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An angler has been convicted at Lisburn Magistrates’ Court for several fishing offences and fined a total of £465, which included a £15 offender levy.

Kevin McCann (55) of Lagmore View Gardens, Dunmurray, Belfast was found guilty at Lisburn Magistrates’ Court to three breaches of legislation and fisheries regulations prescribed under the Fisheries Act (Northern Ireland) 1966, namely unlicensed fishing, fishing on Public Angling Estate (PAE) waters without a permit and obstructing and impeding an authorised person while carrying out their duties.

The court heard that on 25 August 2021, DAERA fisheries protection officers were on routine patrol of PAE waters at Hillsborough Lake when they observed McCann angling.

When asked to reel in his rod so a check of the bait could be made, McCann reeled in two rods; a further rod licence and permit check confirmed that McCann had a game licence and permit for one of the rods and not the other.

When this was explained to McCann, he advised the second rod belonged to his grandson who had gone for a walk. The fisheries protection officers then advised they would await his return. McCann obstructed and impeded DAERA staff from carrying out their duties, the court heard.

The total fine of £465 consisted of fines of £150 for each offence along with an offender levy of £15.

DAERA says it is committed to pursue those who fish illegally in Northern Ireland. If you are aware or suspect illegal fishing, DAERA Inland Fisheries can be contacted at (+44) 0300 200 7860 or outside office hours (+44) 0800 807 060.

Published in Angling
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Two carp anglers convicted at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court for separate fishing offences have been fined a total of £430.

Samuel Seenan (42) of Altnagarron Mews, Belfast pleaded guilty to three breaches of legislation prescribed under the Fisheries Act (Northern Ireland) 1966 — namely unlicensed fishing, failing to provide his name and address and obstructing and impeding an authorised person.

Separately, Wayne Hull (51) of Ashmount Gardens in Lisburn pleaded guilty to two breaches of legislation prescribed under the Fisheries Act (Northern Ireland) 1966, namely unlicensed fishing and failing to provide his name and address.

On 20 March 2022, DAERA fisheries protection officers were on routine patrol of Mill Lodge carp fishery in Dromore, Co Down. This fishery is owned by the Northern Ireland Carp Angling Society (NICAS).

During their patrol, they observed Seenan setting up fishing rods. Seenan was then approached by a DAERA fisheries protection officer and asked that he provide his details so a check of the online system could take place to confirm there was a license in place for each of his fishing rods.

Seenan was aggressive and confrontational during these requests and continually refused to comply, the court heard.

After numerous requests were ignored, the PSNI was called to assist. With the PSNI assistance, Seenan then provided his details.

Due to his constant refusal to provide details initially, and that there was no fishing licence in place during the initial request to provide his details, all fishing equipment belonging to Seenan was seized.

The total fine of £315 consisted of fines ranging from £50 to £200 for each offence along with an offender levy of £15.

In a separate incident, when Hull was approached and asked for his details, he explained that he was an officer of the club and that all fishing licenses had been checked previously for all anglers present.

Hull then provided a false name, along with two different dates of birth, the court heard. When asked again to provide his correct details, a follow-up check confirmed that Hull had no current fishing license and was fishing illegally.

Hull’s total fine of £115 consisted of two fines of £50 for each offence along with an offender levy of £15.

DAERA says it is committed to pursue those who fish illegally. If you are aware or suspect illegal fishing, DAERA Inland Fisheries can be contacted at (+44) 0300 200 7860 or outside office hours (+44) 0800 807 060.

Published in Angling
Tagged under

Three Mayo men have been convicted of false imprisonment, assault and obstruction as they attempted to evade fisheries officers from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) at Belderrig Pier on the North Mayo coast two years ago.

At a sitting of Ballina District Court on 12 July this year, Judge Fiona Lydon also convicted the men of possessing illegally caught wild Atlantic salmon and nets, in charges brought by IFI. The charges of false imprisonment were brought by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Daniel McHale, with an address of Belderrig Mor in Ballina, was sentenced to six months in prison, which was suspended for two years. Liam McHale of Carnrock in Belmullet was sentenced to four months in prison, also suspended for two years. Joachim McNulty, with an address of Belderrig Beg in Ballina, was sentenced to four months in prison, which was suspended for two years. The three men were also ordered to pay €2,500 each to charity.

The court heard evidence from Lonan O’Farrell, an inspector with IFI that on the evening of 15 July 2020, the men were approached by fisheries officers as they recovered their boat at Belderrig Pier on the North Mayo coast.

The fisheries officers suspected that the men had illegally caught wild Atlantic salmon and illegal gill nets on board but were obstructed and assaulted when they lawfully attempted to board the vessel.

A fisheries officer was subsequently assaulted and knocked overboard by one of the men, but two colleagues managed to board the vessel. When the fisheries officer swam safely back to the pier, the court heard that emergency services were contacted and An Garda Síochána quickly arrived on the scene.

