Fish thieves are plumbing new depths of criminality... gill nets are no longer quick enough so now they’re resorting to electrofishing!
The news emerged after an angler was threatened with violence when he stumbled across eight fish rustlers who were ‘stunning’ fish from a Welsh canal in broad daylight.
The angler, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, discovered an old, red Bedford van on the side of a main road containing two swans with their throats cut, plastic drums full of dead fish and a running petrol generator.
Investigating the situation further, the witness found eight fish thieves, two of whom were standing over the canal on a builder’s plank with electrodes in the water, emptying the stretch of fish.
When spotted by the poachers, who had Eastern European accents, he was told if he didn’t go away he would ‘have his throat cut and be chucked into the canal’.
Shropshire Anglers Federation chairman John Roberts is well aware of the poaching problems in the area, having fought a constant battle against illegal angling on his club’s waters.
“I’d encourage all angling clubs to get in contact with their local police and relate this incident to them and warn them of the potential for similar incidents. Police forces need to risk-assess and plan responses. Incidents like this prove that there are criminals out there plundering fish stocks to sell commercially,” he said.
Elsewhere, shortly after the Shropshire incident was reported to Dyfed Powys police, the Environment Agency was contacted by an angler on the Wide Welland in Lincolnshire who had found a gill net full of rotting bream.
While the EA was unable to attend, Angling Times managed to meet up with Pike Angling Club regional organiser Phil Brown who took us to the spot near Crowland where we attempted to remove the illegal device.
“This is the third net I’ve discovered in three years, one of which was a fyke net on the Little Ouse that contained a drowned otter,” said 34-year-old Phil, from Empingham in Rutland.
“There’s obviously still a huge problem with illegal netting and I dread to imagine how many nets are set that we never learn about. I haven’t seen as many Eastern Europeans on the river over the past two winters and suspect it’s because they’ve wised up and are committing these crimes in the spring and summer when there are far fewer anglers about,” he added.