Former cop aims to reel in illegal fishing


A crackdown on fish poachers and illegal fishing in the Boston area is getting the help of a top cop.

Ex-detective Paul Thomas, who has been commended for tackling city centre street crime has been recruited by the Angling Trust as regional enforcement manager (East of England).

His role includes advising anglers on the law and raising awareness of criminal offences such as poaching and fish theft.

Mr Thomas, 50, said that in Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire there were particular issues surrounding migrant anglers ‘illegally removing fish from the waterways to eat’.

He said: “This may be due to the migrant angler not being aware of the law in England regarding the need to purchase an Environment Agency rod licence and obtain permission to fish the water prior to fishing.

“It is also possible that they may not be aware of the laws surrounding the removal of freshwater fish, as it is perfectly natural for them to do so in their own country.”

“There are byelaws in place that restrict the size and quantity of freshwater fish that can be legally removed but if the controlling club for the water in question state that no fish are to be removed from their waters, then no fish can be legally removed.”

He said the Angling Trust was part of the Building Bridges scheme which includes Polish and Lithuanian speaking staff to educate, ‘rather than alienate’, migrant anglers.

Mr Thomas said there was also growing concern over the organised removal of fish from lakes and rivers ‘on an almost commercial scale’ and sale on to the black market.

In 2014, Operation Traverse was launched by the Angling Trust, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire Police, the Environment Agency, and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science to target illegal fishing and fish theft in the two counties.

Anyone who witnesses illegal angling practices, is asked to call police on 101 or 999 if urgent, and report the offence to the police quoting Operation Traverse or anonymously on Crimestoppers 0800 111555. Offences can also be reported to the Environment Agency hotline 0800 807060.