Water bailiff

Water bailiff

A water bailiff is a law enforcement officer responsible for the policing of bodies of water, such as a river, lake or coast. The position has existed in many jurisdictions throughout history.


In Scotland, under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003, water bailiffs are appointed by District Salmon Fishery Boards or the Scottish Government, and are responsible for enforcing laws relating to salmon and trout. Although not police officers, they have certain statutory powers of entry, search, seizure and arrest under the Act. It is an offence to obstruct them.

Water bailiffs may enter and remain upon land in the vicinity of any river or of the sea coast at any time for the purpose of preventing a breach of the provisions of the Act, or detecting persons guilty of any breach of those provisions. If they wish to enter land not in the vicinity of the sea or coast, they must obtain a warrant from a sheriff or justice of the peace.

Water bailiffs may also:

  • examine any dam, fixed engine or obstruction, or any lade, and for that purpose enter on any land;
  • stop and search any boat which is used in fishing or any boat which there is reasonable cause to suspect of containing salmon or trout;
  • search and examine nets or other instruments used in fishing or any basket, pocket or other receptacle capable of carrying fish, which there is reasonable cause to suspect of containing salmon or trout illegally taken;
  • seize any fish, instrument or article, boat or vehicle liable to be forfeited in pursuance of this Act.

They may search stationary vehicles if they believe that an offence against any of the provisions of the Act has been committed and that evidence of the commission of the offence is to be found in a vehicle on private land adjoining any water or in a stationary vehicle on a public road adjoining such water or land.

They may "seize and detain" any person found committing an offence against the Act and deliver such person to a constable.

Water bailiffs cannot enforce protection orders made under Section 48 of the Act.

England and Wales

In England and Wales water bailiffs have the same functions as their counterparts in Scotland. They are appointed by the Environment Agency.

Isle of Man

The Water Bailiff was a historical officer in the Isle of Man responsible for enforcing fishing law.

See also


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