"No Eastern Europeans" sign taken down after prosecution threat – Fishupdate.com

“No Eastern Europeans” sign taken down after prosecution threat Published:  15 April, 2013 IT is a scourge that has been facing UK fresh water fish farmers and fishing lake owners for the past few years – the plunder of valuable fishery stock from their waters. But now one 75-year-old Warwickshire fishing lake farmer trying to fight back against the problem has been threatened with prosecution for a race crime after he put up a sign telling Eastern Europeans they were not welcome on his premises.Eddie Whitehead, who owns the Dog Lane Fishery at Napton-on-the-Hill, erected the gold and green sign saying “No Eastern Europeans” after carp worth almost £10,000 was stolen from his premises.A few weeks later he received a visit from Warwickshire Police, not to investigate the theft, but to tell him that unless he took the sign down he faced possible prosecution for a race hate crime even though there is no such thing as an Eastern European race.Mr Whitehead insists that he was not a racist, anything but in fact, but he said while genuine anglers came in the morning a lot of people from Eastern Europe arrived at his lake late in the day with their bags and took his fish away. He said: “Over in Poland, or whatever country they come from, it’s a speciality that what they catch they do eat but they’ve got to realise they’re in England and they can’t do it here.”This incident is the latest in a number of thefts which have been worrying owners for some time. Last year the Angling Trust and the Environment Agency began employing Polish anglers to talk to Polish communities to explain fishing laws. Also the Scottish Federation for Course Angling recently announced the formation of the first Polish Angling Club in Scotland with the objective to highlight and encourage catch and release.The problem seems to lie in a clash of cultures. In countries such as Poland, Romania and Lithuania freshwater fish such as carp is a popular delicacy, eaten at feasts and at Christmas. Some other species are smoked much like cod and haddock in the UK. But UK fish farmers and lake owners believe these customs are decimating their own stocks.Mr Whitehead, who was quite shocked to find himself on the wrong end of a police visit, said he had now taken down the sign because he doesn’t want to run the risk of a criminal record. Warwickshire Police said they had a duty to investigate such complaints because where there was a belief that there is an intent to harass or distress people it could be construed as a racially motivated crime.