Poachers target city's junk food-eating fish

Mark Bayston with a landing net at Princes Quay in Hull
Cafe owner Mark Bayston with a landing net he says was found next to railings one morning [Kevin Shoesmith/BBC]

People are believed to be catching large ornamental fish that have been fattened up on junk food thrown into the water surrounding a shopping centre.

Carp were introduced to the former dock, in Hull, when Princes Quay Shopping Centre opened in 1991, with passers-by seen tossing sausage rolls, chips and other scraps into the water.

Despite signs stating fishing is off limits, anglers have taken to social media to tell of their trips, while the owner of a nearby business said he had found poachers' lines tied to railings and even a discarded net.

Shopping centre management said they were aware illegal fishing was taking place and were in contact with Humberside Police.

fish in the basin
Fish in the dock, where the water is dyed turquoise [Kevin Shoesmith/BBC]

Mark Bayston, the owner of McCoy's café, which overlooks the dock, said he had seen evidence of poaching.

"We sometimes come in on a morning and there will be a line attached to one of the railings with a barb [hook] on the end that's just sat in the water," he said.

Mr Bayston showed the BBC a landing net. "It was here one morning when I opened up," he added. "I assume they'd [poachers] been disturbed and left it."

Posting in a carp group on Facebook, one angler asked if fishing was allowed in the basin.

Another replied that people have "a quick dabble until security moves you on", while someone else suggested waiting for nightfall.

Others offered tips on how to catch the "big lumps", rumoured to weigh in excess of 20lb (9kg).

A 'no fishing' sign at Princes Dock, Hull
Fishing is not permitted in the dock [Kevin Shoesmith/BBC]

Sarah Smith, the shopping centre manager, reminded people that "the basin is not for people to fish".

She said management were aware of illegal fishing, but added: "It does not happen very often".

Ms Smith said anyone catching and removing fish was committing "theft and trespass".

The dock contained enough natural food to sustain the fish, meaning people should not feed them, she added.

Fish in Princes Dock, Hull
Some anglers claim the dock contains fish weighing 20lb (9kg) or more [Kevin Shoesmith/BBC]

Previously, the Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM) said feeding scraps of "non-natural" food to the fish would shorten their lives.

Iain Turner, the IFM's development officer, said: "Carp will eat, eat, eat. They will eat things like sausage rolls, pasties and chips.

"The fish may look healthy because they're so big, but if they're fed non-natural food like this their vital organs, especially their livers, will become encased in fat. It really isn't good for them."

The BBC has approached Humberside Police for a comment.

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