£1,000 fine for illegally introducing fish into lake

A Selby man has been fined £1,000 by Sunderland Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to introducing fish to a lake in Fatfield, Washington, without consent from the Environment Agency.

Colin Forsyth (60) of Cliffe, Selby, North Yorkshire, was also ordered to pay full costs of £70 to the Environment Agency, which brought the case.

Helen Ferguson, prosecuting for the EA, told the court that at the end of 2005 the Washington and Harraton Angling Club decided to add fish to Mount Pleasant Lake in Fatfield, Washington, Tyne and Wear.

The club contacted Colin Forsyth, who runs Newhay Carp Farm near Selby, and placed an order for new fish. It was agreed that Mr Forsyth would obtain the Environment Agency's prior consent before adding fish to the lake.

Under Section 30 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fish Act 1975, the Environment Agency regulates the movement of fish within all inland waters in England and Wales to prevent the spread of fish diseases and to minimise damage to the ecosystem that may be caused by inappropriate fish being introduced.

On December 13, 2005 the EA received an application to introduce fish into Mount Pleasant Lake from Mr Forsyth. However, the application did not state a date for the introduction and was therefore not approved.

On February 17, 2006 the EA received three further applications from Mr Forsyth relating to proposed introductions at Mount Pleasant Lake on March 4, 2006. These applications were approved. However, when an officer attended to supervise the introduction of the fish to the lake in March, nothing happened.

The Environment Agency suspected foul play and interviewed the angling club secretary, John Hancock, and Mr Forsyth. Mr Forsyth admitted that he had never intended to introduce fish on March 4, 2006. He had in fact introduced them on February 10, 2006 in the full knowledge that he did not have the EA's consent to do so. However, the club had withheld payment until he produced a copy of the Environment Agency's consent. He created the three false applications in order to deceive the EA.

Mr Hancock received a formal caution.

In mitigation, Colin Forsyth entered an early guilty plea, and has no previous convictions.

Speaking after the case, Kevin Summerson, Special Enforcement Team Leader for the Environment Agency said: "It is vital that all introduced fish are given a health check. Fish diseases can wipe out entire populations and the consequences are even more disastrous if the disease is transmitted to wild fish stocks.

"It is not acceptable for people to take risks with wildlife, and a court has confirmed this in its sentence."

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