In a prosecution brought by the Environment Agency, John Richard Spaven and Darren Smitheringale, both of Thames Road, Skelton, near Saltburn, admitted using a spear to catch fish after Agency officers discovered the weapon in the boot of their car.
They pleaded guilty to three charges against the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 at Guisborough
The court heard that the pair were spotted by Agency fisheries enforcement officers late at night on December 3 last year at Skelton Beck. They were seen shining a light into the water before putting fish into a bag and placing it in the boot of a nearby parked car.
The pair were approached by fisheries officers, who discovered three spawning fish – a salmon and two sea trout – in the boot of the car, along with a lamp and a long-handled spear.
In interview, Spaven admitted using the home-made spear, which had been fashioned from a broom handle and three welded barbs, and Smitheringale said he had used the lamp to help catch fish. The men offered no defence in court.
After the case, Agency Fisheries Officer Andrew Delaney said: “The use of lamps and spears to catch fish is barbaric and banned under fisheries laws across the country. It was outlawed centuries ago, which says a great deal about just how cruel it is.
“Not only did these two men break those laws, they were caught in the possession of spawning fish which need to be protected so the species survives for future generations.
“Fisheries laws are there to protect and enhance the wildlife populations and ensure the continued enjoyment of angling.”
The Environment Agency was contacted by a member of the public on the back of a high profile campaign in the North East aimed at encouraging people to shop poachers in the run up to the festive period.
Mr Delaney added: “This is a first class example of how much more effective our operations are when we work in partnership with the public. Had we not received that call from a concerned member of the public, many more salmon may have suffered horrendously.”
1. Richard Spaven and Darren Smitheringale were both charged with three separate offences relating to the illegal use of the spear and lamp and the possession of spawning fish. The charges were:
- possession of unclean (ie spawning) trout contrary to Section Two of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975
- using a light for the purpose of taking salmon and trout from Skelton Beck at Saltburn by the Sea contrary to Section One of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975
- using a spear for the purpose of taking salmon and trout from Skelton Beck contrary to Section One of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.