Otter drowned in illegal eel trap

THE Environment Agency is urging anglers to report illegal fishing activity after an otter died in an illegally set trap to capture eels.

A net with the dead otter inside was found this week three miles from the centre of Boston in Stonebridge Drain.

Not only did the net omit a guard to prevent otters entering it and becoming trapped, it also appeared during close season for eel fishing, which runs until 1 April 2012.

Phil Smith, Environment Agency Biodiversity Officer, said: “The police have been informed of this illegal fishing activity and if investigations lead to finding who set the net, a prosecution will follow.

“The eel population is declining so it is vital that eel netsman respect the close season to ensure that fishing practices are sustainable. In this instance, an otter, a protected species, has also suffered as a result of the illegal activity.”

Illegal netting, trapping and fish theft impacts on fish stocks and poses a risk to the environment. By contacting the free 24 hour incident hotline on 0800-807060, people can provide the Environment Agency with critical information to help tackle illegal fishing.

Eel nets have to be licensed by the Environment Agency in a similar way that anglers need to license their fishing rods. They should have a numbered tag to allow identification and have to be fitted with a guard to prevent otters entering them. The season for trapping eels is between 1 April and 10 December in any year.