Patrols stepped up to tackle illegal fishing in Yorkshire as 55 anglers reported for offences

A warning has been issued over illegal fishing and poaching as dozens of Yorkshire anglers are found to be in breach of licensing rules.

A fisherman on the Don at Sprotbrough weir

Last year saw a sudden surge in fishing license sales but there are still those operating illegally, the Environment Agency (EA) has said, as patrols are launched to help protect fish stocks.

Enforcement officers are to police the region's rivers, lakes and ponds to crack down on those fishing illegally and to seize any traps, with 55 anglers already reprimanded in the region.

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Heidi Stone, fisheries partnerships manager for the agency, said income from licenses was used to protect fisheries and to ensure angling could be enjoyed by all.

Enforcement officers on patrol in Yorkshire

She said: “We encourage everyone to give fishing a go this summer and throughout this month, existing fishing licence holders can take a friend fishing by applying for a free day licence.

“As law abiding anglers know, illegal fishing and anti-social behaviour on our banks is not only harmful to fish populations, but can also have a detrimental effect on the environment and surrounding wildlife."

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The enforcement campaign has already seen action at 92 different locations across Yorkshire. Officers, checking 522 licences, have reported 55 anglers for fishing offences.

In the North East five people were reported in a single day of patrols, while in the West Midlands illegal crayfish traps have been seized.

In Lincolnshire, wildlife crime officers with The Angling Trust served a further 16 notices after checking 118 licences, while policing teams and bailiffs joined EA patrols in the South East.

Enforcement action under the project, named Operation Lungfish, aims to build on efforts to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour on river banks.

The campaign will run through August, which marks National Fishing Month. It comes after a surge in interest in the sport last year, with over a million rod licences sold to adults in England.

This was a 16 per cent increase on the previous year, and the EA has said sales will help protect fish stocks and sustain a healthier water environment.

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