THIEVES have wrecked a Wigan coarse fishery by stealing fish.
Angling chiefs claim that gill nets and multi-baited long lines more usually seen in commercial sea fishing are being used at Ince Moss’s Horrock’s Flash to devastating effect for the future of the sport on the 15 acre water.
And they are now threatening to cite the council for negligence after claiming that town hall bosses have failed to act on their warnings and protect the former mining subsidence created lake from being targeted by poachers.
A spokesman for the fishery watchdog organisation the Environment Agency confirmed that they were investigating a complaint.
Although it is common practice to eat coarse fish like bream, carp, pike and perch within communities across the Continent, there is no tradition of eating fresh water species (apart from salmon, trout and eels) on these shores.
It is also largely illegal in Britain.
There has been increasing concern among angling clubs about the damage to fish stocks, particularly after abandoned fishing nets were found on the banks of Pennington Flash recently.
Horrock’s Flash passed into the ownership of the council in the 1990s after owners Wigan Angling Association (WAA) decided that land development had made access to it for anything but the most able bodied fishermen too difficult for them to continue managing it as a sport fishery.
Abram angler John Weedon of the newly formed Angling Trust says that so many fish are being taken with the nets - which are spread out overnight and hauled in before dawn - that the fish stealing operation could now be a commercial business to supply cheap fish.
Because the nets do not select their prey, they are removing fish “from three inches to three feet” and their use is seen as particularly worrying for fish stocks, he says.
A fisherman for well over half a century, Mr Weedon is threatening to attempt a prosecution against the council for “criminal negligence” for failing to protect fish stocks from rustlers in a water they hold on behalf of tax payers across the borough.
He wants any nature lovers or anglers who see anything suspicious to call the EA’s emergency hotline on 0800 807060.
Mr Weedon said: “Everybody is talking about it and every time I go to the tackle shop in Platt Bridge people are pulling me up and asking what can be done about.
“These people have been hitting Horrocks for ages now and making the most of the fact that it is a bit off the beaten track.”
He now wants the Environment Agency to do a full fish survey of the water to establish the remaining stock levels “before it is too late.”