The Environment Agency is reminding anglers of the importance of having a rod licence after a County Durham man was fined for fishing illegally.
Dean Ferguson, 49, of Browning Hill, Coxhoe, failed to appear for his court hearing at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on Monday, 23 January.
In his absence he was fined £660, ordered to pay £127 costs and a victim surcharge of £66.
Shortly before midnight on the night of Saturday 6 August 2016, Environment Agency Fisheries Enforcement Officers were carrying out intelligence-led patrols on the River Wear in Durham city.
They saw Ferguson start fishing in the river using a double-handed salmon rod, and almost immediately he had foul-hooked a sea trout, which means the fish was hooked somewhere other than in the mouth.
He was stopped by the officers who searched his vehicle, and found the foul-hooked fish. Ferguson also admitted he did not have a valid rod licence.
He was summonsed to appear at court for the offences. It’s illegal to fish without a licence, and to fail to return to the water any fish that is foul-hooked.
‘Vital’ that anglers abide by law
Kevin Summerson, Fisheries Technical Specialist for the North East, said:
It’s vital that anglers abide by the law to protect the future of the sport and the quality of our rivers and fisheries.
We won’t hesitate to take action to stop illegal fishing and hopefully this will act as a deterrent for any angler thinking of cheating the system.
All the money raised from rod licence sales is used to protect and improve fish stocks and fisheries, benefiting anglers.
Rod licence income funds improvements
During 2016 in the North East there were six serious fisheries offences resulting in £460 in fines and £600 costs, plus forfeiture of equipment and a crushed vehicle.
There were a further 54 offenders prosecuted for 59 rod licence offences resulting in fines of £14,327, with four offenders also given conditional discharges.
Anyone discovered committing offences could face a substantial fine at court.
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.
The Environment Agency urges anyone to report illegal fishing by calling 0800 80 70 60.