Three North East men received a six month community order and an electronically tagged three month curfew at Hexham Magistrates’ Court, after pleading guilty to the illegal poaching of fish from the River Tyne.
John Rogers, of Polmuir Road, Sunderland, Scott Rogers of Knott Memorial Flats, North Shields and Peter Bell, of Eldon Street, Wallsend, were also ordered to each pay costs of £150 to the Environment Agency, which brought the case.
Prosecuting for the Environment Agency, Helen Ferguson told the court that on 9 August 2006, the three men were seen by Environment Agency fisheries enforcement officers to be using an unlicensed net in the River Tyne, at the confluence upstream of Hexham.
They were seen using the net for a period of two hours after 10pm, where they took five migratory fish before leaving the scene. They left by car and were later stopped by Police officers and the Environment Agency on the A69 in possession of the fish and net. They were found to have a range of poaching equipment in the vehicle.
They were arrested and subsequently charged with using an unlicensed instrument under Section 27(a) of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975. The court was told that the market value of the fish taken was a maximum £600.
The magistrates recognised that this was a deliberately planned operation, was financially motivated, and was significantly serious to warrant a community order.
Speaking after court, Kevin Summerson, fisheries enforcement team leader for the Environment Agency, said: “The community order and tagged curfew imposed by the Magistrates is a first for this type of poaching and highlights the potential environmental damage poaching can cause.
“It is not just the monetary value of these fish that is of concern because this incident alone has caused the loss of over 10,000 salmon eggs to this years natural breeding cycle. We will always aim to prosecute cases of poaching and shall maintain our efforts on all of the rivers in the North East Region.”
Each were sentenced to a six month community order, with a curfew requirement for three months from 9pm until 6am. They were also told to forfeit and destroy their equipment and pay costs of £150 each.
In mitigation, the defendants entered an early guilt plea.