Two men from Nottingham have been fined for illegally fishing for crayfish in Derby in July 2019.
A prosecution was brought by the Environment Agency after our Rural Crime Team officers spotted the pair throwing traps into the River Derwent, near the St Mary’s Bridge, around midnight on 23 July 2019. They later found some signal crayfish had been caught.
Crates and a coil of wire used to make the crayfish traps were also discovered in the boot of a nearby van, while stacked under the bridge and in the River Derwent were other traps baited with chicken carcasses.
The men, both aged 41, had modified plastic mushroom crates to make traps to catch signal crayfish.
Xiao Chaun Zhang, of Prospect Road, Nottingham, was fined £400 and ordered to pay £690 costs, while Weiqui Lui, of Watermark Close, Nottingham, was fined £333 and ordered to pay costs of £683, following a hearing at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court on Monday 14 February.
Commercial trapping of crayfish for human consumption is not permitted, because it can cause the spread of disease (known as the crayfish plague) from invasive signal crayfish to native white claw crayfish. This is fatal to native white claw crayfish.
Trapping also results in an increase in the population of signal crayfish, because it removes the larger crayfish which naturally predate on the smaller ones.
PC Andy Shaw the Derbyshire Rural Crime Team said: “We supported the Environment Agency for this operation. It was a long shift for the officers involved but it is great to see that the suspects have now been prosecuted in court.
“The Environment Agency carry out intelligence-led enforcement work all year round, targeting hot-spot areas and places where illegal fishing is reported. We will continue to support their work and take action when appropriate.”
A spokesperson for the Environment Agency, said: “This case shows how seriously the courts take these offences and we hope the high penalty will act as a deterrent to anyone who is thinking of fishing for crayfish. Anyone wanting to fish for crayfish must contact the Environment Agency to apply for a permit first.
“Fishing illegally can incur a fine of up to £2,500 and offenders can also have their fishing equipment seized.
“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.”
Licences for crayfish fishing can be granted for commercial reasons, fisheries management and scientific research. Any angler aged 13 or over must apply for a licence.
Licences are available from www.gov.uk/get-a-fishing-licence or by calling the Environment Agency on 0344 800 5386 between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.