Sunday, September 09, 2012

Illegal netters seen on Ouse near Littleport

Worrying news from the Ouse, where a gang of illegal netters were seen at work by a Riverwatch member on Friday night. Police were called but by the time they arrived the fish and net had been put in a car - believed to be a small BMW saloon - leaving members of the group fishing with rods spread over a large area.

Police could do nothing about by-law offences, but club bailiffs attended and kicked off those who weren't members, allowing those who were to remain, according to the story now doing the rounds.  Some people from other cultures consume their catch - some of them even barbecue them on the bank.

But you might surmise someone driving a BMW might not be so desperate for food that they have to resort to the riverbank to top up their larders. That leaves me convinced that a lot of netting is carried out to supply a trade in fish - where a whole raft of other rules apply regarding food hygiene, labelling and other matters.

Back in April, Norfolk County Council issued a press statement after reports of "substandard fish" being offered door-to-door.

"The County Council's Trading Standards Officers have received a report of traders calling unannounced to a business in central Norfolk and attempting to sell fish. They believe the traders may move on to Norwich, Lingwood, Blofield and Acle and surrounding areas, targeting homes owned by more vulnerable members of the community.

"The traders, who use an unbranded non-refrigerated van, are reported to use high pressure sales tactics. Norfolk Trading Standards Officers also have doubts about the quality of the fish being offered for sale, whether the type of fish is as claimed and if it has been appropriately stored.

"Stephen Maunder, speaking on behalf of Norfolk Trading Standards, said: "If these traders knock at your door, we would certainly suggest that you do not buy any fish from them, and consider not opening the door to them.

"We would urge members of the public to buy from one of the many reputable fish merchants we have here in Norfolk because you can be sure of the type and quality of the fish on sale; they are, without doubt, a much better alternative to buying fish from somebody arriving at your doorstep unannounced."

"Norfolk County Council Trading Standards' service and Norfolk Constabulary issued a number of warnings about doorstep fish sellers back in 2008 and 2009. In once instance in 2009, traders called at the home of one vulnerable man in Norwich, and convinced him to buy 65 packs of fish for £900. However, the fish was only worth around £150."

Riverwatch was set up in the Fens last year to help the Environment Agency collect intelligence on illegal fishing - particularly people taking fish. It recommends anglers inform the EA of any suspicious activity, and keep a note of time, place, descriptions of those involved and their vehicles.

The EA hotline number is 0800 807060. Worth adding to your mobile.


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