Nine fishermen have been received fines of more than £6,000 after illegally fishing around Staffordshire, including the River Trent in Burton.
On Monday, June 26 North Staffordshire Justice Centre Magistrates’ Court heard how the nine anglers were caught fishing illegally over the last nine months.
The nine were caught without a valid rod licence by Environment Agency officers on their regular patrols of hotspots. The River Trent at Burton and pools near Stoke, Stafford, Burntwood, Leek and Wolverhampton were all places where the men were caught.
The people have all been named, as six pleaded guilty to their offences and the others failed to appear in court so were proved guilty in absence. Fines varied from £457 to £942, a massive 30 times the price of an annual £30 licence.
A Burton man is included in the list, Ryan Scarisbrick of Richmond Street. James Morrison of The Chartway in Walsall, Connah Reynolds of Brierley Park in Buxworth, Ben Brammer of Handley Street in Stoke on Trent, Ben Gee of Villa Close in Biddulph, Julian May of Wolseley Street in Birmingham, Matthew Bains of Hillside Drive in Leek, Leslie Keeley of Hawthorne Grove in Wallasey and Craig Hall of Orchard Close in Willenhall, were all found guilty under Section 27(1)(a) of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.
A representative from the Environment Agency, Andrew Eardley has expressed his confusion of why people take the risk of not getting a valid license.
Mr Eardley said: “I can’t understand why a minority of anglers continue to risk prosecution for fishing without a licence. A licence costs just £30 and now lasts for twelve months from the day you buy it. Fishing licence money is invested into England’s fisheries and rivers; improving the sport of angling.
“The minority of anglers that fail to buy a fishing licence are cheating their fellow anglers and the future of the sport. Fishing licence cheats risk a criminal conviction, a significant fine and could lose their fishing equipment.”
Anyone who witnesses illegal fishing can report it directly to the Environment Agency hotline, 0800 80 70 60. Information on illegal fishing and environmental crime can also be reported anonymously to Crime stoppers on 0800 555 111.