The NFA has been working with the Police, the Environment Agency and angling clubs to provide essential guidance for all day ticket waters regarding fish theft prosecution. The advice has been created following enquiries from angling clubs who have had difficulties in prosecuting anglers suspected of the illegal removal of fish.
Currently it is possible for an angler to buy a day ticket and use the loop holes in the terminology to escape prosecution if they have been caught taking fish.
For example on one day ticket that was purchased it was stated, “All fish should be returned to the water”. However, it does not state that fish should not be taken away or what a person should do if the fish are landed dead or die.
For angling clubs to take action under the theft act then they must be able to clearly demonstrate dishonesty.
Therefore the NFA would advise all angling clubs to amend their day tickets and match booklets to say.
1 All fish to be returned alive to the water
2 Fish deaths must be reported
3 No fish should be taken away alive or dead without the express permission of the owner, to do so may give rise to a civil prosecution or criminal prosecution under Schedule 1 section 2 of the Theft Act
It is also advised that angling clubs display a contact number to give people the opportunity to report a fish death. In these circumstances, if anyone had been found with dead fish, you could easily prove that they were acting dishonestly.
Ashley Brown, Secretary of Kings Lynn Angling Association commented that, “The NFA provided us with a very prompt service and we were really impressed with the information which was sent back to us following our enquiry, which is probably a common problem faced by angling clubs.”
Southport & Dist. A.A representative, Bill Hurst said, “We caught two anglers taking fish and thought we had got them bang to rights because our day tickets stated ‘No fish to be taken away’. Despite getting the police involved we found out that there was nothing we could do. This advice will help us close the net on fish thieves”
This advice was created in partnership with Herbert Mallam and Gower, the NFA solicitors, who provide legal advice for all NFA affiliated riparian clubs once per annum.
The NFA are continually working with anglers and angling clubs to provide the best advice possible on a range of issues including fish theft, environment and club development. Visit the NFA website for more details on www.nfadirect.com/clubresources.