Environment Agency Clamps Down on Illegal Fishing
It looks like the authorities are stepping up their war on illegal fishing. Six anglers have found themselves in court recently after fishing in Hampshire waters and three of them ended up having to pay more than £800 each in fines and court costs.
6 Anglers Find Themselves in Hot Water
Five of the anglers concerned were caught illegally fishing in May and the other in June last year. They were nabbed by police and then had to appear at Southampton Magistrate’s Court. The fines handed down were far from lenient and demonstrated that those who try to cheat the system are
not treated with any leniency.
Jack Sillence of Blackfield, was caught close to home at Mopley Pond and Nik Sinclair, of Ringwood, was discovered fishing illegally at Hightown Lake. Both men were ordered to pay a total of £853 including costs and so probably won’t make the same mistake again!
Meanwhuke, Andrew Turner, of Southsea, was fined a total of £847, Kerry Farr of Eastleigh was fined £611 and Jonathan Ramsey of Chessington was fined £677. The three anglers were all caught at Broadlands Lakes near Ower on May 29 2016. Kristofer Cairns of Andover was apprehended at John O’Gaunt, Kings Sombourne. He was ordered to pay £787 by the court.
This might all sound rather draconian and £800 does seem like a huge fine for what could be considered a minor offence. However, The Environment Agency are keen to prevent illegal fishing and to collect the funds from license fees as these are used to support fishing, fisheries and fish stocks. The money to do this has to come from somewhere and the fishing licence fee is how the required funds are collected.
Minimal Cost to Avoid Big trouble
With a fishing licence costing just £27, it really doesn’t make any sense to try to avoid paying. Those who fish illegally face a fine of up to £2500 and a criminal conviction. The Environment Agency is lying in wait to catch out those who cheat. It is easy to think that nobody is paying any attention to what Is going on but they are! Many anglers take exception to those who flout the rules and will report any suspicious activity that they see to the Environment Agency’s Incident Hotline or to Crimestoppers.
In addition, the Environment Agency is recruiting anglers to be their eyes and ears in the fight against illegal fishing. Volunteers are being used to act as bailiffs and to report suspicious activity to the both the Environment Agency and the police. The Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS) already has over 300 members but is being extended in some areas of the country.