A handful of unscrupulous fishermen plundering bass stocks on two Cornish estuaries could soon find their luck has run out!
 
During rough weather a small number of licenced and unlicensed fishermen have been setting illegal nets in the sheltered waters of the Fal and Helford. Both estuaries contain bass nursery areas where it is an offence to fish for bass from a boat at certain times of the year.

The restrictions were introduced to protect young fish.
 
In a new move, the Environment Agency has teamed up with the harbour authorities at St Mawes, Falmouth and Truro, Cornwall Sea Fisheries and the Marine Fisheries Agency in a bid to bring the offenders to book.
 
‘By sharing intelligence with other agencies we are increasing our effectiveness and maximising our chances of detecting illegal fishing in these important bass nursery areas. There are only a small number of rule breakers who deliberately flout the law,’ said Mark Pilcher for the Environment Agency.
 
‘As our intelligence grows we are in a better position to prosecute persistent offenders and seize and destroy their gear.’
 
‘We are keen for the local fishing community to work with us. They understand we are only targeting a minority of fishermen who don’t play by the rules and through their illicit activities are putting local bass stocks at risk,’ said Mark Pilcher.
 
Spells of unsettled and stormy weather has seen an increase in reports of illegal netting this year. Instead of putting to sea, offenders have turned their attention to sheltered estuaries in search of rich (but illegal) pickings.
 
The bass nursery area laws in the Fal and Helford are in force from April 30 to January 1. The Environment Agency is responsible for enforcing sea fishery byelaws on Cornish estuaries and has a regulatory role on marine species such as bass, cockles and prawns.
 
Cornwall is one of the few areas in the country where the Agency has a duty to police regulations relating to seafish and shellfish as well as salmon and sea trout.
 
Members of the public can help by reporting possible illegal netting to the Environment Agency hotline 0800 80 70 60.

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