It’s time to tackle the fish poachers

Boston and District Angling Association members, president Brian Balderson, left, and bailiff Wayne Coulson, at the notice board on Horncastle Road, Boston. GG
Boston and District Angling Association members, president Brian Balderson, left, and bailiff Wayne Coulson, at the notice board on Horncastle Road, Boston. GG

BOROUGH residents are being urged to report any suspicious activity along Boston’s waterways following concerns about fish poaching.

Local anglers say they are encountering poachers and unlicensed fishermen on a weekly basis.

“There is definitely a big problem in this area with poaching and people taking fish for the table or to stock other lakes,” said Barbara Clifton, secretary of Boston and District Angling Association (BDAA).

“If people keep taking the fish like this it will have an effect on the fish stocks.”

The association, which has more than 1,000 members, is now urging people in the area to keep an eye out and report poaching activity to the Environment Agency (EA).

Anglers must have a valid rod licence, the correct tackle and not kill fish or remove them permanently from the water.

The only exception is for eels – for which there must be written permission from the EA to remove them.

As the BDAA rent the majority of waterways in Boston, anglers must also have membership or a day ticket.

BDAA president Brian Balderson explained: “Our club rules state that no fish are to be taken from our waters. But it seems it’s the big fish they are mainly taking – and these are the breeding stock which take years to get to that size.”

Two methods typically used by poachers are leaving nets in the water or illegal lines strung across the river with several hooks attached.

BDAA secretary and treasurer Barry Mallett said one tactic illegal poachers have reportedly been using is wearing official-looking luminous jackets and taking fish during the day to avoid arousing suspicion. “Some of them do these things in daylight, bold as brass,” said Mr Mallett.

BDAA bailiff Wayne Coulson said: “We have had several incidences of people stealing fish and not adhering to the rules. Through the summer this happens on a daily basis, and we are often encountering the same faces – so they know the rules, they are just choosing not to follow them.”

Mr Coulson said he has noticed a drop in the number of large carp in the area over the last year, which he added may be a result of poaching.

The association has notice boards in place at most popular fishing spots in the area, with warning signs and information from the EA – along with multi-lingual posters provided by The Angling Trust.

These multi-lingual posters and leaflets can be downloaded from the trust’s website.

Chico Winterton, regional organiser from the Pike Anglers Club (PAC), said: “It would seem that many do know the law and flout it as the situation is so poorly policed.” He added: “Anglers are rightly becoming more and more angry.”

The EA received about 160 calls reporting illegal fishing in Lincolnshire last year.

Environment manager David Hawley said: “Taking fish illegally causes a loss of sport for other anglers and is a financial burden on fishery owners.

“We work with police and other agencies to deal with illegal fishing and will not hesitate to prosecute those caught breaking the law.”

He concluded: “It is important that people continue to let us know if they see anything suspicious and the more information they can give us, the more chance we have of identifying law breakers, but people should not put themselves at any risk in doing this.”

l If you suspect poaching or illegal fishing activity call the EA’s emergency hotline on 0800 80 70 60.