Cumbria Constabulary has become the latest police force to sign up to Operation LEVIATHAN – the multi-agency initiative tackling fish theft and illegal fishing.
The commitment creates an important link with other police forces in the North West and provides a huge boost to the fight against fish poaching in the county, which has led to low stocks of some fish species at some venues.
Angling Trust National Enforcement Manager, Dilip Sarkar MBE said: “This is an extremely positive step forward in our campaign addressing fisheries related crime, raising awareness of the actual implications of illegal fishing and fish theft, which are frequently connected with wider patterns of offending.
“This should reassure the angling community that the multi-agency response is increasingly gathering in momentum, and we look forward to working in partnership with and in support of the Cumbria Constabulary.”
Cumbria Constabulary formally joined Operation LEVIATHAN following a training and induction day at Lancashire Police headquarters in Preston. This was attended by members of Cumbria and Lancashire Constabulary Wildlife Crime Officers, the Angling Trust Fisheries Enforcement Support Service, Environment Agency Fisheries Enforcement Officers and the Angling Trust Voluntary Bailiff Service.
Presentations were made by the Angling Trust, Lancashire Constabulary and Environment Agency and topics included issues with migrant anglers not understanding UK fisheries law, migrant angler education, methods of illegal fishing, how to spot incidents, how to effectively deliver the operation through joint patrols with other member organisations, how this offending often fits within a much wider framework of criminality and the Voluntary Bailiff Service.
Darren Bedworth, Environment Agency Enforcement Technical Specialist, said: “We are pleased to welcome Cumbria Constabulary as a partner to Operation LEVIATHAN. This will build on existing work we carry out with the force across the beautiful Cumbria countryside to tackle illegal fishing.”
PC Helen Branthwaite, the wildlife crime coordinator for Cumbria Constabulary, said: “This is an excellent example of how Cumbria Constabulary can team up with other organisations to target some of the more specialised areas of criminality which affect our force area and its communities.
“We very much look forward to working alongside the Angling Trust Voluntary Bailiffs and Environment Agency Fisheries Enforcement Officers on planned operations across the region to identify and deal with any offences revealed in a robust and consistent manner.”
David Lees, Angling Trust’s North West England Regional Enforcement Manager, said: “Tackling fish theft and illegal fishing is vital if we are to protect fisheries and clamp down on rod licence cheats. It is vitally important that anglers report any incidents.
“I am looking to recruit more volunteer bailiffs in the Cumbria region and anyone interested in applying should contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Anyone that suspects illegal fishing is taking place should ring the Environment Agency’s 24-hour Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60, or the police on 101. In an emergency always dial 999.