The kit will be used during patrols in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
The thermal camera detects heat signature which will help staff during patrols when visibility is limited due to the lack of light. Illegal fishing activity often takes place early in the morning or late in the evening conditions that make detecting it more difficult. However, with this new kit there will be no place to hide.
Using the same surveillance powers as the police, the team also have the ability to record and retain video footage to use as evidence.
So far the camera has been used for late night patrol along the Well Creek, Middle Level Main Drain and Twenty Foot Drain. These areas were patrolled as a response to anglers reporting poaching to our incident hotline number. Intelligence led enforcement helps the Environment Agency know where to target and be more effective with resource.
Although on these occasions we didn’t apprehend any suspects or locate anything illegal, these late night and early morning patrols will continue. Hopefully this action will disrupt and deter people from committing any further illegal activity.
Chris Middleton, fisheries enforcement officer for the Great Ouse and Fenland catchment, said:
With the winter months approaching it is great to have these cameras to help us catch offenders in the dark.
The kit can detect the heat signature so a person trying to set an illegal trap, or acting suspiciously will be easily noticeable using these cameras.
If you witness illegal fishing or find a trap/net please call our incident hotline number 0800 807060.
This work wouldn’t be possible without the income from fishing licences, buy yours here: https://www.gov.uk/fishing-licences