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Poachers target junk food-eating carp at Hull shopping centre

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By Kevin ShoesmithBBC News

Kevin Shoesmith/BBC Mark Bayston with a landing net at Princes Quay in HullKevin Shoesmith/BBC

Cafe owner Mark Bayston with a landing net he says was found next to railings one morning

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.

Kevin Shoesmith/BBC fish in the basinKevin Shoesmith/BBC

Fish in the dock, where the water is dyed turquoise

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).

Kevin Shoesmith/BBC A 'no fishing' sign at Princes Dock, HullKevin Shoesmith/BBC

Fishing is not permitted in the dock

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.

Kevin Shoesmith/BBC Fish in Princes Dock, HullKevin Shoesmith/BBC

Some anglers claim the dock contains fish weighing 20lb (9kg) or more

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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