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 Elver fisherman banned for using illegal net

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PostSubject: Elver fisherman banned for using illegal net   Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:58 pm

29-Nov-2011

A Bridgwater man has been banned from elver fishing for using an illegal net on the River Tone in Somerset.

David Roberts was also ordered to pay £650 in fines and costs and had his elvering equipment confiscated.The case was brought by the Environment Agency.

On March 21, 2011 Agency bailiffs went to the River Tone near Stoke Gregory after receiving a report of an illegal flow net hidden in the area. Flow nets are very large nets used in a fixed position. This can greatly increase the size of elver catches and gives unscrupulous fishermen an unfair advantage.

There has been a major decline in eel numbers in recent years. As a result, the netting of elvers is tightly controlled. Any method of fishing that boosts catches to unsustainable levels and threatens the survival of Somerset’s eel population is illegal.

Bailiffs searched the riverbank and found a flow net a short distance downstream of Hook Bridge. Nearby was a metal frame used to fix the net in position. Bailiffs left it on the riverbank and returned later in the day to see if anyone came to use it.

Early that evening the flow net was placed in the river and a man was seen walking away towards Hook Bridge. He returned approximately 40 minutes later was seen to lift the flow net up onto a flood bank.

The fisherman ran away when challenged by bailiffs but was later caught. During questioning he gave a false name and address. Bailiffs warned the suspect he would be arrested unless he provided his correct details at which point he became agitated. The man then tried to leave the scene and had to be forcibly restrained. He was arrested, handcuffed and the police called.

When bailiffs searched the fisherman’s car they found elver fishing equipment and approximately £200 worth of elvers. There was also a receipt for the purchase of elvers by an elver dealer. When asked why he had used an illegal flow net, David Roberts said, ’Times are hard. It’s the first year I have done so.’ The defendant admitted he didn’t have a licence.

‘Elver fishermen must only use hand-held nets of a restricted size and handle length. This is necessary to safeguard eel numbers and ensure stocks aren’t over exploited by unscrupulous fishermen. The flow net used by the defendant far exceeded the permitted size and was fixed. It was therefore illegal,’ said Richard Dearnley for the Environment Agency.

Appearing before Taunton magistrates, David Roberts was fined a total of £500 and ordered to pay £150 costs after being found guilty of two offences under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 including fishing for eels other than by a licensable means and obstructing a water bailiff in the execution of his duties. He was also disqualified from elver fishing for a year and ordered to forfeit his fishing equipment.
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