Two men have been handed fines for poaching fish with gill nets on the River Tyne

The Environment Agency caught the men using nets to trap the fish by their gills, which can be extremely damaging to fish stocks

Two men were fined for using gill nets to catch fish on the River Tyne

Two men have been fined for poaching fish with gill nets on the River Tyne.

Ricci John Pike and Philip Edler used the nets to trap the animals by their gills, which can be extremely damaging to fish stocks.

Newcastle Magistrates' Court heard an Environment Agency enforcement officer carried out targeted patrols on July 22 last year.

The officer saw three men in the Haggs Bank area of Wylam setting up two nets just before midnight.

The offenders returned the following day and hauled the nets back in, which had caught salmon and sea trout.

Later that morning, the men were stopped by police on Wylam Wood Road and arrested.

Pike, 34, of Alnwick Street, Wallsend, and Edler, 48, of Wyndham Way, North Shields, pleaded guilty to fishing on the River Tyne at Wylam without a licence.

Both men were fined £80, ordered to pay costs of £100 and a victim surcharge of £20.

The court also ordered for the fishing equipment to be destroyed.

A third man suspected of being involved is due to appear in court later this month.

Environment Agency enforcement team leader in the North East, Dave Edwardson, said: “We take reports of suspected poaching seriously and work closely with the police to take action.

“In this case Edler and Pike were fishing on the River Tyne using nets which are potentially extremely damaging to fish stocks.

“At the time of year in happened, salmon and sea trout are returning to rivers to spawn and protecting returning fish is vital to maintaining a healthy fish population.

“We will continue to work closely with the police and angling clubs to target those fishing illegally and take enforcement action.”

The Environment Agency warned other people caught committing similar offences could face a substantial fine.

To report an incident call 0800 80 70 60.
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