TWO men have been fined hundreds of pounds for fishing illegally at a pond.

In separate incidents Lee Watson, 33, of East Street in Grange Villa, Chester-le-Street, and David Bilverstone, 25, of Northlands, Chester-le-Street, were both charged with fishing without a licence and failing to give their addresses to an Environment Agency officer.

Both had their cases proved in absence at Hull Magistrates’ Court recently and they were each ordered to pay £697.47 in fines and costs.

Environment Agency Fisheries Enforcement Officers were on patrol at Ouston Springs Pond, Chester-le-Street, checking the rod licences of anglers on August 9 last year as part of routine patrols.

The two men were not at the pond together.

The Environment Agency is now reminding anglers of the importance of having a fishing licence.

Senior Fisheries Enforcement Officer David Shears said: “The majority of anglers fish legally and buy a rod licence.

“Those that don’t are cheating their fellow anglers and endangering the future of the sport.

“In addition, those that flout the law risk a criminal conviction, a fine, and could lose their fishing equipment.

“It’s just not worth it.”

All income from rod licence sales is used to fund Environment Agency work to protect and improve fish stocks and fisheries, including improving habitats for fish and facilities for anglers, tackling illegal fishing and working with partners to encourage people to give fishing a go.

Anyone witnessing illegal fishing incidents in progress can report it to the agency on 0800-807-060.