SEVERAL readers have been in touch following last week’s column about illegal fishing on our stretch of the Thames – and the one thing that most of you have told me is that it appears to be people of eastern European origin who are ignoring the rules.
Peter Robertson, who lives on Sunbury Court Island, reports that one man has been arriving on the bank just downstream from Sunbury Lock twice a day to fish opposite his house.
“He rides his bike down the towpath, sets up his rod and regularly takes 25-30lbs of fish out of the river,” Peter said.
“He doesn’t have any of the right gear and he just puts the fish in a black plastic bag and cycles off when he’s finished.”
Peter, who has lived in the area for seven years, went across to remonstrate with the man who gave him a mouthful of abuse in a language with which he wasn’t familiar and ignored all requests to stop taking quantities of fish from the river.
“I saw him land what must have been a 25lb carp recently and he just stuffed it into a bag and went off – it’s a cruel way to treat fish.
“I’ve called the Environment Agency five or six times but they don’t do anything,” he said. “I’ve been given two incident numbers and the one time somebody called me back they said they would have a bailiff in the area shortly who would check to make sure the chap was doing everything by the book – but nothing’s happened. I really think they should do something to stop this.”
It’s a similar story down further down the river, apparently. Karen Streeter from West Molesey takes her dog for a walk along the towpath early each morning and she says there are two gentlemen who she believes are Polish who regularly fish along that stretch.
“I normally take the dog out between 7.30 and 9am and they are usually there. They drink beer and have one of those instant barbecue things and when they catch fish they just cook it and eat it right there. Then they go off leaving all their empty beer cans and burnt out barbecues beside the river – it’s just not right.
“Maybe that kind of behaviour is all right in their country but they shouldn’t be allowed to do that here. My husband is a fishermen and he says they are badly depleting the fish stocks. I’m a bit wary about arguing with them in case they turn nasty but I really think the Environment Agency ought to be putting a stop to this kind of thing,” Karen added.
I’ve also had calls from two other people who didn’t want to leave their names telling similar stories. I’m still waiting to hear back from the Environment Agency with their views on this matter but I’ll continue to pass on information from readers if you keep letting me know the scale of this problem.