Operation Leviathan – Fisheries Enforcement with the Angling Trust

Is your fishery under pressure from illegal angling? Is poaching rife and are people taking fish from the water? Is your club stretch being vandalized and litter being left indiscriminately? If so, there is hope. Introducing Operation Leviathan.

Prominent anglers Gareth Johns, Iain Barr and Medi Treharne showing their support for operation leviathan

Prominent anglers Gareth Jones, Iain Barr and Medi Treharne showing their support for Operation Leviathan at the BFFI show.

What is Operation Leviathan?

‘Operation Leviathan’ is the name of the multi-agency partnership including the Environment Agency (England), Natural Resources Wales, Police forces across the west of England and Wales, The National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU), Angling Trust and angling clubs to work together against fisheries crime, fish theft and illegal fishing. In the East of England, there is an identical project that goes under the name of ‘Operation Traverse’.

The main purpose of the operation is to increase confidence amongst anglers to report incidents of  illegal fishing to the EA or NRW on the national hotline 0800 807060 and/or the police as appropriate.

The lack of information coming into the authorities has been identified as a major weakness in dealing with widespread ‘poaching’ on rivers, lakes and canals across the country and consequently, the problem is not recognised in many areas.

This has led to anglers becoming frustrated when they see fish being illegally removed from the water, fixed lines being set to catch fish illegally and irresponsible or anti-social fishing taking place on their waters, making them feel unsafe.

All of these things led to the formation of the Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS) in England, managed by the Angling Trust to provide more ‘eyes and ears’ out on our waterways.  It’s a bit like ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ for fishing!

In England The VBS work closely with the EA and our volunteers are often invited to join them on patrols.

In Wales, the representative body for anglers is Angling Cymru, who do not have an equivalent VBS. Therefore, in Wales, anglers are solely dependant on the NRW to address issues directly without the support of a volunteer force. The Angling Trust are supportive of a Welsh VBS to work alongside the current organisation in England.

VBS is developing and in the South East of England there is currently a pilot project, in which carefully selected Voluntary Bailiffs are empowered to demand rod licences and deal with certain fisheries offences . This is called ‘Phase 2 VBS’ where volunteers are embedded in Environment Agency (EA) teams, with whom they work and directly support.  They are supervised by EA team leaders and are subject to the EA Codes of Conduct. This pilot is currently being evaluated by the EA pending their decision as to whether the initiative will be rolled-out nationally.

Interested in joining the VBS service? Find out more here.

The main message of Operation Leviathan is for all anglers across the UK to phone the emergency hotline number 0800 807060 to report illegal fishing incidents.

This gives you options to speak with the fisheries authorities covering different parts of the country.  It is crucial anglers report incidents and information about illegal fishing so that the EA (England), NRW (Wales), Loughs Agency (N. Ireland) etc.. can take the necessary action! Without this, the authorities won’t know there is a problem and no action will be taken.

A quick guide to the law

For information regarding Operation Leviathan and fisheries enforcement, please get in touch with Kevin Pearson. Mob. 07495 433620 Email. Kevin.Pearson@Anglingtrust.net

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