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Agency says it is committed to catching illegal anglers in South Holland




The Environment Agency (EA) has reiterated its message to the public to report illegal fishing to them directly, following our article last week.

We reported how its latest figures for the last financial year (2017-2018) showed 134 successful prosecutions across Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, a total of 2,799 rod licences checked and £15,789 fines and costs imposed.

There were 221 illegal fishing incidents reported to its hotline and £1,302,465 in income generated from rod licence sales.

Operation Clampdown 7 is targeting those fishing illegally and without a licence. (8873218)
Operation Clampdown 7 is targeting those fishing illegally and without a licence. (8873218)

But there was criticism from some that there was no breakdown of figures for the South Holland area.

A number of people took to our Facebook page to express their views and called for more presence in the area.

A spokesperson for the EA told us: “The majority of anglers follow the rules, respecting their fellow enthusiasts, the sport and the environment – but we continue to crack down on those who don’t.

A net found near Vernatts Drain in Spalding by Piet Boekestijn - believed to be a 'gill net'. (8873215)
A net found near Vernatts Drain in Spalding by Piet Boekestijn - believed to be a 'gill net'. (8873215)

“Our enforcement officers rely on intelligence from the fishing community to tackle illegal activity, which is why it’s vital people report it directly to us, not just on social media, by calling 0800 80 70 60.

“We appreciate every single report we receive and will always follow up on them.

"And if you feel like you want to do more to help us protect the environment and the future of angling, why not get involved as a volunteer bailiff – you can find more information on the Angling Trust’s website."

South Holland neighbourhood policing inspector, Gareth Boxall, said officers are continuing to work with the Environment Agency, Angling Trust and other forces to crack down on illegal fishing. (4234433)
South Holland neighbourhood policing inspector, Gareth Boxall, said officers are continuing to work with the Environment Agency, Angling Trust and other forces to crack down on illegal fishing. (4234433)

He added:“Our officers undertake regular patrols – for example, last weekend, they covered 60km and checked over 126 licences. Of these, they found 12 people fishing illegally, who now face prosecution.

“Across Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, we’ve invested over £600k in fisheries improvements like habitat works and fish passes. Forty percent of this funding has gone into improving the River Welland, which runs through Spalding."

Inspector Gareth Boxall, neighbourhood policing inspector for South Holland, explained: "We have specialist officers who continue to work with the Environment Agency and Angling Trust. Jointly, we do target illegal angling and fish poaching during the close season and do so as part of Operation Clampdown.

"Whilst we continue to patrol locations within South Holland, enforcement only forms part of our approach. We are determined to address the causes of these problems and continue to work with the Environment Agency, Angling Trust and other forces to do that."

Operation Clampdown 7 is a joint initiative involving the Angling Trust, the Environment Agency and police forces. (8508317)
Operation Clampdown 7 is a joint initiative involving the Angling Trust, the Environment Agency and police forces. (8508317)

It is currently ‘close season’ for fishing, which runs from March 15 to June 15 and affects rivers, drains, streams and canals.

But most ‘enclosed stillwaters’ (such as lakes, reservoirs and ponds) aren’t subject to a close season and privately-owned bodies of water – including nature reserves – may have different rules set out by the owner, says the Environment Agency (EA).

The agency adds that anglers must check the freshwater rod fishing rules on its website, and local fishing byelaws so that they know the rules before they fish or they could face prosecution.

Following our story last week, reader Pete Boekestijn posted a picture of a net, believed to be a ‘gill net’, found by the Vernatts Drain last Saturday and said that earlier in the week he stopped two men who were fishing in there. Pete is also a volunteer at the Vernatts Drain Nature Reserve.

A gill net is a fishing net which is hung vertically so that fish get trapped in it by their gills.

Paul Thomas, East of England regional enforcement manager for the Angling Trust, said: “These nets are sadly readily available to buy on-line and do not discriminate on what they catch, not just fish - but wildfowl and mammals such as endangered water voles could easily become snagged in the fine mesh that sits just below the surface, leading to a potentially slow and painful death.

“Anybody that finds such an illegal instrument should immediately report the find to the EA on their 24/7 incident hotline 0800 807060.

"That way the authorities are aware of the location and can then take a tactical decision on how to deal with the net.”

PREVIOUSLY:

Number of illegal fishing prosecutions published - but are the figures a 'soft excuse?' - asks one South Holland angler

Spalding's illegal anglers to be caught in the net?

We want to see further action on illegal fishing in South Holland - says angler


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