A rogue fisherman hit with a huge fine for illegally trapping fish in Derby said that he was actually trying to catch lobster.
Zong He was caught putting trays with green twine into the River Derwent near St Mary’s Bridge at 1am.
Environment Agency officers discovered He, who denied fishing for crayfish, but when they searched his vehicle they found fishing equipment.
They also found green twine attached to chicken carcasses on the river nearby that had been used to catch around 20 to 30 crayfish.
During a later interview under caution, He accepted that he had put trays into the water, but had hoped to catch lobster instead.
The Long Eaton man also denied any intention of selling what he had caught and denied that they would be used in the takeaway shop where he works.
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He appeared at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court last Thursday, August 8 and pleaded guilty to fishing without a licence.
In mitigation, He stated that he had been in the country for 22 years and never been any trouble like this before.
He also stated he did not catch anything, but if he did he would have eaten it.
The 48-year-old was ordered to pay a fine of £276, £100 in costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
His total amount to pay is £406.
Speaking after the case, Pete Haslock, enforcement team leader for the Environment Agency in the East Midlands, said: “The case shows how seriously the Environment Agency take these offences and reminds everyone of the importance of having a licence.
“We hope it will provide a deterrent to anyone who is thinking of fishing without a licence.
“All of the money raised from fishing licence sales is used to protect and improve fish stocks and fisheries, benefitting anglers and, for those caught cheating the system, we will always prosecute.”
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This incident happened in September 2018, but his court appearance happened recently.
The Environment Agency says it has since made even more arrests regarding the illegal trapping of crayfish.
Anyone with information about this or any other environmental crime is asked to report it in confidence on 0800 807060.
They can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.