A chef was taken to court after he strung a net across the River Dee for six hours.
Zhi Nan Weng, 35, a chef at a Chinese takeaway restaurant, caught eels and flat fish which he said would have been for his own personal consumption.
He told Flintshire Magistrates’ Court at Mold that he did not know it was illegal.
Weng, of Hoole Road in Chester, ended up with a £552 court bill after he admitted illegal fishing in August of last year.
The court heard that eel numbers had crashed in recent years and had received protection. Such offences had an environmental impact.
Solicitor Dafydd Roberts, prosecuting for Natural Resources Wales, said that eels were major food sources for other wildlife such as otters and herons.
Their demise put extra pressure on salmon and brown trout which were predated in greater numbers.
The prosecutor said that it was illegal in any event to set large nets across rivers to “catch pretty much anything that passes through”.
Two officers were at the River Dee on August 3 downstream from Balderton Brook and observed a person setting a net across the river.
It was about 11.20pm, they could not reach him on the opposite left bank and when he left and drove away, they decided to return to the scene early the following morning.
At 5.25am they saw Weng wearing a baseball cap approach the net and start emptying it.
His English was not great but he understood what they were saying, said Mr Roberts.
He accepted that the ten metre long net and stakes were his and that he had set it about 11.20pm the previous evening. The net had been there for about six hours.
He told how he worked as a chef at a Chinese takeaway restaurant but said that the eels for his own consumption.
Officers retrieved five eels and three flat fish from the net. They were still alive and were released back into the river.
Wenghad asked what he needed to do to fish legally with a net.
But Mr Roberts said that it was illegal – he could not fix a net from one side to another and in any event eels were protected.
Weng represented himself and had a friend with him to help interpret. He said that he did not know that putting a net in the water was illegal. It was the first time he had done it.
He said that he did not have much income and asked if he could do social work instead of a fine.
But he was told that he could only be fined for such an offence.
He was fined £45 in view of his limited income but was ordered to pay £477 costs to Natural Resources Wales together with a £30 surcharge.
Magistrates said they took into account his guilty pleas but said there were major environmental issues to be considered.
The net and stakes were confiscated.