Two further suspects remain at large and the Environment Agency is urging anyone with information to report it to their incident hotline.
It is suspected they were poaching on Waskerley Beck, Wolsingham, using an illegal gaff – a one meter long metal hook – which they used to take 13 sea trout. Eleven of the dead fish were females ready to spawn. Between them they were carrying around 35,000 eggs.
Environment Agency officers made the arrest at 2100hrs on 21 November 2017. During the operation they seized the gaff, the dead fish and a landing net. The investigation is ongoing.
The Environment Agency’s Kevin Summerson said:
This level of illegal activity could have a serious impact on the sustainability of future stocks of sea trout in the River Wear. That’s why we take reports of suspected poaching seriously and work closely with the police to take action where appropriate.
At this time of year salmon and sea trout are returning to rivers to spawn and protecting returning fish is vital to maintaining a healthy fish population.
We’ll continue to target all aspects of illegal fishing activity, particularly where serious illegal and potentially damaging methods are used.
Reporting illegal fishing
Anyone discovered committing offences could face a substantial fine in court. The Environment Agency urges anyone to report illegal fishing by calling 0800 80 70 60.
All income from rod licence sales is used to fund Environment Agency work to protect and improve fish stocks and fisheries, including improving habitats for fish and facilities for anglers, tackling illegal fishing and working with partners to encourage people to give fishing a go.
Buying a rod licence is quick and easy - you can buy them online at the Post Office.