Two men have been fined after being caught poaching with gill nets in Northumberland.
Ricci John Pike, 34, of Alnwick Street, Wallsend, and Philip Edler, 48, of Wyndham Way, North Shields, were fined £80, oredered to pay £100 costs, and a £20 victim surcharge after appearing at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court.
The pair pleaded guilty to fishing on the River Tyne at Wylam without a licence after they were caught by Environment Agency officers.
On July 22, 2015, an Environment Agency enforcement officer carrying out targeted covert patrols saw three men in the Haggs Bank area of Wylam just before midnight.
The men were seen to set two nets, before returning at 4am on July 23, when they hauled the nets, which had migratory fish – salmon and sea trout – caught in them.
At 4.20am, the men were stopped by police and arrested. The third man is due in court this month.
Dave Edwardson, Environment Agency enforcement team leader in the north east, said: “We take reports of suspected poaching seriously and work closely with the police to take action.
“In this case Edler and Pike were fishing on the River Tyne using nets which are potentially extremely damaging to fish stocks.”
“And at the time of year in happened, salmon and sea trout are returning to rivers to spawn and protecting returning fish is vital to maintaining a healthy fish population.
“We’ll continue to work closely with the police and angling clubs to target those fishing illegally and take enforcement action.”
The court also ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the fishing equipment used in the incident.
Anyone discovered committing offences could face a substantial fine at court. The Environment Agency urges anyone to report illegal fishing by calling 0800 80 70 60.
All income from rod licence sales is used to fund Environment Agency work to protect and improve fish stocks and fisheries, including improving habitats for fish and facilities for anglers, tackling illegal fishing and working with partners to encourage people to give fishing a go.