Night patrols seek out UK shellfish poaching

The Black Fish has launched a series of civilian night patrols around the English coast to track shellfish poaching. Shellfish poaching is a multi-million dollar black market trade, threatening shellfish populations, exploiting migrant workers and fuelling organised crime.

Citizen Inspectors have been on watch since early this week, at bays and estuaries where shellfish poaching has traditionally occurred. Poaching activities have already been observed and documented at three separate locations. The patrols will run until the end of the month and collected evidence will be handed over to prosecutors.

Samantha Hook, who runs the Citizen Inspector Network: “The tidal areas where the poaching occurs are very difficult to monitor. Our Citizen Inspectors add monitoring capacity and collect much needed evidence. The black market in shellfish fuels organised crime in this country while exploiting workers and endangering consumer health. The people involved simply need to be identified and made to face justice. We are here to help realise that.“

While most would not immediately associate cockles, scallops and sea snails with illegal fishing and organised crime syndicates, in reality the illegal trade in shellfish is a multi-million dollar black market industry, providing organised crime groups with a lucrative income stream while threatening species, coastal biodiversity and human health. Learn more about the issue and support our work at

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