A Durham man has been fined £100 at Durham Magistrates’ court after pleading guilty to fishing for salmon and sea trout without a licence, and failing to state his address.
Colin Mallinson May, aged 42 of West Rainton, Houghton-le-Spring, was also ordered to pay costs of £50 to the Environment Agency, which brought the case.
Christian Swinburne, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court that during a surveillance operation on the River Wear, Framwellgate, Environment Agency officers and Police officers approached Mr May, who had been seen to cast a rod twice and kill a fish at the scene.
This had also been caught on CCTV. When asked, Mr May supplied his address, and when verified it was later found that Mr May did not hold a rod licence.
Police later verified that he had given an incorrect address, but traced him to a new address.
In court, Mr May initially entered a not guilty plea and it was not until he viewed the video evidence he changed his plea to guilty for both charges.
In mitigation, Mr May said he did not supply an incorrect address, but was in the process of moving house.
Speaking after the case, fisheries enforcement team leader Kevin Summerson said: “Fishing illegally puts migrating salmon and sea trout at risk and we have worked with the local authority to give greater protection to these fish.
“The River Wear at Framwellgate is a vulnerable location, so patrols have been increased, and we have used hi-tech surveillance equipment. CCTV in Durham has also helped successfully identify offences and offenders.”
Mr May was prosecuted as part of a major anti-poaching operation led by Environment Agency fisheries enforcement officers in the area during 2006, which resulted in five prosecutions.
These include one man being fined a total of £200 and ordered to pay £70 in costs. Another was found guilty of fishing without a valid rod licence on five separate occasions, and another on three separate occasions, with fines and costs for both men exceeding £340.
Initiatives to protect fish have involved Durham City Council, which lead to the creation of a bylaw banning rod fishing from the footpath and road along Framwellgate Waterside. This bylaw has been introduced for the safety of the general public, however if Environment Agency officers see anyone fishing in this area they will forward details of the offenders to the council.
The Environment Agency will always take action against offenders to ensure that salmon and trout stocks are protected.