Sunderland man in court over illegal fishing

The River Wear.

The River Wear.

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A Sunderland man has been sentenced after being caught using illegal fishing nets on the River Wear.

Lee Burton, 41, of Buttermere Street, Leechmere, was given a three-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £500 legal costs.

All of his equipment was also forfeited and will be destroyed following the Environment Agency investigation.

He appeared at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, September, 17, where he pleaded guilty to four offences of fishing with a gill net without a licence.

Acting on behalf of the Environment Agency, solicitor Simon Crowder told the court that on three occasions during September 2014, and one in October the same year, Burton was seen using a gill net to catch salmon and migratory trout at the River Wear at Low Southwick.

He was arrested by Environment Agency officers both on September 29, and October 19, following enforcement operations.

The net was recovered on October 20 with two dead migratory trout in it.

The Environment Agency’s Dave Edwardson said: “Gill nets are a destructive method of fishing designed for taking significant quantities of large fish.

“Given their impact on fish stocks, their use is very limited and requires a licence.

“Burton’s actions could cause serious damage to fish stocks and ruin the sport for legitimate anglers ad future generations.

“We’ll continue to carry out enforcement to target those using illegal and potentially damaging fishing methods.”

If anyone thinks they have seen any illegal fishing, they should phone the Environment Agency’s 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 807060 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

All income from rod licence sales is used to fund Environment Agency work to protect and improve fish stocks and fisheries, including improving habitats for fish and facilities for anglers, tackling illegal fishing and working with partners to encourage people to give fishing a go.

Rod licences can be bought online and at the Post Office.