The Environment Agency will make a new addition to its fight against fish crime next week, when the ‘Shearwater’ enforcement boat is officially named by Sir John Harman, chairman of the Environment Agency.

 

The new enforcement boat will operate up to six miles offshore between Berwick-upon-Tweed and the Humber, and will also cover all tidal rivers in its patrols to protect stocks of salmon and sea trout.

 

Named after the offshore seabird, the Shearwater replaces the former ‘Hurricane’ enforcement boat, which was proving to be too small to hold necessary equipment that the job entails. The new larger boat also means that it can remain at sea for longer periods and can hold more crew.

 

The boat will be primarily used to police the licensed salmon fishery off the east coast and tackle poaching of salmon and sea trout, but will also aid marine monitoring and survey work.

 

Shearwater is a 7.6 metre rigid inflatable boat, manufactured by Avon inflatables in South Wales. These boats are also used nationally by police forces, search and rescue, law enforcement and coastguards.

 

Philip Swaile, special enforcement officer at the Environment Agency said: “Poaching on rivers can have a massive impact on the actual number of salmon and sea trout that return each year to spawn so this new enforcement boat is essential to our work to protect the region’s rivers and wildlife.

 

“We have equipped the boat with state-of-the-art radar and will be able to respond rapidly to reports of illegal fishing as well as carrying out routine patrols. Our message is clear -poachers beware – we will catch you if you are fishing illegally.”

 

The enforcement boat will be officially christened with spring water from the source of the Tyne on Wednesday 18 October on The Quayside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

 

Prosecutions for serious fishing crimes have more than doubled in the last four years in England and Wales, with 79 cases in 2005/06 bringing almost £60,000 in fines and court costs.

 

If members of the public have information about any possible incidents of illegal fishing, they are requested to phone the Environment Agency’s 24-hour incident hotline in confidence on 0800 807060. 

 

Sir John Harman is on Tyneside to address the 15th International Salmonid Conference which has been organised by the Association of Rivers Trusts at the Baltic Arts Centre on October 17-20.

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