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
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
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.