Police and anglers are combining their efforts to fight against illegal fishing which has grown much worse in recent years.
The problem has affected Grantham waters but is a growing national problem. Fish stocks are being stolen by people who will eat the fish or sell them on for big profits.
Pc Jonathan Smyth, of Grantham Police, has joined forces with the Grantham Angling Association to try and reduce the number of fish stolen from local waters.
Pc Smyth, himself a keen angler, says illegal fishing is a major problem and the Lincolnshire force is determined to crack down on the crime. He says nets used by criminals have been found which have been used to catch fish, and more barbaric practices have been uncovered such as the use of a long line with many hooks thrown across waters to catch lots of fish in one go. In this case the fish are clearly going to be despatched and end up on someone’s table.
Grantham AA fishes five areas of water including Denton Reservoir, a stetch of Grantham Canal and the fishing ponds in Queen Elizabeth park.
Pc Smyth said: “Grantham AA have reported a lot of incidents in the past to us. It’s happening more and more and we cannot ignore it. Prevention is better than detection. Some people need educating and need to know what they are doing in wrong. There are those who know exactly what they are doing. The worst case scenario is prosecution.”
Waters have to be regularly restocked because of falling numbers and to prevent inbreeding. This costs thousands of pounds. Denton Reservoir is being restocked this year at a cost of £3,500.
Jeff Mawhood, honorary secretary of Grantham AA, said people needed to understand they need a rod licence and a permit to fish legally. He said: “Over the past four years illegal fishing has increased. There are people out there who know what they are doing is illegal.
“They are predominantly fishing at night.”
The association has numerous signs near its waters warning people against illegal fishing. Signs now include warnings in numerous foreign languages aimed at immigrants who are unaware of UK laws.
A regular angler at the Queen Elizabeth ponds, aged 74, said the number of fish there had dropped off significantly in the last three years. He said: “There are nowhere near the number of big fish there were a few years ago.”
He said few people fished in the park any more, whereas several years ago they would be queuing up, knowing they could catch lots of fish.
l For more information on Grantham Angling Association go to www.granthamaa.co.uk