FOUR men have been fined upto a thousand euros for illegal fishing.
At a sitting of Fermoy Court this month two Tipperary men were prosecuted by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) following investigations of illegal fishing activity on the river Aherlow at Anglesboro on January 2.
Noel Power, fishery officer with IFI, told Judge William Early that both men had been observed fishing under the hours of darkness with a lamp and spear.
The judge convicted both men and fined them €350 and €300 respectively. The two men were also ordered to pay costs amounting to €418.90 each.
Minister of State, Fergus O’Dowd welcomed the prosecution.
“Wild Atlantic salmon are part of our heritage and the killing of spawning fish is an environmental outrage. I once again commend the work of IFI staff, working in remote areas, in the worst of weather, late at night, protecting our wild salmon,” said Mr O’Dowd.
An IFI spokesperson said interference with fish over their spawning beds is a serious offence.
“Much of this type of activity takes place at night and IFI staff patrol the rivers during winter nights to ensure the protection of fish stocks. This illegal fishing is both barbaric and a threat to spawning Salmon.
“Spears and modified forks are sometimes used in tandem with lights in the illegal killing of spawning salmon. Salmon spawn in our rivers during winter time, usually in shallow fast flowing sections of rivers and streams,” said a spokesperson.
IFI also successfully prosecuted two Lithuanian brothers at Killaloe Court where fines of €500 each were imposed for taking more than the legal amount of coarse fish on Lough Derg. Last year IFI fisheries officers carried out a surveillance operation on the basis of reports received from the public and local anglers on Lough Derg. The brothers, who were fishing mainly for perch from a boat, were doing so in manner that did not appear to be for recreational purposes.
The anglers were capturing large numbers of fish using rod and line but had the aid of a fish finder on board the boat. The two individuals were apprehended at the lower end of the lake at the slipway in Ballina. The boat and a large quantity of fishing equipment were seized during the capture. Thirty-two perch were also seized of which eight were over the 25cm size limit for coarse fish.
Judge John Durkan stated: “Our inland waters are of the most valuable in Europe and need to be well protected”. He added that those who abuse them must face serious consequences.
Amanda Mooney, IFI director Limerick, said the result sends out a strong message that our wild fish populations must be protected.
“IFI have invested in multi-lingual angling guides which detail and explain coarse fish byelaws. There is no longer an excuse of not knowing what rules apply. I would also like to thank the gardai for their co-ordinating help,” said Ms Mooney.
Call 1890 347424 to report illegal fishing, water pollution or invasive species.