Anglers’ fury after a gang of Romanians illegally plunder lakes of prized carp – and eat them rather than throw them back
- Up to twenty men steal from Forest of Dean in Gloucester shire on ‘daily basis’
- ‘Repeat offenders’ who steal prized fish flaunt their catches on Facebook
- Every angling club in UK suffering same problem and now must raise fish stocks
Tom Payne For The Daily Mail
Illegal: One of the fishermen posted this photo on social media
Romanians have been illegally plundering prized carp from lakes and boasting about it on social media, anglers claim.
They say up to 20 men have been seen stealing the fish from pools in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire before flaunting their catch on Facebook.
They are ignoring multilingual signs telling them to throw fish back into the water, instead of taking them home to eat.
The Royal Forest of Dean Angling Club says it is a growing problem across the country, with illegal fishermen occasionally becoming violent when confronted.
Regular anglers have now been made aware of Facebook posts that show two offenders proudly posing with dead carp.
In one photo shared on Facebook on June 9, a man grins next to a row of eight carp laid out in his kitchen. It will cost the angling club £2,000 to replace them.
In another image, a man poses next to Lightmoor Pool in Cinderford, Gloucestershire, with a common carp dangling from his fingers. Adrian Lane, 55, the angling club’s water bailiff, said he and other members recognised both men as repeat offenders in the area.
He added: ‘This problem has been going on for about five years but it’s gradually getting worse. We have noticed a reduced stock of fish in our lakes. These Romanians and Poles are exchanging pictures of their catches on social media.
‘As soon as I saw those pictures on Facebook, I reported them to the police and it is now in their hands. But we have been dealing with these thieves on a daily basis and asking them to leave.
‘We have had to step up patrols. We now have 24-hour patrols to protect our waters. We catch the thieves once or twice a week. A lot of them are repeat offenders.’
Eastern Europeans either ignore or plead ignorant to the law requiring catches to be thrown back. Carp are considered a delicacy in many countries such as Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, where they are often served as a treat for Christmas dinner.
Boasting: An angler shows off a haul of carp on Facebook. Eastern Europeans either ignore or plead ignorant to the law requiring catches to be thrown back
Mr Lane said: ‘They are killing them to eat and there isn’t a law against eating a carp.
‘But they are stealing the carp from the angling club, and every angling club in the country is suffering from this problem.
‘The cost of replacing the fish is astronomical – carp cost between £70 and £90 a pound. In the picture, the man is posing with eight dead carp. Those fish would cost over £2,000 to replace.’
He added: ‘It makes me very angry. We have 200 club members who pay a yearly fee of £35. It is less than a pound a week to fish – we don’t go out to make a profit, we just want to cover the costs.
‘Now we need to raise money to replace fish stocks because so many are being stolen. We can’t have these people coming on to our waters and stealing the fish.
‘If you want to eat carp, you can buy it off the shelf in Morrisons.’
Mr Lane acknowledged that British men have also been caught illegally fishing on the lakes. Police have been supporting the angling club in its efforts to catch offenders. Although it is certain the stolen fish came from its lakes, the club has been unable to definitively prove it, meaning no prosecutions have been brought.
Mr Lane says he is looking into microchipping carp in an attempt to track them better.
Most parts of Britain have limits on the size and species of fish anglers can take, and in all areas they are banned from keeping large carp. Last year, the Angling Trust warned that poachers are piling pressure on dwindling stocks of freshwater fish.
Gloucestershire Constabulary: ‘No arrests have been made and no offenders identified but officers from our rural crime team are working with the Angling Trust and the Environment Agency. They conduct regular patrols to identify and deter potential offenders.
‘The force is signed up to Operation Leviathan, the multi-force, multi-agency initiative which tackles the illegal taking of fish.’
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