A North Tyneside man has been fined for breaching his fishing licence conditions off the coast of Tynemouth.
Robert Oliver, of Kendal Avenue in Cullercoats, appeared at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on Friday, January 25.
He was charged with two offences – one for using a drift net, which exceeded the allowed size, and another of fishing in the Tyne Conservation Area A.
After pleading guilty, the 54-year-old was fined £150 and ordered to pay costs and a victim surcharge, making the total almost £3,000, as well as forfeiting the excess drift net.
Prosecuting on behalf of the Environment Agency, Matthew Treece told the court that licensed netsmen were permitted to fish for salmon and sea trout using a drift net not more than 550 metres long.
In the Tyne Conservation Area A – an area surrounding the estuary at Tynemouth – all fishing, other than with rod and line, is prohibited.
This is where migratory salmon and sea trout accumulate to wait for the right conditions to enter the river system to spawn.
On June 4, 2018, fisheries enforcement officers on patrol spotted Oliver’s boat fishing with a drift net that extended into the conservation area by 185 metres.
The crew had caught one sea trout and 15 salmon.
The drift net used was 724 metres long. The excess net was cut off and the 550 metres of net was returned to Oliver.
In interview, Oliver said he never measured his nets and was unaware he was fishing in the conservation area due to poor visibility.
Joe Watson, fisheries enforcement officer at the Environment Agency, said: “The Environment Agency works hard to maintain, improve and develop fisheries, including migratory salmon and sea trout fisheries, and issues licences where necessary to allow people to take fish in particular areas using particular methods.
“This is to help protect what is a vulnerable natural resource and the future of our fish stocks, and those who flout the law are putting the future of this resource in jeopardy.”