Patrol to net illegal anglers

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ANGLERS fishing in South Holland without a licence have been the target of a joint operation between police and the Environment Agency.

Officers were out yesterday patrolling hotspots of illegal activity along the miles of waterways and rivers across the district.

Operation ESOX coincided with the start of the pike fishing season and involved three police teams from Spalding as well as officers from the Environment Agency.

This is the first time Fisheries Enforcement officers and police have joined forces to work in this way.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “Our officers not only checked rod licences, but were also looking for illegal nets and traps and visiting areas where we have had reports of people catching and eating fish.

“The police were looking for evidence of rural crime, anti-social behaviour and public order offences.”

Spalding’s Sgt Stuart Hurst said: “We were there in plain clothes to support the Environment Agency because we have the powers to enforce all aspects of the law.”

Lesley Robertson, Environmental Crime Team leader, said: “Anyone found fishing illegally may face prosecution and a hefty fine.”

Last year, the sale of nearly 250,000 fishing licences in the Anglia region helped to pay for fisheries work, with £390,000 spent improving habitats for fish or provide better facilities for anglers.