Operation TRAVERSE - targeting illegal fishing and fish theft in Fenland
On 12 November 2014, the Assistant Chief Constable of Lincolnshire, Mr Peter Davies, opened Operation TRAVERSE - targeting illegal fishing and fish theft in Fenland - a partnership approach involving Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire Police, the Angling Trust, Environment Agency and Cefas Fish Health Inspectorate.
Mr Davies said:
'We have listened to our communities and recognise that poaching and fish theft is of increasing concern - and also now appreciate both the wider criminal implications and negative impact on the environment and livelihoods. This is an important operation which we are pleased to work with all our partners to deliver'.
Police and Environment Agency operational and call-taking staff have been briefed accordingly - and both anglers and the general public are urged to report incidents in progress, anything suspicious or other information to either the police on 101 or Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 - citing Operation TRAVERSE.
The launch of Operation TRAVERSE also featured a visit and briefing by Polish PSR government fisheries enforcement officers. Last year, key Angling Trust enforcement staff visited Holland, researching how fisheries enforcement is approached there; earlier this year, a trip to Poland forged links with the PSR.
Angling Trust 'Building Bridges' Project Manager Rado Papiewski, said:
'We were extremely impressed with the professional and effective approach to fisheries enforcement in Poland. For that reason we felt that the enforcement agencies in England would benefit from learning more first-hand from the PSR - and sharing Best Practice. Kommandant Macieo Bialy and Rafal Sosnowski of the PSR, therefore, visited England at the Angling Trust's invitation, briefing police officers and Environment Agency staff regarding their approach to this shared problem. Everyone from the British authorities who met the PSR officers was impressed and keen to see this new approach, learning from other countries, was maintained and developed. We are now liaising with the Lithuanian authorities. This more holistic approach is undoubtedly the way forward to achieve a greater understanding between all involved'.
Operation TRAVERSE has been brought to the attention of Daniel Kawczynski MP, Envoy to the Prime Minister on Polish and Eastern European Diaspora in the UK:
'I appreciate and understand the concern amongst anglers regarding poaching and fish theft, and applaud the Angling Trust for leading on resolving these issues through a responsible partnership approach. I am particularly impressed that this work includes the long-term strategy of educating and integrating migrant anglers through the all-important "Building Bridges" project. This is crucial, because cultural differences concerning taking fish, which are causing problems in some areas of the country, must be addressed not only through direct enforcement, where necessary, but also through education, to help ensure these problems do not occur in the first place. Migrant anglers, however, have also positively contributed to the sport and have joined the Voluntary Bailiff Service - so we must understand that we are dealing with a minority; not all migrant anglers from Eastern Europe break our laws - and it is important to remember that. It is very pleasing to see how the innovative Operation TRAVERSE contributes to the bigger picture of Rural & Wildlife Crime, which is of concern to many people - and is a great example of cooperation, intelligence-sharing and partnership working. This is a vital opportunity to raise awareness of poaching and fish theft, and positively engage with migrant anglers; I wholeheartedly commend this proactive approach and thank the Polish authorities for their cooperation and assistance'.
Angling Trust National Enforcement Manager Dilip Sarkar MBE said:
'To resolve poaching and fish theft we need to raise awareness and properly locate the issue within the wider framework of Rural, Wildlife and Organised crime. The only way forward is to work in partnership and share intelligence on an international basis, and work on direct enforcement action alongside long-term prevention. We are, therefore, delighted with the support provided by Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire Police, and look forward to working with all our partners. We are especially pleased, of course, to have the support of Mr Kawczynski in pushing this issue higher up the list of political priorities. What we need now is for anglers and the general public to make that call'.