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Crackdown on illegal fishing along River Wear in Chester-le-Street
PATROLS have been stepped up to crack down on illegal fishing activities on a stretch of river through a popular park.
Extra observation is being mounted along the River Wear through Riverside Park, in Chester-le-Street.
Although the increased surveillance is primarily aimed at combating and deterring unlicensed angling, it is hoped the extra manpower presence will help to curb general anti-social behaviour.
Neighbourhood wardens are carrying out the patrols from where the river enters the park, near Crichton Avenue, south-west of the Riverside cricket ground and public sports pitches, to the Cong Burn, at the opposite end of the park.
Durham County Council said for a number of years people have been fishing in the Riverside Park area without purchasing day permits and, in some cases, without having any licence at all.
Although signs have been put in place to deter illegal fishing, the problem is said to persist.
Neighbourhood wardens and Riverside Park staff now have the power to challenge any anglers in the area.
Anyone found to be fishing without permits can be asked to leave and also risks being reported to The Environment Agency for potential prosecution.
The county council has contacted all local fishing tackle outlets to inform them of the crackdown and to urge them to spread the word to their customers and to the wider angling community.
It has also liaised with local water bailiffs who have agreed to increase their patrols in the area.
Council neighbourhood warden, Tom Walton, said: “The aim of the project is to combat illegal fishing and poaching in the Riverside Park area.
“It is also hoped that increased patrols will also reduce anti-social behaviour in the area making Riverside Park a safer place to visit.”
Patrols began in September and will continue throughout the autumn and winter.
Members of the public are asked to report any suspected illegal fishing to the Riverside Park reception desk, which will, in turn, inform neighbourhood wardens.
The reception desk can be contacted on 0191-389 0986.