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 Fisheries officers seize illegal traps on Tideway

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Posts : 490
Join date : 2009-12-27

PostSubject: Fisheries officers seize illegal traps on Tideway   Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:37 pm

19th October
Environment Agency fisheries enforcement officers have seized three illegal nets on the tidal River Thames in Greater London and Kent.

Officers on a river patrol today (Tuesday) uncovered the nets in the Barking, Bow and Greenwich areas. Among the nets found was an unattended gillnet, which can trap fish and wildfowl, and two homemade traps.

This latest find follows the discovery of 17 illegal traps at Greenhithe, Kent, on Saturday October 9, which were seized by officers following a number of calls from river users and the public.

Routine patrols are carried out on the Thames estuary as the Environment Agency enforces legislation to protect fish stocks. This includes a legitimate eel net fishery licensed and regulated by the Environment Agency which stretches up to Tower Bridge. This fishery has developed as water quality in the Thames has improved.

European eel stocks are at a historic low and continue to decline. Loss of habitat and barriers to migration are believed to be the main causes for this decline in England and Wales.

The Environment Agency wants to ensure eel fisheries continue to be sustainable, but also that they do not increase pressure on stocks.

Carl Rasey, an Environment Agency fisheries enforcement officer, said: “These discoveries are disappointing, as legitimate eel netsmen respect the rules.

“Whoever has set these traps is in breach of an emergency close season and has also allowed them to dry out, which is a separate offence. Whilst these traps are primarily set for eels, they often catch a range of other species which will die if the traps are left exposed at low tide.

“Eel populations are declining across Europe but if we want to ensure that Thames eel fisheries continue to be sustainable then this sort of irresponsible behaviour is unacceptable. We would urge anyone who sees suspicious-looking traps to contact us immediately.”

There are 15 individuals which are currently licensed to use nets or traps to take eels in the tidal Thames. A condition of the licence is that the eel fishermen send in catch-returns detailing what they have caught during the year. The Environment Agency uses this and other data to regulate the levels of exploitation of this valuable and totally wild resource.

If anyone sees suspicious-looking fish traps they should call the Environment Agency on our emergency hotline 0800 807060.

To comply with EU regulations, the Environment Agency has introduced a close season for 2010 netting and trapping eel and elver. These are between 1 October and 31 March for eel fishing and 26 May and 14 February for elver fishing. Someone fishing in the close season could face a stiff penalty, up to a maximum of £5,000. They may also be banned from fishing for at least a year, which has happened on several occasions this year.

Although there is no national close season for fishing for eel by rod and line, all rod-caught eel must be returned alive to the water. Anyone who catches and removes eel by rod and line faces a significant fine.
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Steve Holmes

Posts : 2435
Join date : 2010-01-28

PostSubject: Re: Fisheries officers seize illegal traps on Tideway   Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:56 pm

As we've said before, we moan the EA don't come round enough to check licenses but it's more important they find illegal netting and longline operations as the potential fish loss there is far greater.
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