A fishing trip to Lincolnshire has landed a man from Manchester with £597-worth of penalties after he was found breaking angling laws.
Mr John Handley of Herristone Road, Manchester, left his rod in the water unattended and was fishing without a licence at Lakeside Fishery in Wragby on June 21 last year.
He was discovered by Environment Agency enforcement officers, who carry out patrols designed to catch illegal anglers in the act – and protect the sport for those who do follow the rules.
Mr Handley was proved guilty in absence at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on March 13, 2017.
He was fined £440 – £220 for each offence – and ordered to pay costs of £127, as well as a victim surcharge of £30, bringing the total penalty to £597.
Adam Basham, Environment Agency enforcement team leader, said: “By leaving his rod unattended, Mr Handley could have injured wildlife, and his refusal to buy a fishing licence harms the future and protection of the sport, effectively cheating the tens of thousands of anglers who do follow the rules.
“We never hesitate to take action against offenders.”
Leaving a fishing rod unattended is an offence under Environment Agency byelaws because of the danger it poses to fish and other wildlife, which can become entangled in the line or swallow the hook.
Anyone who wants to go fishing needs to buy a fishing licence. A full yearly fishing licence costs from just £30 and are available online at www.gov.uk/get-a-fishing-licence, by calling the Environment Agency on 0344 800 5286, or from your local Post Office branch.
Short-term and concessionary licences are also available.
The money from licence sales supports fish, fisheries and fishing, and protects the future of the sport.
A small number of anglers refuse to buy a licence, cheating the sport and their fellow anglers.
For the minority who flout the rules, the most common offence is fishing without a valid licence, which could land them with a fine of up to £2,500 and a criminal conviction.
In 2015/16, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire enforcement officers checked 3,710 licences and reported 73 for fishing illegally, bringing in fines and costs totalling £16,810.
Last year in England, the Environment Agency checked more than 62,000 fishing licences and prosecuted more than 1,900 anglers for rod and line offences, resulting in fines and costs in excess of £500,000.
To help crack down on illegal fishing, the Environment Agency urges people to report suspect activity by calling its incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.