ANGLERS ARE showing “blatant disregard” for fish health, Environment Agency chief Peter Mischenko said, after the organisation continued its clampdown on illegal fishing in Yorkshire at the weekend.
Enforcement officers visited 18 fisheries across the region, checking a total of 235 anglers. Of those, 49 anglers - a fifth - were reported for fisheries offences.
Patrols are being focused on a range of illegal fishing activities, including fishing without a valid rod licence.
Mr Mischenko, the Agency’s fisheries officer for Yorkshire, said: “The number of anglers caught red-handed is testament to how seriously we take illegal fishing but worryingly it shows a blatant disregard for the law and the health of fisheries.
“People who don’t buy a licence are not only cheating other anglers and the future of the sport but running the risk of criminal conviction and a fine. There is no excuse – it costs just £27 for a whole year and you can buy it from the Post Office website.”
Officers have acted on intelligence to target patrols around more than 100 waters in the county this year, included known illegal fishing hotspots.
The maximum fine for fishing without a rod licence is £2,500.
Nationally, last year Agency officers checked more than 70,000 licences and prosecuted more than 2,100 licence cheats. Between them, they were ordered to pay fines and costs in excess of £500,000. In the same period, officers checked 7,027 anglers in Yorkshire, resulting in 520 of them being reported for offences.
On average, offenders were ordered to pay fines of £228 each.