A Dorset fisherman was today ordered to pay £2,000 in fines and costs after being caught using a net to illegally catch sea trout and netting undersized fish between West Bay Harbour and Eype’s Mouth, near Bridport. The case was brought by the Environment Agency.

On July 21, 2006 the Agency was carrying out routine fisheries patrols off the coastal area of West Bay when they saw a fishing boat laying two nets. The floats on the net were clearly visible on the surface.

Local fishermen are fully aware that during the month of July, large amounts of sea trout and salmon congregate in this area before entering the rivers along this coastline before making their way up the River Brit to spawn.

Any sea trout caught in nets in this area must be immediately returned to the water.

The officers positioned themselves on a nearby cliff and saw two men using a landing net to lift a large silver fish abroad their boat while pulling in two nets containing lots of fish.

The vessel was later boarded and its two-man crew formally cautioned and questioned. Nigel Collins, of Apple Garth, 109 West Bay, Bridport, Dorset, admitted setting the nets and landing 16 sea trout many of which were undersize.

He told Environment Agency officers that he knew that he should have thrown the fish back into the sea.

‘Nigel Collins has been associated with the fishing industry for many years and by his own admission he takes a great interest in conservation. He knew what he was doing was wrong and has said he regretted what happened,’ said Stuart Kingston-Turner for the Environment Agency.

‘Offences of this nature have the potential to cause significant loss to the salmonoid populations in many rivers. The area of West Bay is known to hold large numbers of salmonoids at this time of year before they migrate to their spawning rivers.’

Nigel Collins was today fined £600 and ordered to pay £1,400 costs by Weymouth magistrates after pleading guilty to fishing without a licence contrary to Section 27 (a) of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975. He also admitted taking twelve undersized migratory trout contrary to Section 211 (3) of the Water Resources Act 1991.

Members of the public can report incidents by calling the Environment Agency’s free 24 hour hotline 0800 80 70 60.

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