Easter crackdown on illegal fishing

13 April 2017

Environment Agency officers will be on patrol this weekend in an Easter crackdown on illegal angling.

They’ll be out in force patrolling waters throughout the North East to make sure anglers are fishing in the right place, with the right tackle, and with a valid licence.

Easter and the upcoming Bank Holiday weekends are always popular for angling, and despite the unsettled weather forecast, there’s no better time to get out there and enjoy some of the great fishing spots in the North East.

Kevin Summerson, Fisheries Enforcement Technical Specialist the Environment Agency, said: “The Environment Agency carries out enforcement work all year round. Our job is to protect fish stocks and improve fisheries and anglers who fish legally, rightly demand that we take action to catch offenders.

“Our enforcement officers, supported by Angling Trust voluntary bailiffs and our partners at the police, will be targeting illegal fishing this Easter weekend and anyone caught can expect to face prosecution.

“Our work is intelligence-led, meaning we target known hot-spots and act on reports of illegal fishing.”

Partnership is key to tackling illegal fishing and just this week, Kevin joined Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger, Cleveland Police, Northumbrian Water and the Angling Trust to carry out a joint operation at Scaling Dam as part of Operation Traverse.

And just last month enforcement activity resulted in three County Durham men receiving court costs and fines totalling almost £1,500 after being caught fishing without a licence.

Craig Peacock, 31, from Wynyard, Chester Le Street, Mark Richardson, 33, Clifford’s Gate, Esh Winning, and Mark Swift, 26, The Brooms, Chester le Street, were each fined £330, ordered to pay £127 costs and a victim surcharge of £33 when they appeared at County Durham and Darlington Magistrates’ Court on 15 March.

Peacock and Swift were caught fishing without a licence on 6 August last year at Aldin Fishing Lakes, Durham, Richardson was caught at the same location on 4 August.

Kevin added: “This demonstrates just how seriously we take these offences. The cost of buying a licence is great value for money for the entire year, but not buying one has ultimately made it far more costly for these men. It’s just not worth it.

“We urge people to help us protect the health of our fisheries by reporting suspected illegal fishing to us.”

Anglers are reminded that it’s currently the closed season for coarse fishing.

This means angling on rivers and streams is not permitted. This is done to protect breeding fish, helping to safeguard fish stocks for the future. However, there are plenty of places anglers can still wet a line.

Coarse fishing is still allowed on most still waters and canals, depending on fishery owner agreement, though a valid fishing licence is still required. You can check which still waters and canals still have a close season in operation by checking the byelaws which apply in your area at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-fishing-byelaws

Anyone who wants to go fishing needs to buy a fishing licence. A full annual licence costs £30 (short term and some concessionary licences are also available) and are available online at www.gov.uk/get-a-fishing-licence.

People are urged to report illegal fishing to the Environment Agency’s incident hotline on 0800 807060, or police on 101.

For media enquiries contact the press office on 0800 917 9251.
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