IMPACT OF ILLEGAL FISHING FOR SALMON, TROUT
Poaching pair fined for taking Cumbrian salmon
Published 25 July 2003
Two men from west Cumbria were yesterday (Thursday)
fined £500 each after being caught poaching salmon from River
Ehen at Ennerdale Bridge.
John Anthony Taylor, aged 43, of Queens Crescent,
Frizington, and Derek Andrew Bulman, aged 22, of Arlecdon Road,
Frizington, both pleaded guilty to two offences when they appeared
at Whitehaven Magistrates' Court.
As well as being fined, the men were ordered
to pay £125 costs each to the Environment Agency, which brought
Neil Pilling, prosecuting for the Agency, told
magistrates that Taylor and Bulman were spotted by an Environment
Agency bailiff near Ennerdale Bridge on 14 December 2002.
Taylor was seen bending over tree roots searching
for fish in the River Ehen, while Bulman was acting as his guide
and "look out". The two men worked a stretch of the
river near Ennerdale village.
The Agency bailiff telephoned for assistance,
and a colleague soon arrived. Taylor and Bulman approached a black
Ford Sierra parked near the church in Ennerdale village, and as
they did so the bailiffs stopped them.
The court was told that the bailiffs found a
live salmon, weighing about 5lb, in a plastic bag in Taylor's
jacket. The fish had two hookmarks in its stomach. Taylor's jacket
also concealed an extendable "gaff hook"an illegal
pole with a hook attached used for landing large fish.
Both the gaff hook and the salmon were confiscated
by the Environment Agency bailiffs.
Speaking after the hearing, the Environment
Agency's Fisheries Team Leader, Jeremy Westgarth, said: "Poaching
is a serious crime and this case shows the Environment Agency
is determined to stamp it out. The fish these men had was spawning
and contained about 4,000 eggs, which have now been lost from
the Ehen river system.
"We have a dedicated and professional team
of officers who carry out anti-poaching patrols and surveillance
on rivers. We are increasing these patrols and we will take action
against anyone we catch poaching."
Custodial sentences for men illegally netting
Published: 5 December 2003
Lee Thomas Davies of Belmont, Pendre, Cardigan
and Jason Lee Tamlin of Ridgeway, Cardigan both received custodial
sentences at Cardigan Magistrate's Court on 2 December 2003 on
charges brought by Environment Agency Wales under the Salmon and
Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975. The offences took place between
the two town bridges on the River Teifi in Cardigan in May 2003.
Davies had pleaded guilty to illegally netting
salmon on 11 and 23 May, while Tamlin had pleaded guilty to the
same offence carried out on 23 May. Davies was sentenced to seven
days imprisonment on each charge, sentences to run concurrently.
Tamlin was sentenced to seven days imprisonment for the offence,
which took place on 23 May.
In announcing its decision the Chairman of the
Bench told the defendants that they considered these matters to
be very serious and not as trivial as their solicitor had tried
to persuade the Court. He emphasized the need for fish stocks
to be preserved.
Following the case an Agency spokesperson commented:
"Salmon stocks are declining and it is vitally important
that fish returning to the rivers are protected so that they can
spawn. By using the net in this location they could have seriously
reduced the numbers of fish able to return to the headwaters of
the river and successfully replenish stocks."
Fishing is a very popular sport, particularly
on the River Teifi, and it makes a significant contribution to
the Welsh tourist economy. People who take fish illegally and
have no regard to the consequences of their actions could seriously
affect the future viability of fisheries."
Illegal netting on River Neath costs Swansea men
Published: 15 December 2003
Two Swansea men have pleaded guilty to an illegal
netting offence on the River Neath. The offence took place near
Giants Grave, Skewen on 22 August this year. At Port Talbot Magistrates'
Court on 10 December 2003, Derek Royston John of Lon Hafren, Caemawr,
Morriston and Derek Alexander Williams of Llangyfelach Road, Brynhyfryd
were both fined £350 and each ordered to pay costs of £200
to Environment Agency Wales who brought the prosecution.
John and Williams both pleaded guilty to using
an unauthorised fixed engine (net) in any inland or tidal waters
contrary to Section 6(1) of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries
Act 1975 (as substituted by Section 33(1) of the Salmon Act 1986)
and to breaching Byelaw 5(A) of the Agency's Sea Fishery Byelaws
by using a prohibited instrument to take sea fish, an offence
contrary to Section 211 of the Water Resources Act 1991.
