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Immigrant anglers 'destroying our rivers', claims Maidstone councillor Tony Harwood

Fisherman file picture
Fisherman file picture

A poster campaign has been launched to combat the menace of immigrants stealing fish from rivers to take home and eat.

Fishing on rivers, canals and some still waters is illegal in Britain during the coarse fishing close season from March 15 to June 15 to protect the stock.

But Eastern European fisherman have been accused of catching and eating pike, eel and trout from some waterways in Kent.

And instead of putting the pregnant animals back in the water, the migrants have been accused of taking them home - as a free source of food.

The Angling Trust is so concerned it has printed copies of the close season fishing ban in five languages - Polish, Romanian, Lithuanian, Slovakian, and English.

Posters for the national campaign have been put up at popular fishing spots across the country.

One Maidstone councillor claimed the serious damage was being done to the course stocks near his home to satisfy the East European's love of smoked fish.

Tony Harwood, Lib Dem councillor for Maidstone North, said: "It's bad enough getting fish and eating them but doing it when they're full of eggs is even worse.

"I've been picking litter in the River Len for 15 years and I've never seen anything like it. It's getting worse."

In a letter to Maidstone Borough Council and the Environment Agency, he wrote: "At the River Len nature reserve I move on Eastern European [unauthorised] anglers regularly, and it is clear from our conversations that the individuals involved have no concept of licensing, nature conservation or welfare issues - after all why should they, as their home country wetlands do not have the same severe ecological and population pressures and they have very different culinary traditions."

Maidstone councillor Tony Harwood
Maidstone councillor Tony Harwood

Maidstone councillor Tony Harwood has written to the Environment Agency about nusiance anglers

Unlicensed fisherman have been spotted netting the watercourse, line fishing for pike and capturing young creatures for use as live bait in conservation areas

Others have been seen eel fishing and brown trout are reportedly being taken from Loose Stream, Cave Hill, near Maidstone, Kent, in unsustainable quantities.

One Polish fisherman on the River Len nature reserve said he intended to eat what he caught and wasn't aware of the potential ecological damage being caused.

The Angling Trust Voluntary Bailiff Service has launched Operation Clamp Down targeting illegal angling during the coarse fishing close season, in collaboration with the Environment Agency.

It has produced posters in five different languages in a bid to make sure all anglers understand the strict conservation rules.

The Angling Trust Fisheries has launched a poster campaign in several languages to target nuisance fisherman
The Angling Trust Fisheries has launched a poster campaign in several languages to target nuisance fisherman

The Angling Trust Fisheries has launched a poster campaign

Martin Salter, National Campaigns Coordinator for the Angling Trust, said: "Fishing for coarse fish between March 15 and June 15 inclusive on rivers and some still waters and canals is illegal.

"Yet many people still don't seem to be getting the message, as fishing during the close season is one of the most common illegal angling activities in England."

The maximum penalty for fishing without a licence is £2,500, but fishing out of season and other bylaw offences carries a maximum penalty of £50,000.

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