A commercial fisherman was yesterday (30 June, 2008) ordered to pay £2,000 in fines and costs for setting an illegal gill net in the sea off Christchurch in an area used by migrating salmon. The case was brought by the Environment Agency.
On December 15, 2007 Agency officers received a tip-off that a net had been set in the sea off Avon Beach in Christchurch Bay. The use of fixed nets is prohibited in this area to protect salmon and sea trout that regularly pass along the coastline on their way to Christchurch Harbour. After entering the harbour, the fish make their way up local rivers to spawn.
On discovering the net, Agency officers kept it under surveillance until local fisherman Russell Murphy returned by boat to retrieve his catch.
Although no salmon or sea trout were found in the net, Murphy had committed an offence by fishing in what is effectively, a ‘no go’ area for fixed surface nets. On checking the net, officers found it contained a number of sea fish including bass, pollack, mullet and a flounder.
‘Salmon would have been making their way along to coast towards Christchurch Harbour at the time of this offence and would, therefore, have been vulnerable to illegal netting. The offender is a commercial fishermen and should know where he can and where he can’t fish,’ said Stuart Kingston-Turner for the Environment Agency.
Murphy, of Marine Drive West, Barton on Sea, New Milton, Hampshire was fined £1000 by Wimborne magistrates and ordered to pay £1000 costs after pleading guilty to, on December 15, 2007, using an illegal fixed net in tidal waters off Avon Beach, Christchurch Bay, Christchurch contrary to the Salmon & Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 and the Salmon Act 1986.