History

At the first AGM in 2001 Ian Chillcott asked for volunteers from the membership to create a steering committee as things were developing so quickly on both the membership and information fronts.

In September of 2001 the first committee meeting took place with ten volunteers who had offered their support. In addition to the committee, representatives from CEFAS and the Environment Agency attended.

It was a bold move to invite these people at such an early stage of ECHO's formation and especially to the first full committee meeting. However bold a step it successfully spawned an invaluable working relationship with both Governmental organisations. Both found the passion driving ECHO to do something about the importation of fish into the UK overwhelming.

For the first year individual ECHO membership was via proposal from an existing member only. In it's formative stages as an organisation ECHO would have found rapid expansion of membership difficult to cope with. Secondly, it was felt that some undesirable individuals would find great gratification in joining and then ridiculing the organisation with their actions. Everyone on the committee felt that it was essential to build an effective infrastructure within ECHO before membership expansion and working towards our objectives could be pursued properly.

Much of ECHO's first year was spent creating the right relationships with the organisations that could help ECHO to achieve its aims and objectives. These included CEFAS, the Environment Agency and the Specialist Anglers Association (SAA). ECHO's slogan "Education not Condemnation" was also coined to help anglers understand what ECHO was fundamentally about. Highlighting the threats to our native stocks via the angling Press was another of ECHO's biggest successes in the first year. The subject of illegal imports had never seen so much coverage in the angling world prior to the organisation being formed.

As ECHO entered its second year things had progressed within the organisation dramatically and it was felt that the membership could now be opened to all interested people. In addition Corporate sponsors were allowed to join.

The first ECHOES newsletter was completed and proved to be a huge hit with the members. It included articles from the captors of the UK's two largest carp at the time, Gary Bayes and Chris Pearson, plus other notable authors.

The second AGM at Sparsholt was a huge success and went into the history books. As one member put it: "The night was probably the most awesome set of slide shows ever seen and the event itself was second to none!".

The opening of the membership was publicised and members began to join steadily and at a manageable rate.

Throughout its time ECHO has been continually collecting information about illegal fish movements and passing these details on to CEFAS and the EA.

In late September 2002 ECHO received credible information about the potential theft of a large number of big carp from Chantecoq in France. With the quick work of CEFAS and the French authorities some 40 plus carp to 45 lb were found to be sacked up and awaiting transportation to the UK at the famous venue. Thankfully, the authorities were able to release these fish back into their natural and rightful environment. To date many other pieces of information have been passed onto the authorities, which are helping build valuable evidence against carp smuggling offenders.

In 2002 ECHO also met with tackle giants Leeda Ltd. As a result of this ECHO gratefully received a full page spread in 100,000 copies of the 'Ultimate Tackle Directory' distributed through shops nationwide. Many other publications have now agreed to give regular space to the organisation to spread ECHO's message even further.

In January 2003 the rapid expansion in ECHO's workload meant the existing committee structure could not easily cope. So it was a number of new volunteers were recruited into the steering committee and each individual given specific areas of responsibility. At present the committee consists of 18 members who work on a voluntary basis.

Since April 2002 ECHO has attended a number of the angling shows around the country. Chilly also did a number of slide shows regarding ECHO through the winter of 2001/02.

The first 'A Nite with ECHO' event was held in Hampshire late in 2002, an open door event where anyone could attend and find out more about us. It was a huge success and more similar social events are planned for the near future all around the country.

Interest and membership from European anglers had begun to grow so, in what was a logical move, ECHO launched branches in Holland and Belgium in early 2003. These branches are known, collectively, as the European Carp Protection Organisation (ECPO).

With direct liaison between ECPO anglers on the continent and ECHO it is hoped that more information will be available regarding theft and movement of fish within Europe and into the UK. There are many other potential benefits by taking ECHO into Europe but these are covered elsewhere on the site. Again many of the European carp magazines have offered space to ECHO/ECPO.

ECHO and ECPO have, in 2003, made contact with many of the carp organisations throughout Europe and are planning to work closely with them to pursue our common aims with regards the stamping out of carp theft on the continent.

Currently ECHO currently boasts over 1,400 individual members plus some 30 corporate sponsors in the UK as we approach renewal dates for membership. ECPO membership already stands at some 100 members between Holland and Belgium.