As if there were not enough arguments in Brussels at the moment, our deep sea fishermen have been clashing with French scallop fishermen off the coast of France but in unregulated waters. Happily, they have reached agreement now but not before the dispute threatened to escalate.
It all reminded me of the importance of coarse fishing in this part of the country. Lake fishing seems ever-popular and large sums are paid for the right to fish from the banks of the Trent. It was always said that coarse fishing was the largest participant sport in the country; an entirely credible claim.
Fishermen have a self interest in ensuring that fish stocks are maintained or improved and thus the season for fishing is regulated. Traditionally this means that no fishing is permitted within a 3 month period from the middle of March to the middle of June. This is designed to cover the spawning periods of the fish.
Of course, the vast majority of fishermen (for some reason, of course, fishermen are invariably men!) respect the close season for what it is. Equally there are those who inevitably push at the boundaries and flout the law. Not only does the Environment Agency actively pursue those who fish illegally but it also ensures that the full glare of publicity is focused on the miscreants.
The spotlight has fallen on cases in Hull Magistrates Court this summer where three anglers have been punished for illegal fishing. The fines are not inconsiderable, ranging from £270 to £440 plus orders for costs and a victim surcharge. An expensive pastime! Interestingly, all three were caught by Enforcement Officers on a boat patrol on the River Tees.
Undoubtedly, these cases were small fry compared to the so called scallop war but the publicity they received was pitched to ensure wide coverage and to deter others next Spring!