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EA Nets Illegal Netsmen

Jan 31,2007 SACN

Two Cornish fishermen were today ordered to pay £2,700 in fines and costs after being caught ‘red-handed’ retrieving an illegal gill net in St Austell Bay. The case was brought by the Environment Agency.

On September 24, 2006 the Agency received an anonymous tip-off from a member of the public who reported the illegal setting of nets close to the shore in the Little Gribben and Cannis Rock area of St Austell Bay. Netting is restricted in this area to protect salmon and sea trout migrating into the River Fowey to spawn.

There has been a problem, in recent years, with illegal netting in St Austell Bay that has resulted in the Agency seizing more than 8,000 metres of illegal bass nets. Nets can only be set if the top of the net is 3 metres (10ft) below the surface of the sea at any state of the tide so as to protect migrating salmon and sea trout.
An Agency fisheries patrol boat entered the restricted area and discovered an illegal net south of Polkerris. It had been fixed close to the surface using floating marker buoys.

The patrol boat contacted officers positioned on a nearby cliff who kept the area under surveillance throughout the night using night vision equipment. The following morning a local fishing boat, the ‘Dawn Raider’ was observed returning to the net to haul it.

The vessel was later boarded by a fisheries officer at Polperro Quay and its two-man crew  formally cautioned and questioned. Both men admitted setting the net and confirmed that they were aware of the netting restrictions in St Austell Bay.

‘The Agency has recently adopted a different approach in the way it responds to illegal netting in Cornwall. This operation was the first of its kind in the area and proved highly successful in identifying offenders,’ said Rob Hocking for the Environment Agency.

‘The Agency is aware of the existing bass fishery in St Austell Bay and as well as enforcing the law is keen to work with the local fishing community. Most local fishermen have now changed their fishing methods and have demonstrated that bass can be caught in a way that complies with the law and protects salmon and sea trout,’ added Rob Hocking.

Martin Thomas, of Morwenna, The Coombes, Polperro and Neil Harman of 11 Hillsview, Langreek, Polperro were today each fined £600 and ordered to pay £750 costs by Liskeard magistrates after pleading guilty to setting an illegal net in tidal waters, namely St Austell Bay, contrary to Section 6(1) and Schedule 4 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975, as amended by Section 33 of the Salmon Act 1986.

Members of the public can report incidents by calling the Environment Agency’s free 24 hour hotline 0800 80 70 60 (put it into your mobile now).


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