Just a few months after penalising 17 Staffordshire anglers, North Staffordshire Justice Centre Magistrates’ Court issued combined fines of £6,217 to a further 9 anglers for fishing offences. The court has now issued more than £17,000 fines this year for angling offences.
On 26 June 2017, North Staffordshire Justice Centre Magistrates’ Court heard how 9 anglers were caught fishing illegally over the past 9 months. Most fined on 26 June were caught fishing illegally in February this year.
All 9 were caught fishing without a rod licence by Environment Agency officers out on regular patrols. Six anglers pleaded guilty and 3 failed to appear in court so were proved guilty in absence. The lowest total fine was £457 and the highest was £942; that’s over 30 times more than an annual £30 licence!
The following were all found guilty under Section 27(1)(a) of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975:
- James Morrison of The Chartway in Walsall
- Connah Reynolds of Brierley Park in Buxworth
- Ben Brammer of Handley Street in Stoke on Trent
- Ben Gee of Villa Close in Biddulph,
- Julian May of Wolseley Street in Birmingham
- Ryan Scarisbrick of Richmond Street in Burton upon Trent
- Matthew Bains of Hillside Drive in Leek
- Leslie Keeley of Hawthorne Grove in Wallasey
- Craig Hall of Orchard Close in Willenhall
Craig Hall was also summoned to court for failing to state his name to a water bailiff when requested.
Magistrates heard that Environment Agency enforcement officers found these anglers fishing without a rod licence at pools near Stoke on Trent, Stafford, Burntwood, Leek and Wolverhampton; and on the River Trent at Burton.
Andrew Eardley of the Environment Agency said:
I can’t understand why a minority of anglers continue to risk prosecution for fishing without a licence. A licence costs just £30 and now lasts for 12 months from the day you buy it. Fishing licence money is invested into England’s fisheries and rivers; improving the sport of angling.
The minority of anglers that fail to buy a fishing licence are cheating their fellow anglers and the future of the sport. Fishing licence cheats risk a criminal conviction, a significant fine and could lose their fishing equipment.
Money from fishing licence sales is invested in England’s fisheries and is used to fund a wide range of projects to improve facilities for anglers, including protecting stocks from illegal fishing, pollution and disease; restoring fish stocks through re-stocking; eradicating invasive species; and fish habitat improvements. Fishing licence money is also used to fund the Angling Trust to provide information about fishing and to encourage participation in the sport.
Children under 12 fish for free. Anyone aged 12 to 16 also fish for free, but do need to have a valid Environment Agency fishing licence. Anyone over 16 must pay for an Environment Agency fishing licence to fish for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eel in England.
Anyone witnessing illegal fishing incidents in progress can report them directly to the Environment Agency hotline, 0800 80 70 60. Information on illegal fishing and environmental crime can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.