Illegal netsman caught by Environment Agency

Environment Agency News Release

Devon fisherman Anthony Eastlake was today ordered to pay £200 in court costs after being caught fishing illegally with a net at Wembury. The case was brought by the Environment Agency.

Wembury Bay is the migration channel for salmon and sea trout coming in from the sea and entering the River Yealm to spawn. The River Yealm is presently failing its conservation limit for salmon. This means that the number of adult salmon returning to spawn is below the minimum required to maintain a sustainable population.

As this is a sensitive area it is illegal to fish using fixed surface nets as these trap the returning salmon on their way to spawn.

On August 20 2006, a member of the public reported to the Environment Agency that he had seen a man set a net from a green boat within Wembury Bay and then return to the beach.

The Environment Agency investigation led to Anthony Eastlake, whose fishing equipment was then seized.

When questioned by Environment Agency officers Anthony Eastlake admitted using the nets found in the bay to catch fish. He said he intended to take two lobster pots across Wembury Bay and lay them near to HMS Cambridge, which is approximately one kilometre to the west of the beach.

‘The Agency uses different approaches in the way it responds to illegal netting. Depending on the area, surveillance can be used to watch for when the offenders return,‘ said Mark Jacob for the Environment Agency.

‘The nets used hang like invisible curtains and indiscriminately catch all fish that swim into them. They eventually die even when released due to the nature of the injuries sustained.
The Agency's policy is to prosecute all those who fish in this way.'

‘As well as enforcing the law, we are keen to work with the local fishing community. Most local fishermen have now changed their fishing methods and have demonstrated that fish can be caught in a way that complies with the law and protects salmon and sea trout,' added Mark Jacob.

Anthony Eastlake, of 3 Crossways, Wembury, Devon, was today given a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £200 costs by Plymouth magistrates after pleading guilty to using an illegal net in tidal waters, namely Wembury Bay, contrary to Section 6(1) and Schedule 4 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975, as amended by Section 33 of the Salmon Act 1986.