Two men have been fined over £300 for fishing illegally in the River Ebble, near Salisbury.
Noel Delvin, 26, of Whitfield Road, Biddlesden, Buckignhamshire, and Johnny Cash, 32, of Dudmoor Farm Road, Christchurch, were both charged with fishing without a licence with an instrument other than a rod and line in July last year.
Both men pleaded guilty at Salisbury Magistrates Court last month and were each fined £200 and ordered to pay £115 in costs. The make-shift rod and net used in the incident were also ordered to be forfeited under the Salmon and Freshwater Fish Act 1975 and were subsequently destroyed.
In July 2018, officers responded to a report of two men walking in the river with a yellow pole. Officers located Devlin and Cash – Devlin was holding multiple fish threaded on a branch through their gills and Cash, once aware of the police presence, was seen to throw two fish into the river.
After being challenged by officers, the pair exited the river with a long wooden pole and a make-shift net. A number of fish were found dead at the scene..
Wildlife Crime Officer PCSO Matthew Smith said: “Plenty of keen anglers enjoy fishing lawfully with the appropriate licenses in and around Wiltshire. There are no excuses for the small minority that don’t think the law applies to them and break the rules.
“Not only are offenders like Delvin and Cash cheating their fellow anglers and damaging the environment, but as in this case, they also risk a criminal conviction, a fine and losing their fishing equipment.
“We continue to work with our partners in the Angling Trust and the Environment Agency to target and prosecute those who fish illegally. We rely on the community to act as our eyes and ears and urge anyone who sees anything suspicious to report it to us immediately.”
South-West England Regional Enforcement Manager for the Angling Trust Nevin Hunter said, “This case shows the effectiveness of the work we have undertaken working with Wiltshire Police in recent years to raise the profile of angling related crime and I commend them for the actions taken and the outcome achieved. This case offers us reassurance to know the concerns of anglers are taken seriously. We look forward to further successful partnership work with Wiltshire Police.”
Anglers can buy a rod licence quickly and easily online at www.gov.uk/fishing-licences
Anyone witnessing illegal fishing incidents in progress can report it directly to the Environment Agency hotline on 0800 80 70 60. Information on illegal fishing and environmental crime can also be reported to police on 101 or anonymously to Crime stoppers on 0800 555 111.