Anyone who witnesses fish being stolen from rivers and lakes in North East Lincolnshire should report it to the police.
That’s the advice being issued by the council following several reports of fish being taken from the lake at Cleethorpes Country Park.
But although council bosses say they have stepped-up their daily patrols of the borough’s parks, they insist that all such incidents – including attacks on birds and other wildlife – need to be reported, in the first instance, to the police.
Councillor Mick Burnett, portfolio holder for tourism, said: “We take these kinds of incidents very seriously and as we can’t have staff patrolling the parks around the clock, we urge residents who witness such acts to immediately call the police non-emergency number on 101.
“That said, we have increased our daily park patrols to reflect the longer summer hours and we continue to work closely with Humberside Police. Whilst most patrols are visible, we are also operating on a covert basis.
“North East Lincolnshire Council has a responsibility to ensure that the park and wildlife areas are protected and used responsibly by all groups.”
However, anglers at Cleethorpes Country Park – who say they have witnessed several incidents of fish theft – believe the lake needs to be policed more effectively.
They claimed that a group of them had submitted an expression of interest to the council two years ago seeking permission to operate as volunteer bailiffs at the park, but had still not received a formal response.
One of the group, Rick Atkin, 48, of Cleethorpes, said: “We set up a club about two years ago because the council wanted a club to run the angling side of things. There were 12 volunteer bailiffs and we submitted an expression of interest but the last person we were dealing with was made redundant and nobody has made contact with us since February.”
He said that last year he saw one angler with big hooks that would normally be used for sea fishing.
He said: “I fish here and I often speak to dog walkers, who say their dogs find fish that were gutted on the banks.”
Sean Loades, 43, of Cleethorpes, said: “Last year there was a perfectly cut tail on the bank which a fox must have thrown up. No animal had done that.”
Lee Bridgland, 45, of Cleethorpes, said: “Three years ago we were getting seven, eight, nine pike a session. Last year it was just two. That can’t be just because the fish are getting wise to it.”
Tony Booth, 62, of Immingham, who sparked controversy six years ago when he banned foreigners from his fishery at Burton-upon-Stather amid claims they were stealing fish from his waters, said: “It’s getting worse. It needs policing properly and the only people that can police it properly are anglers.
“These lads should be given the job – otherwise you might as well concrete over it.”
Wendy Fisher, assets service manager at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “We’re keen to transfer more facilities to community groups and the angling club’s proposals are currently under consideration.
“We’ll be in touch with them shortly with more details.”