Pair caught out fishing for elvers

PUBLISHED: 09:51 12 November 2010

fishing nets

fishing nets

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A FATHER and son caught fishing for endangered eels illegally were hauled before court and ordered to pay more than £1,000.

Both Robert Stephen Furmage, aged 54, and son Robert Michael Furmage, aged 29, pleaded guilty to charges of fishing for elvers using illegal methods on the Blind Yeo River between Weston and Clevedon.

Magistrates at North Somerset Courthouse heard how the pair were spotted by Environment Agency bailiffs standing on a sluice gate using hand-held nets on April 10.

Under a National Eel Fisheries by-law, fishing for elvers within 10 metres of such a structure is illegal because of the ease of catching the endangered fish.

When asked why they were fishing from the sluice gate, the pair replied that they changed their position after sinking in mud trying to fish from the bank.

However, the pair later admitted to fishing from the gate on three occasions and boasted to getting £200 for a kilo of elvers - about 3,500 young eels.

Father Robert and son Robert, both of Bibery Road in Gloucester, were fined £200 and £120 respectively and ordered to pay £643 in costs

Their equipment, including lamps, torches and a night vision scope, was also confiscated.

Illegal fishing of elvers has grown rapidly in recent years, partly down to the escalating price they demand at restaurants, resulting in a crash in population in British rivers.

It is estimated there has been a 40 per cent reduction in eels in England and Wales from 1988 to 2006.

The eels hatch from eggs in the Caribbean before swimming to colder waters and migrating up fresh water rivers.

The typical life span of an eel is 35 years.

Speaking after the case, Richard Dearnley, of the Environment Agency, said: “The pair’s irresponsible behaviour removes fish from the river that could be caught legally. It also undermines a historic elver fishery.”

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