Meifod man ordered to pay nearly £1,000 for illegal fishing offences

Rolands Bartkevics

A Meifod man has been ordered to pay £984 after being found guilty of illegal fishing offences at Welshpool Magistrates Court.

The investigation was triggered by a report of illegal fishing on the River Banwy by a member of the public. Rolands Bartkevics of Meifod in Powys was soon identified as a suspect.

A search warrant was executed under police powers at Mr Bartkevics’ address, which was attended by both Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Enforcement Officers and the Dyfed-Powys Police (DPP) Rural Crime Team. The search resulted in the evidence of handling salmon illegally being obtained.

During the investigation, Mr Bartkevics was presented with pictures from his own social media account of him holding salmon. He conceded that he had caught the fish in the pictures but contended that the date of the posting of the images was not the date of when the fish was caught.

However, these pictures were posted before he had ever held a valid licence to catch salmon. The pictures also showed him handling salmon in suspicious circumstances.

After a prosecution carried out by NRW, Mr Bartkevics was found guilty of an offence under the Salmon Act 1986, and an offence under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 on 6 March 2024.

Mr Bartkevics failed to attend the court hearing and the case was proven in his absence.

Jeremy Goddard, NRW’s Waste and Enforcement Team Leader in Mid Wales said:

“Salmon is an iconic species in Wales. Their presence in a river is an indicator of high environmental quality, and when stocks are sustainable, they support high value fisheries to many rural areas of Wales.
“As salmon are under significant pressure from many sources, they are very vulnerable to illegal fishing. Since 2020, rod and net fishing byelaws in Wales have meant that all salmon caught in Wales must be returned to the water alive as quickly as possible.
“It is important to point out that Mr Bartkevics’s offending was first reported to us by a concerned member of the public. I would like to thank them for their vigilance and promptly reporting the case and the DPP Rural Crime Team for their support in the investigation.”

Mr Bartkevics was ordered to pay £300 in fines, £650 of NRW’s costs of bringing the prosecution and a victim surcharge of £34.

NRW is urging urge anyone who thinks that they have seen evidence of illegal fishing to report it by calling the 24/7 incident line on 0300 065 3000, or the online reporting form.