The Court was told that following a report from
a member of the public, Agency bailiffs mounted a covert surveillance
operation on the site of a submerged net located near the premises
of Simms Metal at Giants Grave. As the net became uncovered a
number of fish were seen struggling in it. The two defendants
subsequently arrived at the net site and were seen to remove a
number of fish from the net. Both also removed sticks and weed
from the net before resetting it. The two men were subsequently
intercepted by the Agency bailiffs and advised that their actions
had been witnesses and recorded on video camera.
Five mullet were recovered as well as a 70 metre
net which had been fixed to two steel posts. The fish were forfeited
and in addition the Agency retained possession of the net under
its powers under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.
It was emphasized to the court that the primary
purpose of the legislation was to protect stocks of salmon and
migratory trout and that although only sea fish had been taken
on this occasion, the potential existed for any migratory fish
present in the river to also be captured as this form of fishing
does not discriminate between species.
After the case an Agency spokesperson commented:
"Using nets within rivers and tidal estuaries is not only
illegal but there is a huge potential to deplete fish stocks as
nets are totally indiscriminate. The River Neath like many other
rivers is unable to meet spawning targets for salmon and sea trout,
to sustain healthy stocks. Poaching can have serious consequences
for fish stocks. The Agency is pleased that the magistrate chose
to reflect these concerns by issuing significant fines."
Anyone who sees pollution, illegal tipping of
waste, poaching, fish in distress or danger to the natural environment
can contact the Agency's emergency hotline on 0800 80 70 60. The
hotline operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, calls are free
and will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Winchester salmon poacher receives community punishment
and tagging order
Published: 30 January 2004
Yesterday at Basingstoke Magistrates Court Aaron
Petch of Fivefields Road, Winchester pleaded guilty to illegally
taking salmon and failing to state his name and address to a Water
Bailiff on 5 January 2003 in a case brought by the Environment
At 5 am on 5 January last year Mr Petch was
observed by Environment Agency Fisheries Officers shining a powerful
torch into a private side stream of the River Itchen in Winchester.
He then proceeded to use a hand held snatch (a weighted treble
hook used to foul hook fish) to snag a pair of spawning salmon.
Mr Petch was then approached by the Environment Agency Fisheries
Officers who arrested him and, with the assistance of two police
officers, took him to Winchester police station where he was interviewed.
Taking into account his previous convictions,
Magistrates sentenced Petch to an 80-hour Community Punishment
Order for using the snatch and light. He also received a four
month Tagging Order with a 10 pm to 6 am curfew, was banned from
holding a fishing licence for one year, forfeited the snatch,
torch and fish seized by the Fisheries Officers and was ordered
to pay costs of £150 to the Environment Agency.
Adrian Saunders, Environment Agency Area Fisheries
Technical Support Team Leader said, "The salmon population
of the River Itchen is under a great deal of pressure at the moment.
The Environment Agency and its partners are putting a huge amount
of effort into saving these magnificent fish and licensed anglers
are returning 100% of the salmon they catch alive.
"It is therefore extremely disappointing
when poachers illegally take spawning fish at the moment when
they are making their contribution to completing the life cycle.
Environment Agency Fisheries Officers are on duty day and night
and working with other enforcement agencies we will ensure that
poachers are caught and put before the Courts where they are liable
to receive stiff punishments, even prison terms for serious offences,
Otters Endangered by Illegal Eel Nets
Published 4 March 2004
A Dorset fisherman was today ordered to pay
£3,000 in fines and costs for setting dozens of illegal eel
nets in Poole Harbour. The eel fisherman also had £1,480
worth of nets destroyed by the Environment Agency.
Eel fishing is strictly controlled by the Agency
to protect stocks and each net, known as a fyke net, must be licensed.
Fishermen must also fit their nets with otter guards to prevent
otters from drowning.
On 23 July 2003 fisheries officers were patrolling
Poole Harbour when they found 182 fyke nets set in three separate
areas within the harbour. A third of the nets weren't displaying
Agency licence tags. There were no otter guards fitted to 37 of
the 62 nets seized. Otters are attracted to eels caught in fyke
nets and can drown if they get trapped inside a net.
