The Environment Agency is working hard to reduce fish thefts, illegal stocking and disease transfer in Hampshire. The latest initiative was to tag carp in a lake near Denmead which have been the target of thieves.
There have been a number of incidents of fish theft at the fishery in the last 12 months. Hampshire Fisheries officers pitt (passive integrated transponding tag) tagged the fish yesterday in a bid to deter thieves from stealing the fish and stocking them in other waters. The tags will enable fisheries officers to accurately identify fish which originated from the water concerned.
Carp are very popular with anglers all over the country and attain large sizes when kept under the right conditions in the wild. They can attract great financial rewards and cases of carp theft and illegal stocking have risen in recent years. Paul Newman, Fisheries Officer for the Environment Agency said: “One of our major concerns is the removal of fish from one water and stocking them in another. This is illegal and can spread diseases, putting not only the carp but also the other fish species and their habitat at risk.”
Under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act, Environment Agency fisheries officers have the power to arrest and prosecute any one who is caught stealing or restocking fish. Paul warns: “Our officers are patrolling hotspots on a regular basis, and anyone found fishing stealing and restocking can face arrest, seizure of equipment, prosecution and fines of up to £2,500 pounds.”
The Environment Agency is able to do work to protect and enhance fisheries through the funding received each year from rod licence sales.