The South Devon & Channel Shellfishermen are asking for people’s help.

Over the last few weeks, multiple members pots have been tampered with.

A spokesperson said: “We have spotters out, but we need our friends to help spread the word that tampering with fishing gear is not okay.

“We've found numerous individual pots on the sea bed with their doors open as a result of human interference and we've had members gear hauled by persons who did not set it and do not own it.”

Commercial fishermen pay a licence fee that allows them to target species commercially.

They buy a second permit to operate inshore.

The fishermen undertake extensive training to work at sea and insure their vessels.

The spokesperson added: “They work extremely hard on the water and ashore in order to both make a living and provide food for people - fishing isn't called the most dangerous peace time occupation for nothing.”

His closing message was blunt: “If it's not yours leave it alone.

“Don't steal what's in the pots, don't leave the doors open and don't haul what you don't own. “Doing so affects someone's livelihood and it makes us mad.

“We've reported it to the authorities and our members gear is being watched.

“We will take action.”

South Devon & Channel Shellfishermen is a cooperative association of fishing industry professionals founded in 1968.

If you have any information you can call Devon and Cornwall Police on 101 or if the incident is underway phone 999.