North Wales Weekly News Net Theft Follow Up

The following is a copy of the follow up article about the stolen nets, taken from the “NORTH WALES WEEKLY NEWS” to whom we are grateful.
Poaching in River Conwy is rife according to local fisherman
Jul 14 2011 by Mari Jones, North Wales Weekly News

POACHING salmon in the River Conwy is rife, according to local anglers, and could be losing the economy thousands of pounds every year.

A number of people contacted the Weekly News following last week’s story on how Conwy mussel man Geoffrey Hughes had his fishing nets stolen.

The nets, worth around £1,000, have never been recovered.

One local fishermen, who did not want to give his name, said: “I believe Geoffrey’s nets have been cut to size and are being used in Dolgarrog, as it’s the most narrow part of the river to illegally net salmon.

“A lot of these people who are doing this are jobless, and they sell the fish to hotels for cash in hand.

“It goes on at night, and the water bailiffs who are supposed to be protecting the river never seem to catch anyone.

“They are causing so much damage.”

Allan Cuthbert, founder of the Campaign for the Protection of Welsh Fisheries, commented: “Now is the time that poachers start using these stolen nets to illegally steal salmon and sea trout from our rivers.

“Both these fish species provide a massive contribution to the Welsh economy, especially the rural areas, and they are also registered as endangered, yet Environment Agency Wales has insufficient funds to provide adequate protection from illegal activity, despite being obliged to do so under EU regulations.

“There’s an awful lot of apathy in Wales, and it’s a crying shame as Scotland is making millions out of salmon fishing, and we should be doing the same here.

“I understand there are only six water bailiffs in the whole of North Wales policing the hundreds of miles of rivers, and they work in pairs so effectively there’s only three.

“Fish numbers are going down horrendously, there should be a call to arms before it’s too late.”

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “We investigate all reports of illegal fishing and carry out regular patrols in the area.

“We use the information we receive to target our enforcement activities.

“Illegal fishing damages salmon and sea trout stocks, impacts on local fishermen and harms the local economy.

“We also warn hotels and other fish retail outlets that buying salmon and sea trout from an unknown source is illegal.

“Only fish with official Environment Agency tags, caught by licensed netsmen, can be bought and sold.

“If any hotelier receives fish from an illegal source they can be prosecuted.

“If anyone sees any illegal fishing or witnesses the sale of untagged fish they should call 0800 80 70 60.”

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