. The project is funded by the Environment Agency through income from rod licence sales. Volunteers have been trained to be the eyes and ears of the angling community, reporting and recording information and evidence to a high standard.
Giles Evans, the Angling Trust’s North East Regional Enforcement Manager, said: “This multi-agency operation continues to target offenders fishing illegally and committing other crimes.
“It’s hoped that this operation combined with the work of the Volunteer Bailiffs will increase the information and intelligence regarding illegal fishing and the linked crimes, to further help the Environment Agency and partners with their continued success in the region.”
Inspector Jon Grainge, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “The illegal taking of fish can have a serious impact on stocks, and we will take action to protect our fisheries.
“Anyone involved in this criminality may also be involved in anti-social behaviour and other theft and wildlife crimes in rural locations, so it’s really important that people continue to report suspicious activity to police or the Environment Agency.”
The Rural Taskforce will be targeting known hot spots across North Yorkshire in the coming months, including the River Esk.
A spokesperson for the Yorkshire Esk Rivers Trust, an organisation whose aims are to both protect and improve the fishery on the River Esk, emphasised the importance and need for Operation Traverse, saying: “In the summer of 2015, some 16 nets were removed from the tideway between Ruswarp and Whitby Harbour.
“This illegal activity is having a devastating impact on salmon and sea trout stocks entering the river and being able to reach their spawning grounds, to the extent of now posing a real threat to their future. Members of the public should be vigilant at all times and to report any signs of suspicious activity to either the police or the Environment Agency.”
The Environment Agency’s Dave Edwardson, Enforcement Team Leader in the North East, said: “Much of our work is intelligence-led, which means we carry out our enforcement patrols to known hot spots and areas where illegal fishing is reported to us.
“It’s vital we receive information from the public so we know we are targeting the right people and places. Working together with our partners means we can make a co-ordinated effort into gathering information and taking enforcement action.
“We all take illegal fishing seriously and I’d urge people to help us protect our fisheries by reporting suspicious activity.”
Anyone with information about illegal fishing is asked to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, or the Environment Agency’s 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60. In an emergency, always dial 999.
27 May 2016