By Joe Bill
Anglers focus on cultural differences in bid to protect fish from poachers
Fish watchdogs have raised fears that foreign nationals could destroy river species by illegal poaching.
The Angling Trust has kick started an awareness campaign targeting EU migrants thought to be taking fish from Kent’s rivers.
So concerned about the diminishing numbers of salmon, trout, pike, bream, carp and eel, the group has printed details of the fishing ban in Polish, Romanian, Lithuanian, Slovakian and English.
Maidstone North cllr Tony Harwood believes that the problems can arise with cultural differences as many Polish migrants will have legally fished from rivers in their native country.
Angling Trust PosterHe said: “In the huge pristine wetlands of Poland or Lithuania the environment can sustain the taking for the pot of pike or European eel – the heavily polluted and modified “drains” that rivers have become within our over-crowded county can not.
“Domestic culinary tastes have also changed with the recent influx of migrants from Eastern Europe and the Far East who are culturally attached to eating species that the indigenous population no longer see as a potential meal – freshwater course fish, for example.”
Fish poaching has become an real issue in the county with even pregnant fish being caught and taken away during the closed season- despite the maximum penalty fine of £50,000.
The Environment Agency has even set up a 24-hour hotline for people to contact if they see anything suspicious. Fisheries officer Ben Lord said: “Poaching is regional and often depends on the species available in that area. In the north of England and Wales there are more salmon and sea trout so they are the species that are targeted there.
“In the south-east and Kent you have a broad mixture of fish. The Darent, The Stour and the River Medway support a lot of trout and other coarse fish like bream and carp. More....