Dorset Pier Poacher Brought To Court

A fisherman who fixed an illegal net to a Dorset pier was today ordered to pay £815 in fines and costs in a case brought by the Environment Agency.

Ah Chan claimed he was out to catch mullet when he set a monofilament gill net at Lake Pier, Hamworthy in Poole Harbour. One end of the net was fixed to the pier by a rope and the other tied to a wire gabion on the shore.

The use of fixed nets is prohibited in Poole Harbour between April 1 and September 30 to protect migrating salmon and sea trout. The byelaw is enforced by the Environment Agency.

Acting on a tip-off, an Agency bailiff arrived in Hamworthy at 5.20 am on August 30, 2007 and found the net stretched along the side the pier. The tide was ebbing and the net fully visible on the beach. It was still dark. A little over an hour later the bailiff observed a man retrieving the net from the pier.

He stopped and questioned Ah Chan who said he was only fishing for mullet – not salmon. He claimed someone had told him there were ‘lots of mullet around.’ He had set the net on the previous high tide.

Seizing the illegal net, the bailiff told Chan he would be reported for a fishing offence.

‘Monofilament gill nets are virtually invisible and pose a serious risk to migrating salmon and sea trout as they pass through coastal waters such as Poole Harbour on their way to local rivers to spawn. It is important fishermen are fully aware of byelaws and only use nets at the relevant time of the year,’ said Stuart Kingston-Turner for the Environment Agency.

Appearing before East Dorset magistrates sitting at Wimborne, Chan, of East Street, Blandford, Dorset was fined £400 and ordered to pay £415 costs after pleading guilty to, on or about August 30, 2007, placing a fixed net in tidal waters at Lake Pier, Hamworthy, Poole Harbour contrary to the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 and the Salmon act 1986.