Angler found guilty of fishing without permission on Norfolk Broad

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An angler who fished without permission on a Norfolk Broad has been found guilty of theft of fishing rights and a public order offence.

Peter Regan, aged 69, of Borrow Road, Lowestoft, appeared at Great Yarmouth Magistrates Court on Friday (20 November) after pleading not guilty to the offences at an earlier hearing. Despite this, Regan admitted during the trial that he had used foul and abusive language’ towards the officers that stopped him.

It follows an incident that happened on 2 January of this year when officers received reports of illegal fishing on Horsey Mere in Norfolk. Following enquiries Regan was discovered fishing from a boat on the Mere during a joint operation organised between the Norfolk Police Broads Beat team and the Environment Agency.

Regan swore at officers as they questioned him and admitted to fishing without permission from the Horsey Estate, who control the fishing rights.

This case demonstrated that even in tidal waters fishing rights can be private, and is seen as a landmark case on the Norfolk Broads. Anglers sometimes refer to the Magna Carta in defence of their actions, but as was demonstrated in court, the Magna Carta was mostly repealed in 1969 by the Statute Law Repeals Act and is therefore no longer a defence for fishing without permission.

Regan received a conditional discharge for a year and was ordered to pay £641.00 in costs including a victim surcharge.

On the same day in January, another angler was also found to be fishing without permission from a boat on Horsey Mere and following an interview at Aylsham Police Investigation Centre, accepted a formal caution.

PC Paul Bassham from the Norfolk Police Broads Beat team said: "We will always act on the information we receive from members of the public in regards to illegal fishing.

"This has been an ongoing problem that effects not only law-abiding anglers but private fishing establishments across the UK. We work closely with our partnership agencies, by conducting joint patrols to investigate any offences being committed.

"Horsey Mere is a nationally important and protected winter wildfowl refuge area, between 1 November and 28 February. Disturbing birds during this period is therefore an offence, so the trust has allowed angling from boats within a designated area, however anglers must obtain a permit before fishing.

"We hope that this result acts as a deterrent to anyone who involves themselves in illegal fishing. It shows that we will take the relevant action and those responsible will be held to account.”

Enforcement team leader, Lesley Robertson from the Environment Agency said: "Our officers undertake a variety of patrols with the Norfolk Police Broads Beat team throughout the year, which are focused on tackling illegal fishing.

"The outcome of this case shows how important it is for anyone with information or intelligence about illegal fishing activities to report them to the Environment Agency Incident Hotline 0800 80 70 60 (24-hours a day) or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

 
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