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Poaching is licence payers’ No.1 priority

ANGLER’S MAIL readers have voted overwhelmingly that they want more of our rod licence fee spent by the Environment Agency on tackling illegal fish taking/poaching.

In an exclusive online poll at our website a massive 31 per cent of you voted they wanted the highest amount of rod licence fees spent tackling the increasing problem.

That echoes the views of angling’s governing body the Angling Trust who only last month revealed a seven point plan to tackle poaching after a spate of recent incidents.

That included three Bulgarians were fined a total of £726 for poaching on the River Wye by Hereford Magistrates Court.

Trust chairman Mike Heylin was pleased with the poll result as it shows anglers care about our nature waterways and backs up their imminent plans.

Mike said: ‘I think that justifies what we are trying to do. The idea of voluntary bailiffs was laughed at 18 months ago but I think everybody thinks the more feet and eyes out there the more chance we have of doing something to tackle this problem.

‘We’re working hard with the EA to set up a three-year pilot scheme, hopefully starting in April, with the culmination of creating special bailiffs like community support officers used by the police.

‘A lot of river anglers have never had their rod licence checked by an EA bailiff just because of the type of water they fish.

‘A lot of criminals who want to target fish will do it on Fridays and Saturdays as they know the Police are too busy in the high streets to offer serious support.

‘Anglers actually doing it for ourselves is something a lot of people support and we’ll know a lot better what’s happening out on our waterways, even better that some EA fisheries officers as we’re the ones always out on those venues,’ he added.

Our online poll was fully backed by river anglers as the second and third on the poll were also flowing water related.

Improving fish habitat and swims on rivers came in second with 15 per cent while stocking more fish into rivers was third with 13 per cent.

FULL VOTING FIGURES

Tackling illegal fish taking/poaching                            31%

Improving fish habitat and swims on rivers                  15%

Stocking more fish into rivers                                     13%

Tackling rod licence dodgers                                     11%

Stocking more fish into any free/cheap waters          10%

Improving fish habitat and swims on any free/cheap waters 8%

Advising fisheries/clubs on venue management         3%

Researching fish disease                                              3%

Tackling illegal stocking and imports                            3%

Boosting numbers of new anglers                            3%