“We will not prosecute sleeping anglers.” That is the message from the Environment Agency after widespread panic arose following a controversial court case.
Earlier this year, Essex-based rod Greg Holbrow was caught napping while fishing at his local Green Lane Fishery by bailiffs and given a court summons for the crime.
During the trial at Chelmsford Magistrates he failed to lodge a plea and was found guilty of fishing without a rod licence, leaving his rods unattended and failing to provide his name and address upon request. He was ordered to pay a total of £647 in fines and costs.
The move led to anglers raising concerns that the incident could set a precedent, potentially putting thousands of carp and specimen anglers who fish long sessions in danger of facing prosecution.
But the EA have now moved to allay those fears and revealed the exact reasons for the punishment.
A spokesperson for the government body said: “When approached, he was asleep in his van and failed to wake for 15 minutes. The bailiff tapped on his window, said hello and deliberately tripped his bite alarms to rouse him. When Mr Holbrow did awake, he failed to state his name and address to our bailiff, which is also an offence.
“We will not prosecute anglers simply for being asleep when fishing. Many anglers will take a nap but will respond immediately when they have a bite, often with the help of a bite alarm,”
Officials from the Angling Trust approached the EA to help reassure anglers and Fisheries and Enforcement manager Dilip Sarkar is delighted at the news. “It is clear that this angler's conduct was totally unacceptable on every level and got his just desserts,” he said.
“There is clearly nothing for responsible anglers, and carp anglers in particular, to be concerned about, which is as it should be.”