A MAN has been told to pay almost £5,000 in fines and costs after he was caught fishing illegally in a Hampshire river.

Michael Stimson, 35 of no fixed address, was prosecuted by Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) after using a fixed fishing net near Lymington Quay.

It comes two years after a court heard he put public health at risk by trying to catch shellfish suspected of being contaminated with E coli.

Stimson, then living at Ladycross Road, Hythe, admitted three offences brought under maritime safety laws and two under food hygiene regulations, and was jailed for four months.

On September 21 last year Stimson was seen breaking IFCA bylaws by using a fixed fishing net at a railway bridge near Lymington Quay.

The use of fixed nets in the Lymington River has been banned in a bid to protect migratory fish, especially sea trout.

Stimson failed to attend the hearing at Southampton Magistrates’ Court and was found guilty in his absence. He was told to pay fines and costs totalling £4,878.

Speaking after the case, Robert Clark, chief officer of the Southern IFCA, said: “Bylaws are in place to protect the marine environment and protected species.

“Setting a net across a river when sea trout are migrating puts at risk efforts to conserve these species, which are protected because of a decline in their numbers.”

In November 2015 Stimson was jailed at Southampton Crown Court for a raft of offences.

At a previous hearing he admitted flouting maritime safety laws by operating a vessel without navigation lights, using two deckhands who were not properly trained, fishing in prohibited waters and failing to re-register his boat, which had previously been owned by his father.