Natural Resources Wales are threatening to step up their legal action against anglers who continue flouting the law after four fishermen were recently convicted of fishing offences.
The four anglers from mid and south Wales were caught committing illegal fishing practices last year by the NRW enforcement officers and were fined a total of £1,879 which included investigation costs and victim surcharges. The offences included fishing without the correct rod licence, using barbed hooks and fishing an illegal bait.
The NRW’s latest warning comes as the authority attempts to uphold and strengthen the bylaws that are in place to protect fish.
“We will continue to pursue offenders and will not hesitate to take enforcement action against the small minority of anglers who commit these offences,” commented Alun Thomas, senior enforcement officer of the NRW.
“Illegal fishing such as these cases undermines NRW’s efforts to make fishing sustainable and enjoyable for most anglers in Wales who fish legally and responsibly.
“Action taken against these four anglers, who seek to exploit wild stocks of fish including salmon and sewin, has to be robust to deter others carrying out illegal angling methods.”
NRW enforcement officers and a Dyfed-Powys police officer caught Nicholas Bonham and Marc Andrew Davies fishing illegally for salmon and sewin on the river Loughor on October 6, 2022.
They were both fishing without a valid migratory rod licence and fishing with a Rapala fishing lure equipped with multiple barbed treble hooks.
Both pleaded guilty to the offences at Swansea Magistrates’ Courts on March 23, 2023.
The two offences cost Bonham a total of £547. He received a discount for early guilty pleas and for buying a migratory rod licence after the incident. Bonham was fined £105, ordered to pay the NRW investigation costs of £400 and was made to pay a victim surcharge of £42.
The court was told that Davies was given several opportunities by NRW to purchase a rod licence, but he chose not to comply with those requests and did not reply to a court summons.
He was found guilty of both offences and must pay a total of £790.
Meanwhile on October 5, 2022, Paul Hughes was seen by an NRW enforcement officer deliberately fishing for migratory salmon and sewin on the River Rheidol with barbed hooks and an illegal bait, namely ‘bunched worms’ when only single worms are permitted.
Hughes pleaded guilty to the offences at Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Courts. He must pay a total of £317. He was fined £166, made to pay £85 NRW investigation costs and a victim surcharge of £66.
The same day, Mark Williams of Dol y Pandy, Capel Bangor, Aberystwyth, was witnessed fishing for migratory salmon and sewin on the Rheidol without a valid rod licence.
Williams pleaded guilty and was fined £100, ordered to pay NRW £85 investigation costs and a victim surcharge of £40.
The NRW aims to increase the leisure fishing activity in Wales, whilst ensuring that all fish stocks are protected for future generations to come.
“Promoting legitimate angling requires the creation of a level playing field for those who buy rod licences and comply with any fisheries byelaws,” added Alun Thomas.
“Preventing damage to even singular potential numbers of fish is crucial to having successful future fish stock populations. These illegal fishing activities can also impact the local angling communities within Wales, which is worth tens of millions of pounds a year to the industry.”