A lack of bailiffs on Spalding’s waterways has led to illegal angling in the town, it has been claimed.
Two readers have approached the Spalding Guardian after seeing anglers using the River Welland and Coronation Channel they suspect do not have rod licences or landing nets.
Our angling culture is conservation-based which means that you catch and return fishDilip Sarkar, national enforcement manager for the Angling Trust
One said: “I read that there were four volunteer bailiffs patrolling the waters in Spalding and South Holland.
“But I’ve never seen any on the Coronation Channel or the River Welland, where I have seen anglers without any net at all. On one occasion, my friend did say to someone ‘you’ve got to have a licence’ and the person packed up before moving on.”
Under rod fishing byelaws laid down by the Environment Agency, anyone fishing with a rod and line must hold a licence, use a keepnet or landing net that meets certain standards and can only take freshwater fish with the owner’s permission.
The second reader said: “It’s a really serious problem and a source of concern to me because just before Christmas last year, I saw someone fishing in the river who drew out a huge carp.
“I said ‘you’ve got to put it back because what you’re doing is illegal’.”
Operation Traverse, jointly run by Lincolnshire Police, the Angling Trust, the Environment Agency and the Fish Health Inspectorate, aims to inform people about fishing byelaws in this area.
Dilip Sarkar, national enforcement manager for the Angling Trust, said: “Our angling culture is conservation-based which means that you catch and return fish.
“That’s why Operation Traverse is so comprehensive, not just about rod licences and fish thieving but prevention and education as well.
“If you don’t have permission to fish, it’s a criminal offence that the police will now deal with.“
Darren Randall, fisheries officer at the Environment Agency, said: “Anglers must have a fishing licence and follow national and regional byelaws. “Anyone not doing so is breaking the law and could face fines of up to £50,000.
“We and our partners work hard to bring offenders to justice, as well as to protect the future of fishing for legitimate anglers.
“Those efforts saw more than 2,000 people prosecuted last year, but enforcement work is intelligence-led, so we would encourage anyone who spots potential illegal fishing, netting or trapping to contact us.”
• You can report illegal fishing by calling The Environment Agency 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.