Number of illegal fishing prosecutions published - but are the figures a 'soft excuse?' - asks one South Holland angler
The Environment Agency (EA) has released its latest figures on action taken over illegal angling across the district.
Over the last financial year (2017-2018) it said that a total of 2,799 rod licences were checked, £15,789 fines and costs imposed and 134 successful prosecutions. There were 221 illegal fishing incidents reported to its hotline and £1,302,465 in income generated from rod licence sales.
But the figures are for the whole of Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire and the press office for the EA said it did not have a breakdown of figures for South Holland that it could give us.
Sutton St James angler Andi Shortland, who has called for more action over illegal fishing, called the report ‘a soft excuse.’
He runs a Facebook page called ‘The Diary of a Fen Angler’ and said: “I am not filled with confidence and without the actual figures for the area it’s a bit of a fudge over.
“The area that it covers is massive with miles of waterways. I would like to see people being checked.”
Operation Clampdown 7, a joint initiative between the trust, the EA and police, is currently under way with more volunteer bailiffs on patrol.
A spokesperson for the EA said: “The Environment Agency carries out enforcement work all year round, supported by partners including the police and the Angling Trust, to tackle illegal fishing. Fishing illegally can net you a criminal conviction and a fine of up to £50,000.
“Enforcement work is intelligence-led, targeting known hot-spots where illegal fishing is reported, so we’re asking anyone with information to call our hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
East of England regional enforcement manager for the Angling Trust, Paul Thomas, said: “Protecting fish and fisheries from poaching and fish theft, allied to increasing rod licence compliance, has to be of utmost importance to all anglers - and those who cheat honest anglers by not contributing to angling improvements funded by fishing rod licence sales must be brought to book.
“In partnership with the Environment Agency, the Angling Trust has listened carefully to the concerns of anglers, angling clubs and fishery owners to devise a very clear vision and strategy to tackle the issues, to which we remain fully committed.
“All fishery offences need to be reported to the Environment Agency 24/7 hotline 0800 807060 or the police on 999 or 101 as appropriate and anglers are reminded that they can also seek free fisheries enforcement advice from me simply by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org