‘Tangled and distressed’ bream, rudd, perch and a tench trapped by poachers in illegal netting freed
A police and Environment Agency (EA) operation was launched near March to disrupt widespread poaching of bream, rudd, perch and tench from the Old Nene river.
Large numbers of fish were “tangled and distressed” having been caught in illegal netting, said an EA spokesman.
A passer-by who alerted the authorities was praised by the EA who said his quick actions “allowed a swift response - all the fish were released alive, which included 15 bream up to 8lbs, 5 rudd to 2lbs, perch to 1.5lbs and a tench”.
The spokesman said: ““Our team were alerted by the member of public, who is a fisherman himself and working in the area who reported a live incident with suspected offenders on site.
“A large number of fish were tangled and distressed in the illegal net.”
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The EA says large scale fish removal by poachers using nets “is the worst scenario for fisheries as the impacts can be huge.
“Netting is indiscriminate, damages fish, is capable of killing huge numbers and of course is illegal.
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“On this occasion the help of a passing member of the public prevented what could have been a major fish theft and environmental incident”.
The spokesman said: “Netting incidents are our top priority and two of the team were quickly dispatched, while observing social distancing guidance.
“East Cambridgeshire police were contacted for assistance in the hope of helping us search for and apprehend offenders.
“Within 40 minutes of receiving the call the forces Rural Crime Action Team were on site with two police cars, three police officers and a drone in a joint operation”.
The EA said the net was seized and patrols by their officials and Cambridgeshire police were being stepped up to increase the chance of detection.
The spokesman said: “The area was thoroughly searched into the evening on foot and by air – using the drone. “While no offenders were detained the risk to the environment was removed and the illegal activity was disrupted. Thank you to all involved.”
Advice from the EA is to be vigilant to illegal fishing activity and report it to the emergency hotline number on 0800 80 70 60.
The EA says, “it provides us with the best chance to attend and protect fisheries and the environment”.
A police spokesman said: “Our Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT) have a commitment to tackling wildlife crime and we were pleased to work alongside the Environment Agency’s Great Ouse and Fenland Fisheries team late last week to disrupt poaching in Cambridgeshire”.