Man is fined after being caught poaching fish

The fish and nets seized by Environment Agency officials.

The fish and nets seized by Environment Agency officials.

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A man has been fined after being caught poaching fish twice in Northumberland.

Peter Christopher Ward, 30, of Bellshill Close, Battle Hill, pleaded guilty to fishing without a licence on separate occasions last July and September.

Newcastle Magistrates’ Court heard that on both occasions he used nets which trap fish by the gills.

On July 22, an Environment Agency enforcement officer saw Ward and two other men – Ricci John Pike and Philip Edler – in the Haggs Bank area of Wylam just before midnight.

The men set two nets, before returning at 4am.

And between September 16 and September 19, Ward was again seen with two other men committing the same offence in the same location in Wylam.

Ward was fined £80, ordered to pay costs of £100 and a victim surcharge of £20.

At an earlier hearing, Pike, 34, of Alnwick Street, Wallsend, and Edler, 48, of Wyndham Way, North Shields, were given the same fines.

The two men involved in the September offence are due in court next month.

Environment Agency enforcement team leader in the north east, Dave Edwardson, said: “We take reports of suspected poaching seriously and work closely with the police to take action.”

He added: “Ward was arrested in July for fishing on the River Tyne using nets which are potentially extremely damaging to fish stock.

“But then he was arrested again in September for the same offence in the same location, showing a complete disregard for the law.

“This has ultimately been costly, because not only has he been fined but his fishing equipment and the vehicle they were using have been seized and will be destroyed.

“We’ll continue to work closely with the police and angling clubs to target those fishing illegally and take enforcement action.”

Anyone discovered committing offences could face a substantial fine at court. The Environment Agency urges anyone to report illegal fishing by calling 0800 807060.