A St Helens man has been prosecuted and fined over £600 for fishing without a license.
Thomas Beard was prosecuted by the Environment Agency for fishing for eels on the River Ribble at Brow Bridge in Brockholes, Preston.
The 53-year-old of Stainton Close, was caught on June 4 while fishing in non-tidal parts of rivers, streams and parts of rivers canalised for navigation purposes, in which fishing is prohibited during the period from March 15 to June 15.
The coarse fish close season restrictions are imposed in order to protect vulnerable spawning fish, helping to safeguard fish stocks for the future. Patrols took place across rivers, streams, drains and specific canals and still waters covered by the coarse fish close season byelaw.
Beard, who was proved guilty in absence at Warrington, was fined £440 and ordered to pay costs of £127.47 as well as a victim surcharge of £44, making the total penalty £611.47.
Senior Fisheries Officer Darren Bedworth said: “We take a really proactive approach to enforcing the coarse fish close season and this angler has ended up with a hefty fine. Our Enforcement Officers patrol through the year to catch anglers fishing illegally and protect the sport for those who do follow the rules.
“Any angler aged 12 or over, fishing on a river, canal or still water needs a licence, which start from £30 for a year. These are available online, at the Post Office or by phone on 0344 800 5386.”
In 2016/17 nationally sales of licences for the 2016/17 season raised over £20 million. Over 63,000 fishing licences were checked by officers around the country and 2,407 people were prosecuted for not fishing legally.
Money from fishing licence sales is invested in England’s fisheries and is used to fund a wide range of projects to improve facilities for anglers including protecting stocks from illegal fishing, pollution and disease; restoring fish stocks through re-stocking; eradicating invasive species; and fish habitat improvements. Rod licence money is also used to fund the Angling Trust to provide information about fishing and to encourage participation in the sport.
To help crack down on unlicensed fishing, the Environment Agency urges people to report illegal activity by calling its incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.