Agency officers traced the owner of the nets
to Steven John Charles Matthews, of Poole Road, Upton, Poole.
He admitted the nets were his. The fishing boat used to set the
nets was called, appropriately, "Silver Eel". The licensing
of nets is important because it provides valuable information
on eel stocks.
"Otters are a protected species. We are
fortunate in Dorset to have seen an increase in otter numbers
on local rivers in recent years. Sadly, there have been fatalities.
Two years ago an adult otter and two cubs were found dead in an
illegal fyke net in the River Stour and another otter drowned
in a net in Poole Harbour. It is therefore very important that
eel fishermen ensure their nets are fitted with otter guards,"
said Julian Wardlaw for the Environment Agency.
Matthews was today found guilty in his absence
by Bournemouth Magistrates who fined the fisherman £1,500
and ordered him to pay £1,500 costs for placing and using
unauthorised fyke nets in tidal waters on or about 23 July 2003
contrary to the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 and the
Salmon Act 1986.
Agencies join to halt elver crime
Published: 10 March 2004
On Wednesday 10 March 2004 the Environment Agency,
Gloucestershire Police, Gloucester City Council and British Waterways
announce a new joint campaign to pool resources and information
to combat the anti-social behaviour and lawlessness that gives
the traditional activity of elver fishing a bad name.
The agencies involved stress that responsible
elver fishermen who operate within the law have nothing to fear.
The campaign is not intended to restrict the number of elvers
caught, or stop elver fishing, and the intention is to preserve
this historic activity along the banks of the River Severn.
Recently, examples of irresponsible behaviour
have been on the increase. With elvers fetching up to £300
per kilo on the open market in recent years, this lucrative activity
is attracting people who display little regard for their fellow
citizens, or the reputations of their responsible colleagues.
Each year, the Environment Agency's enforcement
teams patrol the River Severn to catch fishermen operating without
a licence or involved in illegal activities, such as the use of
equipment that gives them an unfair advantage and harms elvers.
The licence fee (currently £20 a year) is ploughed back by
the Agency into research and development to secure the future
for the next generation of elvers and elver fishermen. By fishing
without a licence, illegal fishermen are depriving their colleagues
of future catches and may put the very existence of elver fishing
Environment Agency Fisheries Team Leader, Al
Watson, says: "This a heritage activity and well worth preserving.
We hope that responsible fishermen who operate legally will support
us in trying to ensure they are not cheated out of their legitimate
income by their less savoury colleagues. We want to ensure it
is a level playing field for everyone. This year, for the first
time, we will be sharing resources and information with our colleagues
in other agencies to ensure that illegal fishermen do not have
an unfair advantage and to stop the irresponsible behaviour that
is putting lives at risk.
Gloucestershire Police welcomes the new initiative,
which will help to make the most effective use of their resources
to tackle a source of criminal damage. Inspector Emma Davies,
of Gloucestershire Police, said: "The Constabulary welcomes
the opportunity to work in partnership with all of the other agencies
and we will be working closely with them to enforce the legislation
surrounding elver fishing. We are also committed to combating
all aspects of criminal activity and anti-social behaviour relating
to this activity."
British Waterways are concerned about the use
of unlicensed boats on the river. At the end of the elver season
in May, illegal boats are often left unattended in out of the
way places where children can use them during the summer months,
thereby putting their lives at risk.
Gloucester City Council is concerned about damage
to stiles and fences, often using chainsaws, close to a known
elver fishing spot. The wood is believed to be used by the fishermen
for fires to keep warm during long cold nights fishing. In one
incident, a herd of rare breed cows was turned out on to the road.
The cost of replacing these fences each year falls on the council
tax payers of Gloucester. Derek Brown, City Council Countryside
Manager, said: "There has to be mutual respect. We respect
the long-standing tradition of elver fishing but there needs to
be respect by the fishermen towards the city council's land and
our use of it as a nature reserve. Actions which put our visitors
and animals at potential risk is unacceptable."
Illegal fishermen are much more likely to get
caught under this new initiative and it could prove very expensive
indeed. Anyone caught by the Agency fishing illegally will end
up with a criminal record and can look forward to a fine of up
to £2,500. British Waterways say the maximum fine for an
unlicensed boat is £1,000 and Gloucestershire Police and
the City Council will act against anyone found causing criminal