North Yorkshire Police have joined a new initiative to tackle illegal fishing and fish theft at known hotspots, including the River Esk.
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.
Its launch 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.”
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.”
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.”
Anyone with information about illegal fishing can call North Yorkshire Police on 101, or the Environment Agency’s 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60. In an emergency, dial 999.