THE growing menace of gill netting has been illustrated by the discovery of a huge trap filled with dead specimen fish.

River Wye canoeist and angler Jet Moore was leading a group on a four-day Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme trip when he spotted the illegal net near Bridge Sollers in Herefordshire.

Jet, from Llandyssul, Carmarthenshire, said: “The net was strung across the river tied to a tree on both banks.

“That short stretch is particularly full of trees and is fairly inaccessible although fishing is very popular generally in the area.

“It was sad to see so many large dead fish in the net. There must have been about 15, mainly barbel up to double-figures, of which two or three were still alive.

“I cut the live ones out and released them and they seemed to swim off allright. From the way one looked partially decomposed the net could have been there for a week.

“Sometimes its easier to see nets in the water from a boat than it is from the bank although I hadn’t noticed anything when we passed by three days previously.

“I cut the net from the tree on one side and called the Environment Agency who were very responsive. We had to leave but I gave my number so I could help direct them to the site if necessary.

“They also rang me back to make sure I knew it had been cleared. I have seen gill nets in rivers before but never on the Wye which I use regularly,” added the member of the Wales Canoe Board.

River Wye and nets taken seriously by EA

Dave Throup, area fisheries manager of the EA commented: “We had to launch an operation to remove a 30 metre illegal net on the River Wye in Herefordshire this afternoon.

“Sadly many fish were already dead including some very big barbel and a metre-long salmon. It was highly irresponsible thing to do and represents a danger to all wildlife as well as pets and canoeists,” he concluded.

An EA Press officer said: “Gill nets are illegal and pose a significant risk to fish and other wildlife. We take illegal fishing very seriously and anyone fishing illegally can expect to be prosecuted and face a substantial fine.

“Over the last 12 months we received 21 substantiated reports of illegal nets and the he offence is unauthorised fishing with a maximum fine of £50,000.

“We track criminals on an intelligence led basis using information gathered by ourselves, the police and other partners and reports from the public. We urge anyone to report illegal fishing to 0800 807060.”

Since the incident many stretches of the River Wye have closed to fishing by anglers due to disturbing  low summer water levels.

If you fancy a crack at the river, we recommend you watch this video below with Mail columnist Steve Collett and a River Wye expert and guide, Adam Fisher.

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