Illegal anglers are being warned to obey the law or face prosecution after spot checks recorded 157 offences in Yorkshire in the past three months.
Enforcement patrols carried out during the coarse fish close season, which runs from 15 March to 15 June, reported 18 offences relating to fishing out of season, and another 139 offences that mostly involved fishing without a licence.
In May alone, some 23 people were prosecuted for illegal fishing in Yorkshire. The average fine for those prosecuted was £250. Nationally, there were 128 prosecutions in May. One angler’s failure to obtain a valid licence landed him with a fine of £827, when a year-long licence would have cost him just £27.
Peter Mischenko, Fisheries Technical Officer at the Environment Agency, said:
Generally speaking, anglers in Yorkshire are compliant with the law, but we are still out there carrying out spot checks, and we do find people fishing illegally.
Many of these offences are committed by the angler not having a licence, and we have also caught people coarse fishing during the close season. Both of these types of offences are crimes, and those who are caught will face appropriate enforcement action: they could be fined or banned.
The coarse fishing close season exists to allow the fish time to breed and spawn and so maintain a healthy stock of fish. When people ignore it, they are putting fish stocks at risk, which has a direct impact on the ecology of the watercourses and the enjoyment of other anglers.
The new fishing season for rivers, streams and drains began on 16 June, and those who want to get involved in this fantastic sport can buy a rod licence from Post Officers, the Environment Agency’s website.
Licences cost £27 (fixed at the 2011 price) for a full annual licence and the money allows the Environment Agency to continue to manage and improve fisheries on rivers, streams and man-made drains.
Anyone who suspects illegal fishing to be taking place should report the matter to the Environment Agency’s incident hotline, on 0800 807060.