Pike anglers were urged to follow the PAC’s code of conduct after two high-profile anglers pleaded guilty to trying to smuggle livebaits from the UK to Ireland.

 

Holyhead magistrates heard Nigel Williams and Gary Banks were stopped in May as they boarded a ferry from Holyhead, North Wales, to Ireland.

 

Customs officers found 100 carp, roach and goldfish, in the boot of Williams‚s car, the court was told.

 

Williams, 48, and Banks, 37, were travelling to Ireland for a fishing trip, taking the fish with them for use as bait.

 

The men, both from Wolverhampton, were later charged with exporting live fish without a health certificate.

 

Williams, who did not attend the hearing, entered a guilty plea in a letter to the court. Banks, who attended in person, also admitted the offence.

 

The case against Williams was adjourned until December 21 when he will be sentenced at the same court. Banks was fined £800 and ordered to pay £500 costs.

 

In a statement after the hearing, the Pike Anglers Club of Great Britain

said: “Our code of conduct calls on our members to respect byelaws and not to transfer fish illegally from water to water.

 

“We urge all pike anglers to fish responsibly and not to jeopardise either the waters they fish or the image of pike fishing, at a time when we are coming under increasing scrutiny.

 

“While there are those who would claim activities such as translocating livebaits are commonplace, there have only been a handful of prosecutions involving pike anglers since the translocation of baits without Environment Agency consent was banned.”

 

Earlier Stephen Smith, prosecuting on behalf of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, told the court the transport of live fish without the correct documentation had been banned to prevent the spread of disease.

 

He said the case, which cost more than £5000, had been brought to deter other anglers.

 

„Mr Williams is something of a celebrity angler, he is very high profile in the angling world,‰ he added. „The defendants in this case knew what they were doing. They knew it was not appropriate to take live fish out of Wales to Ireland.

 

“These are two high profile anglers and we must be seen to take these processes seriously otherwise it opens the floodgates for other people.”

 

In a letter handed to the court, Williams said he “deeply regretted” his actions. John Meredith, defending Banks, said his client was a recreational fisherman who was “very sorry” for what he had done.

 

PAC chairman Colin Goodge said: “This is a sorry episode which reflects badly on pike fishing at a time when more than ever, we need to show that we are capable of pursuing our sport responsibly.

 

“British pike anglers have enjoyed the hospitality of the people of Ireland for more than three decades and it does us untold harm when this hospitality is abused, particularly by two prominent anglers who should be setting an example to others.

 

“In view of some of the threats our sport faces nearer home, we would urge all pike anglers – whether they are PAC members or not – to fish responsibly and in accordance with our code of conduct.”

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