Illegal Lancashire anglers fined thousands by the courts

Rod: This angler has a licence but others fishing illegally risk fines
Rod: This angler has a licence but others fishing illegally risk fines
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Dozens of anglers have been fined by the courts over the last two years for illegal fishing.

Figures from the Environment Agency show there were 128 prosecutions for fishing without a rod license at Lancashire’s rivers, lakes and fisheries between 2011 and 2013.

A Freedom of Information request by the Evening Post revealed magistrates courts in the county issued a total of £15,712 in fines for the offence during that period, with defendants ordered to pay £13,026 costs on top of that.

The largest single fine was £400 plus £127 costs for illegal angling at Wyreside Lakes Fishery in Dolphinholme, near Lancaster, last December.

The maximum penalty that can be issued is a £2,500 fine.

Other places where illegal anglers were detected included the River Ribble at Ribbleton in Preston and in Ribchester; Greenhalgh Lodge and Whitmore Fishery in Kirkham; Horns Dam at Longridge; Tewitfield Locks near Carnforth, Heapey Lodge in Chorley, and Turbary House Fishery at Whitestake. It is up to individuals to buy licences, from £3.75 a day or £27 a year.

Environment Agency officers checked more than 80,000 licences and prosecuted 2,700 people across the country last year.

They say illegal fishing puts stocks at risk and that money from rod licences is out back into protecting and improving fisheries.

They carry out regular patrols of waterways, as well as acting on information from the public.

Nick Mercer, Fisheries and Biodiversity Team Leader for the Environment Agency, said: “We take a proactive approach to our rod licence checking and enforcement and have a strong track record of ensuring we apprehend people who fish without a rod license.

“Money from rod licence sales is invested into improving facilities, protecting vulnerable fish stocks and habitat improvements. Those who avoid buying the licence fees cheat fellow anglers of vital investment into their sport.

“If you’re caught fishing without a licence your tackle could be seized and you could face a fine of up to £2,500.”

Richard Kenworthy of Turbary House Fishery in Whitestake said he was only aware of a couple of incidents of unlicensed fishing there in the last few years. The centre has two course fishing lakes.

He said: “We advertise that you have to have your rod licence. It’s all on the rules we have at the side of the lake.

“We have a lot of regulars who come here who all have them and show them. It’s down to individuals to get a licence or take the risk if they don’t have them to get fined.”

- Illegal fishing can be reported to the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.