Environment Agency seize 52 illegal fishing devices from region’s rivers

The Environment Agency seized 52 illegal fish traps and nets from river banks across East Anglia. 

The Environment Agency seized 52 illegal fish traps and nets from river banks across East Anglia. - Credit: Environment Agency  

More than 50 illegal fishing devices have been seized from the region’s rivers by the Environment Agency in just eight months.  

Officers retrieved 52 illegal fishing traps and nets from river banks across East Anglia from March to December last year, a sharp rise from 2019.  

Just 30 traps were seized over the course of 2019, sparking a stark warning from the agency following the increase.  

The Environment Agency seized 52 illegal fish traps and nets from river banks across East Anglia. 

The Environment Agency seized 52 illegal fish traps and nets from river banks across East Anglia. - Credit: Environment Agency  

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. 


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“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.” 

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Of the seized traps, 26 were found in Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, 14 in Suffolk and Essex, and 12 in Norfolk. 

The illegal instruments trap eels, crayfish, water voles, otters and coarse fish. They are a significant risk to wildlife and fish stocks. 

Lesley Robertson, Enforcement Team Leader for Essex, Norfolk & Suffolk said: “Traps and nets can often be seen from the river bank, and identified by a rope tied to the bankside. 

“We are very grateful to those who report these illegal traps.  Without that information, illegal traps and nets might still be there causing damage to wildlife.  

The Environment Agency seized 52 illegal fish traps and nets from river banks across East Anglia. 

The Environment Agency seized 52 illegal fish traps and nets from river banks across East Anglia. - Credit: Environment Agency

“We encourage the public to keep their eyes peeled for any suspicious fishing activities and to call us on our incident hotline with details, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. 

“Our officers are regularly out patrolling the river banks and we will not hesitate to take enforcement action where anglers are found to be flouting the rules.” 

There are strict rules when it comes to trapping or fishing for crayfish, eels, salmon, sea trout, lamprey and smelt. 

All sightings of illegal nets or traps must be reported by calling 0800 807060. For more information, visit: www.gov.uk/guidance/permission-to-trap-crayfish-eels-elvers-salmon-and-sea-trout  

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