Thursday, 26 November 2015

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Owner of award-winning Cumbrian restaurant bought illegally-caught salmon

The owner of an award-winning restaurant has been ordered to pay £1,500 and given a 12-month community order for buying illegally-caught salmon.

Angela Dean photo
Angela Dean

Angela Dean, of the Blacksmith’s Restaurant in Bigrigg, Egremont, appeared before West Allerdale Magistrates’ Court where she pleaded guilty to the offence.

Environment Agency (EA) fisheries officers swooped on the Springfield Road restaurant last August after getting a tip-off that 50-year-old Dean was receiving the fish illegally.

During the search officers found 37 portions of fresh salmon in a kitchen freezer, as well as heads, frames and skin of seven fish in a wheelie bin at the back of the premises.

The court heard how Dean received a phone call from a man on August 26, asking if she wanted to buy some salmon, which she agreed to.

She confirmed the salmon were not purchased from a legitimate commercial source and the fish were not tagged – which would confirm they had been caught legally.

Dean was given a 12-month community sentence and ordered to carry out 40 hours of unpaid work.

She was also ordered to pay £1,500 in costs to the Environment Agency.

The agency brought the prosecution against Dean as part of a push to protect fish stocks by discouraging the purchase of salmon at the ‘back door.’

Steve Powell, fisheries specialist for the EA, said: “By purchasing the salmon Mrs Dean was providing a market for the illegal activity of poaching salmon, which has no regard for conserving fish stocks and has a significant impact on the local economy.

“This prosecution sends a strong message to other restaurant or hotel owners who might be tempted to accept illegally-caught fish. Instead, we would urge them to report anyone they believe is involved in this illegal trade on 0800 80 70 60.”

The nearest river catchment to Egremont is the River Ehen, which is designated a Special Area of Conservation to protect Atlantic salmon which are a UK biodiversity action plan species.

A female salmon taken from the wild means a loss of approximately 1,000 eggs per kilo of bodyweight to the river system.

The EA’s latest salmon action plan for the River Ehen estimates the socio-economic cost of each salmon in the river system to be £4,800.


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