Environment Agency seizes deadly fish traps in the North East

Officers from the Environment Agency are targeting illegal fishing activity in the North East’s rivers and ponds.

By David Sedgwick
Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 8:00 am
Enforcement officers and traps seized as part of Operation Creel.
Enforcement officers and traps seized as part of Operation Creel.

Enforcement officers have seized more than 20 illegal fish traps and other equipment in the past three months in the North East, most of which were found on the River Blyth.

The work is part of the Environment Agency’s North East crackdown ‘Operation Creel’ that aims to protect species threatened by our changing climate; the white clawed crayfish and European eel.

Members of the public have reported illegal practices including crayfish trapping and fish theft, helping authorities to track the culprits.

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Some of the traps seized as part of Operation Creel.

Traps can prove deadly for river mammals including otters who may get stuck and drown after following prey.

Native white clawed crayfish are in decline in the North East due to invasive American signal crayfish.

David Shears, Environment Agency Senior Fisheries Enforcement Officer, said: “I’d like to urge people to contact the Environment Agency if they witness any signs of illegal activity.

“Climate change is putting many of our native species at risk and we need to protect habitats where they thrive.

“It’s a serious crime to set these hazardous traps and horrific to see evidence of otters having drowned, as well as the other ecological impacts we risk.

"We are on the ground, remaining vigilant and will act on all intelligence we receive.”

Traps used to take fish in England must be authorised by the Environment Agency and be safe for other wildlife.

People fishing illegally or using illegal traps can expect to be prosecuted and face a substantial fine.

Report any illegal activity to the Environment Agency on 0800 807060 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.