Who guards the fish… And anglers from the temptation to catch fish?

Kto strzeże ryb

Few people know that fish have their own private guard – uniformed and armed. This is a good thing, because as we know, children and fish have no voice, so knowing that someone is watching over their safety is optimistic. Probably of a different opinion are the fish in the Oder River, but about that in our next articles. In this one we will focus on the functioning of this important formation, which, if anyone doesn’t already know, has police powers.

The State Fisheries Service carries out its statutory tasks in controlling compliance with the Inland Fisheries Law throughout the country. And these tasks are quite numerous. Given the list of prohibitions and activities forbidden to fish, there is plenty to keep an eye on. The law points to at least a dozen prohibitions that should be observed and that every fishing card holder should know. As a reminder, we will list the most important ones.

Fishing is prohibited:

  • in protected areas, i.e., for example, in reserves or national parks, if no special fishing spots have been designated in them;
  • at a distance of less than 50 m from water damming structures and facilities;
  • nets, fishing rods or crossbows other than those specified in separate regulations;
  • by generating an electric field in water, poisonous and intoxicating agents or explosives;
  • crippling tools, with the exception of hook lines, hook bundles, the hook of a fishing rod and the harpoon of a crossbow;
  • more than two rods at the same time, and in the case of salmonids and grayling – more than one rod.

And perhaps the most important of the prohibitions: It is forbidden to catch fish of protected size and during the protection period. Without a thorough knowledge of the details of this prohibition, there is no reason to go out fishing.

The provisions of the Inland Fisheries Law and the standards of the Regulation on Fishing and the Conditions for the Raising, Breeding and Catching of Other Organisms Living in Water are very detailed, and knowledge of them is confirmed by passing the exam on conservation and fishing. This exam culminates in the obtaining of a fishing card. Where we have a document obtained by examination, authorizing the performance of any activity, we also have an institution to guard compliance with the powers of this document. The service was established in 1985. and is a unit of provincial administration. The National Fishery Guard, as it is referred to, operates in all 16 provinces and operates around the clock and on all days of the year, just like the police. Importantly, it is equipped with weapons and means of direct coercion. And this means that a fishing guard has the right to carry a short firearm, a signal weapon, handcuffs worn on the hands, hand-held incapacitating substance throwers, a service baton and objects designed to incapacitate persons by means of electricity.

Our editors asked all units of the State Fishery Service about the offenses most commonly committed against fish and other water-dwelling organisms. According to the information received, the main problem is fishing without a permit and fishing without a fishing card. Offenses of angling and catching fish of protected size, or fishing within 50 meters of hydraulic structures and facilities, were also recorded.

We also asked a question about the number of fines issued and the staff serving as guards. We obtained information from all 16 units. In the table below, we present the information obtained from the various provincial fishery guards.


Number of field inspections

Number of field inspections ending in fines

Number of employees hired in 2022.

PSR in Suwałki

1 182



PSR in Olsztyn

1 948

2 590


PSR in Gdansk




PSR in Szczecin



12 – 13

PSR in Gorzow




PSR in Poznań

16 870



PSR in Bydgoszcz

1 360



PSR in Warsaw

23 639

1 646


PSR in Lublin

1 160



PSR in Kielce




PSR in Lodz




PSR in Wroclaw

1 230

1 566


PSR in Opole




PSR in Katowice




PSR in Krakow




PSR in Rzeszów




total number for 2022

53 276

11 032


A total of 2022 will be employed in the structures of the State Fishery Guards. There were 281 guards who performed a total of more than 53,000. Controls. This means that an average of 146 inspections are performed daily. More than 11,000 were fined for violations against the Inland Fisheries Law. individuals.

In addition to fines, which range from PLN 100 upwards, the Fishery Guard also has the ability to confiscate illegally caught fish and equipment used for illegal fishing. For specific violations, guards may hand off offenders to the police or refer the case to court. The court, in imposing the penalty, may also indicate the forfeiture of property, that is, in this case, fishing gear and other items that were used or intended for the commission of the crime, as well as items derived directly or indirectly from the crime. These are far more severe penalties than the fine itself.

The State Fishery Guard may cooperate with the Social Fishery Guard, and is appointed by the district council. The Community Warden has inspection powers similar to those of the State Warden, i.e. he can inspect fishing authorization documents, check the weights and species of fish caught, or seize fish and fishing items from unauthorized anglers. In the event of a suspected misdemeanor or felony, the Community Warden calls the Police and/or the State Fisheries Service.

Local newspapers write about the Guard’s work, and the information is often sensationalist and confirms that this job is not a peaceful one.

On 31.03.2020. on lublin112.pl[1] wrote:

(…) The officers prepared an ambush. The wait of several hours had its effect. On Tuesday, guards from the State Fishery Service from Lublin, together with an officer from the criminal division for combating economic crime of the District Police Station in Opole Lubelskie, carried out another action in the so-called “economic crime”. Lublin’s poaching basin. In the early morning hours, they hid nearby and waited. They spent several hours like this, but the operations were successful….

Poaching is a problem throughout Poland. The activities of the State Fishery Police are aimed at uncovering offenses and crimes against inland fishing regulations. While they won’t prevent all illegal fishing, but the awareness of the penalty and the fact that guards work around the clock, on holidays and weekends, and can lurk in the reeds at night, may give less determined poachers food for thought.

Thus, in order not to expose yourself to poaching charges and to fish legally, you must pass an exam and obtain a fishing license. Then join a fishing user and pay annual dues or purchase a one-day or multi-day license. It is also always necessary to observe prohibitions, including protection periods and dimensions. It’s actually not much to enjoy peace, quiet and taaak fish.

[1] https://www.lublin112.pl/kolejna-akcja-strazy-rybackiej-na-terenie-zaglebia-klusowniczego-w-zasadzke-wpadlo-dwoch-braci-zdjecia acquisition date 18.02.2023.

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