Fisheries enforcement officer with some of the illegal traps he has seized image Open Government Licence v3.0

52 illegal nets and traps seized during the pandemic

The Environment Agency has seen an increase in the amount of illegal fishing devices found along East Anglian river banks. In just nine months, from March 2020 to December 2020, 52 illegal fishing traps and nets were retrieved.

These figures show an increase compared to 2019 where a total of 30 traps were seized across East Anglia over the course of the whole year.

In Bedfordshire, three nets/traps were found; two on the River Great Ouse near Priory Park and one on the River Ivel near Biggleswade

The illegal instruments trap eels, crayfish, water voles, otters and coarse fish. The Environment Agency said that they are a significant risk to wildlife and fish stocks.

Ian Hirst, fisheries team leader for Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, said:

“Despite COVID-19 our work to protect wildlife and the environment has remained, while observing social distancing rules.

“We would like to thank the members of the public who reported these devices to our incident hotline number 0800 80 70 60.

“Also, a special thank you to the agencies and river groups who have helped us recover some of the illegal nets and traps.

“We urge the public to report all sightings of these instruments to our incident hotline number so we can investigate.”

There are strict rules when it comes to trapping or fishing for crayfish, eels, salmon, sea trout, lamprey and smelt. You would need an Environment Agency licence to do so.

All sightings of illegal nets or traps need to be reported to 0800 807060 so the Environment Agency can investigate.