Following anecdotal evidence of a rise in the number of anglers illegally taking fish from stillwater venues in England and Wales, The Professional Coarse Fisheries Association is to launch the country’s first major survey of commercial coarse fishery owners to try to establish the extent of the problem.


Being carried out in association with angling website and in consultation with the Environment Agency, the survey will for the first time seek to gauge how widespread is the problem of fish thefts in England and Wales and will try to pinpoint any reasons behind them.


The decision to stage the survey was taken after several members raised concern about apparently increasing number of fish thefts from their waters at a recent meeting of the PCFA, which represents more than 50 commercial coarse fisheries in England and Wales.


It was decided to carry out the survey in association with because the angling website promotes information and photographs on nearly 100 commercial coarse fisheries and will give the survey a broader range of responses.


Whilst fishery owners seemed to be particularly concerned about ‘organised’ thefts of bigger fish – predominantly carp – which may be being stolen for re-sale to other fisheries, they also raised concerns about the theft of koi carp and other ornamental species for garden ponds and an apparent increase in the number of anglers taking fish for the table.


Leading Fishery Management Consultant Dr Bruno Broughton, Fishery Officer with the PCFA, said: “Fishery owners are not only concerned about the financial implications of losing valuable fish, particularly specimen carp, and the high cost of replacing them, but  are also worried that if anglers are illegally introducing fish into their waters without their knowledge there is a possibility they could  be unwittingly spreading the KHV virus, which could have potentially devastating impact on their livelihoods.


“Although we hear intermittent reports from individual fishery owners of thefts from their waters and third-party reports of alleged thefts from other waters, we want to try to get an accurate feel for just how widespread the problem is. Only then can we ask the Environment Agency and other authorities to take action against the perpetrators and to raise angler awareness over the problem and the potential danger to UK fish stocks associated with taking fish without authorisation.”