Illegal Elver Fishing Nets Maximum Ban
Two Bridgwater men have both been banned for five years after being caught illegally fishing for elvers on the River Tone in Somerset.
The Environment Agency report:
In addition to the ban David Roberts and Mark Newbury were also ordered to pay a total of £4,000 in fines and costs after being convicted at the end of a two day trial at Taunton Crown Court. Describing the pair as ‘thoroughly dishonest’, the judge warned the men to expect much heavier fines if they ever appeared before him again.
The pair were seen getting out of a Citroen estate car at Hook Bridge on 06 April 2012 accompanied by a third man who later pleaded guilty to illegal fishing. Unknown to the defendants, Agency bailiffs were keeping the bridge under surveillance.
The bailiffs watched as Roberts and the third man removed fishing equipment from the car and started fishing. At one point, Mark Newbury, removed a large searchlight from the vehicle and shone its beam across the fields; bailiffs gained the impression he was acting as a look-out.
As the bailiffs approached the bridge, Roberts and his accomplice abandoned their nets and ran away. The second elver fisherman was soon caught, but Roberts ran into a field and escaped in the darkness. However, he later returned to Hook Bridge cold and soaking wet.
Roberts denied he’d been fishing and said he’d been out for a walk. When asked why he was wet he said he’d ‘been catching a duck.’ Newbury denied involvement and claimed he had been walking his dog. All three men later left in the Citroen estate.
Richard Dearnley, speaking for the Environment Agency said:
“Illegal fishing damages eel stocks, harms the environment and is unfair to law-abiding fishermen. We won’t hesitate to prosecute offenders.”
Appearing before Taunton Crown Court, David Roberts was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs after being found guilty of illegally fishing for elvers and Mark Newbury was fined £500 and ordered to pay £1,500 costs for aiding and abetting. An order was made for the elver nets and equipment to be forfeited and destroyed.
Both men had been previously banned from elver fishing. Newbury’s penalty was increased after it was discovered his income was greater than the figure he had disclosed to the court.
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