Net is cast wider to catch South Holland’s river fish thieves

River patrols are a feature of South Holland life - pictured in 2014 are Adrian Saunders, Rafal Sosnowski and Sgt Dave Robinson. SG13114-111TW
River patrols are a feature of South Holland life - pictured in 2014 are Adrian Saunders, Rafal Sosnowski and Sgt Dave Robinson. SG13114-111TW
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More volunteers are being sought to put a stop to illegal fish thefts from South Holland rivers.

The Angling Trust and Environment Agency have 21 volunteer bailiffs patrolling Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire with four of those based in Spalding and South Holland.

More are expected to join the Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS) following a fresh appeal for help in tackling the growing issue of fish theft, sometimes due to migrants who don’t know England’s laws – and sometimes organised removal of fish for sale on the black market.

Paul Thomas, regional enforcement manager for the Eastern Angling Trust, said: “It is widely accepted that in Lincolnshire there are issues and concerns amongst anglers surrounding migrant anglers illegally removing fish from the waterways to eat.

“On occasion this may be due to the migrant angler not being aware of the law in England regarding the need to purchase an Environment Agency rod licence and obtain permission to fish the water prior to fishing, but it is also possible that the migrant angler may not be aware of the laws surrounding the removal of freshwater fish, as it is perfectly natural for them to do so in their own country.”

Byelaws restrict the size and number of freshwater fish that can be legally removed, but if the controlling club for the water state that no fish are to be removed from their waters, then no fish can be legally removed.

The trust is engaged in the Building Bridges scheme whereby Polish and Lithuanian speaking staff try to educate migrant anglers on how to fish legally.

Mr Thomas said there is also growing concern surrounding migrant anglers who knowingly illegally remove fish for the pot and about people who are engaged in the organised removal of fish from the waterways, using gill nets and baited long-lines, for sale on the black market.

Anyone interested in volunteering can email karen.sarkar@anglingtrust.net – an induction day takes place in Grantham on May 6.

• What do you think? Email lynne.harrison@iliffepublishing.co.uk