The angling community has reported several incidents involving fish being taken illegally from commercial or private lakes.
Anglers must pay to use fisheries and fish cannot be taken from a lake that is private property or which has fishing rights without permission. Those fishing at rivers and other bodies of water overseen by the Environment Agency must be licensed to do so.
Bailiffs will also work alongside North Yorkshire Police officers to deter offenders and provide a visible presence.
The Pickering Fishery Association, whose 120 members have rights to fish at Pickering Beck as well as several privately owned streams and ponds, has been a victim of the crime and its committee has obtained video footage of suspects.
PC Mark Atkinson of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force said: “The illegal taking of fish is not at all a victimless crime. It can have a serious impact on fisheries and fish stocks, and we often find that those responsible for poaching are also involved in other crime and anti-social behaviour.
“After an increase in suspected poaching in the Ryedale area in particular, we’re increasing our own patrols and working closely with water bailiffs and the Angling Trust. I’d also urge people to be vigilant for any suspicious activity around lakes and rivers, and report this to police or the relevant authorities.”
Angling Trust regional enforcement officer Kevin Woodcock added: “As the regional enforcement support manager for the Angling Trust, it is good to be part of a multi-agency approach to tackling rural crime issues. The theft of livestock shouldn’t be looked at as a case of ‘it’s only a fish’ – it has a knock-on effect on people’s jobs, businesses and the families of those connected to farming and the rural community in general.”
Pickering Fishery Association honorary secretary Martin Smith said: “We thank the police and the Angling Trust for their support for the club and the efforts to catch the poachers. Their professional advice has guided us in taking the necessary steps and we now have the first video images of poachers. Poaching is a crime, it’s trespassing and theft.”