Sunderland anglers claim officials are driving them out of the city

Anthony Wright says he and others have been setting lobster pots along the walls of the Sunderland Piers for years, but has now been told that it is illegal.

Anthony Wright says he and others have been setting lobster pots along the walls of the Sunderland Piers for years, but has now been told that it is illegal.

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ANGLERS are lashing out at what they see as a crackdown on their hobby.

Angling shop owner Andy Rutherford said lovers of the pastime are being driven out of the city.

There are a number of spots where anglers are banned from casting their lines – including the closed Old North Pier, Port of Sunderland and Roker Pier during bad weather.

This has led to them seeking alternative spots, but even these are becoming difficult to access, Mr Rutherford claims.

“Mainly it is the lack of access to the river,” he said.

“Southwick Promenade is no good for anyone at the moment as there is no open access. It’s been like that for a number of years.

“You’re allowed to fish but there is no access.

“At the university, parking used to be free, but it is now £1.40 an hour. A lot of it is now closed off.

“They are mooring boats off Pann’s Bank so we can’t fish from there.

“There is Roker Pier but the river is very poor for older and disabled anglers.

“It just seems a shame there is a mile along the river bank that is inaccessible. Southwick Promenade was closed because of anti-social behaviour, but that is letting them win if you block it off.

“Sunderland is very popular with anglers all over the area, not just from Sunderland but from people outside of the area.”

Anthony Wright became a professional fisherman after leaving school, but after a downturn in the industry, he now catches lobsters for his family to eat.

But he said his 20-year hobby has been brought to an end by an order from bosses at the Port of Sunderland.

Mr Wright, of Newington Court, Monkwearmouth, found a slip of paper attached to his lobster pots telling him Port of Sunderland bylaws meant he could not drop them in the harbour.

He said: “I’m only doing it for a hobby and I put 10 pots down with my brother Ashley.

“We put the pots down and came the next day, when we caught three.

“The note went on the same day we put them in. I have fished since I was 15, when I was a commercial fisherman.”

Coun John Kelly, of Sunderland City Council, added: “As with any city or area that has a strong sea and maritime connection, the city council has an ongoing dialogue with Sunderland’s angling community.

“We’re working with anglers to look at the potential for identified fishing points along the river corridor and consultation on the future of the Old North Pier, which anglers themselves know was a safety risk.

“The city council continues to support many different leisure and cultural, groups, not just anglers, in what are very difficult financial circumstances.”

Captain Kevin Ullah, Sunderland’s harbour master, said: “Although it has been practice to set lobster pots in and around the harbour entrance, this cannot continue on safety grounds.

“Lines attached to fishing markers can foul boat propellers, requiring deployment of maritime search and rescue assets and placing lives at risk.

“During heavy weather pots can be dragged into the navigation channel causing a hazard to commercial shipping.”

Twitter: @sunechochief