THE Environment Agency is clamping down on illegal sales of wild salmon and sea trout by targeting restaurants, hotels, pubs and fish mongers in Yorkshire.

Officers are visiting food businesses to check coolers, freezers and fish storage facilities, as well as giving advice on how to spot wild salmon and sea trout that have been caught illegally. Bailiffs are also patrolling rivers and coastal areas to target illegal fishing.

The operation covers the Yorkshire coast with a particular focus on the River Esk catchment area in North Yorkshire.

Since changes to the Salmon and Sea Trout Protection Bylaws in 2018, it is now illegal to take and kill any wild salmon in England, except in a small number of specified situations. Sea trout can still be taken legally in licensed nets and instruments.

It is now an offence to buy or sell any wild caught salmon unless the buyer/seller can provide evidence proving the salmon had been taken legally.

Paul Slater, team leader at the Environment Agency, said: “We are determined to stop the illegal fishing and trade of salmon and sea trout because these activities have a terrible impact on fish populations.

“Legitimate netsmen sell wild salmon and sea trout with an Environment Agency tag attached to the carcass. If this is not present, then you may be handling illegally-caught fish and you may be liable for prosecution.

“Other tell-tale signs are apparent on the fish carcasses themselves: any spear or gaff wounds, or snare or gill net marks on a salmonid can indicate that a fish has been caught illegally.”

Wild salmon and sea trout that have been caught legitimately must have an Environment Agency tag that identifies the source of the fish. This tag must remain attached until a fish is processed.

If you are offered wild salmon or sea trout that you suspect has been illegally caught or you know of someone fishing illegally report it to the Environment Agency’s incident hotline on 0800 807060.

For further information on fishing byelaws and to find out the close season runs in your area, visit