Officials using DRONES to clamp down on out-of-season fishing

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Fishing is a popular sport across the South West - Credit: Archant

High-tech DRONES are being used to crackdown on illegal nets and people fishing out of season.

Environment Agency Fisheries Officers in the South West are clamping down on illegal activities, with the help of the Avon and Somerset Police drone unit.

A drone can scan miles of river bank in quick time and alert the Environment Agency to the presence of suspicious activity which may require further investigation on the ground.

Fisheries Officer, Richard Dearnley, said: "We take illegal fishing seriously. It’s through partnership working like this that we can send a clear message to those who break the law.

"Anyone committing offences can expect to be prosecuted and face a substantial fine. 

"Not only does illegal fishing damage the sport, it also poses a serious risk of spreading fish diseases and invasive species.

"The irresponsible and illegal actions of a few can have widespread consequences for fisheries."

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Sergeant Colin Powell, from the Avon and Somerset Police drone unit, said: "Drones offer a supplement to officers on the ground and are increasingly used by police to assist in searches and to offer a different angle to crime scenes and major incidents.

"It’s been great to join up with the Environment Agency and expand the use of our drones in combatting illegal activity."

Anyone who suspects illegal fishing to be taking place should report it on 0800 807060, or to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Anyone fishing illegally can expect to be prosecuted and to face a fine of up to £2,500. 

Anyone who uses illegal methods faces a prison sentence of potentially two years and a fine of up to £50,000 for byelaw offences.

Rod licences can be bought online, starting at £6.