With two fisheries officers still on board, the men took the boat out to sea and refused to obey orders to return the boat back to port. A short time later, the men agreed to bring the boat back to port and the fisheries officers were able to get back to the pier safely.

The boat, An Deiseach, was later detained in Porturlin Harbour where forensics and salmon scale samples were taken as evidence for the subsequent criminal prosecution. Fisheries officers, along with An Garda Síochana, seized three vehicles on the night belonging to the men in question.

Inspector Pat Armstrong, officer Brian Flannery and assistant inspector Michael Wilson, all with IFI, also gave evidence during court proceedings providing their accounts of the incident to Judge Lydon.

IFI chief executive Francis O’Donnell welcomed the convictions, saying it was one of the most serious incidents that the agency has come across.

“Thanks to the brave actions of our fisheries Oofficers, a major illegal fishing gang has been stopped and brought to justice,” he said. “However, in the course of doing their job to protect vulnerable fish species, such as wild Atlantic salmon, they were obstructed, assaulted and falsely imprisoned. This is not acceptable and cannot be tolerated in Irish society.

“This very serious case sends out a clear message to those involved in illegal fishing — we will use our full powers under the law to protect people doing their jobs and to prosecute offenders through the courts.”

O’Donnell also thanked An Garda Síochána and the Director of Public Prosecutions on behalf of IFI for their assistance in the case.

Fisheries Officers have nominated three charities — the Charlie Bird Fund, Western Alzheimer’s Association and the RNLI — to receive the three €2,500 donations.

Published in Fishing

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has appealed to landowners to consult with it before carrying out works on or near watercourses after a Longford man was fined or disturbance of spawning beds.

Colm Ginty from Dunbeggan, Aughnacliffe, Co Longford was convicted and fined €1,000 and ordered to pay a further €1,727.91 towards costs and expenses at Longford District Court on 12 April following a prosecution taken by IFI.

Judge Bernie Owens convicted Ginty under Section 173(1)(d) Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959 for carrying out works on the Aughnacliffe River on 30 June 2021 that involved the removal of a substantial amount of gravel from the channel of the river and causing the destabilisation of the bank.

These works were carried out in an area of spawning habitat for wild brown trout and disturbed and injured sensitive spawning beds and bank where the spawn or fry of trout may be.

The court heard evidence from senior fisheries environmental officer Ailish Keane as to the adverse impacts caused by the actions, which occurred along a 90-metre section of the river.

Keane also outlined the negative long-term impacts that the works would have on the lifecycle of the brown trout for years to come.

She explained that IFI staff frequently consult with farmers who want to carry out works in rivers and outline the way works should be carried out to avoid potential damage to fish life.

The Aughnacliffe River is a tributary of the Erne River Catchment which contains a prime spawning habitat for wild brown trout.

Milton Matthews, director of the North West River Basin District at IFI said: “Unauthorised and unplanned instream works put undue pressure on our native fish stocks through loss or degradation of fisheries habitat and spawning areas.

“It is a landowner's responsibility to get in contact with their agricultural advisor or Inland Fisheries Ireland before carrying out any works in or along on watercourses. Failure to do so may result in unnecessary and damaging impact to fisheries habitat and may be liable to prosecution.”

Published in Angling

A Cork city man convicted of strokehauling salmon received a three-month prison sentence suspended for two years at a sitting of Cork District Court on Tuesday 17 May.

Shane Heaphy (27) of Templeacre Avenue, Gurranabraher pleaded guilty to committing four fisheries offences on the River Lee on 25 July 2020.

The court heard evidence from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) protection officers that Heaphy entered upon a several (private) fishery at the Cork Waterworks weir on 25 July to strokehaul salmon.

Strokehauling is an illegal method of catching fish that involves ripping weighted hooks along the flank of a fish to try and impale it and causes horrific injuries to the fish.

Judge Marian O’Leary, hearing that Heaphy had previous convictions for strokehauling, responded by stating that “strokehauling was cruel” and that the court took a “dim view” of the practice.

Heaphy was also convicted of possession of a fishing rod and line, fishing within 50 yards of the downstream face of the weir and using a strokehaul. He was fined €300 and ordered to pay €350 in expenses.

IFI director of the South West River Basin District, Sean Long welcomed the judges’ comments: “The practice of strokehauling is barbaric and fuelled by a small black-market for illegally caught fish.

“We will not tolerate any kind of illegal fishing and our protection staff carry out covert and overt operations to safeguard our fisheries resource.

“Anglers and members of the general public are urged to report illegal fishing to IFI in confidence through our 24-hour hotline number 0818 347 424.”

IFI reminds the public that angling is prohibited in the Waterworks Powerhouse area under the Fisheries Consolidation Act 1959 and Article 4 of the River Lee (Cork Waterworks Weir) By-Law No.453 of 1943.

Published in Angling

Two men have been convicted for being in the possession of illegally caught salmon on the River Fergus in Ennis, Co Clare and were ordered to pay fines following prosecutions taken by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

Gerard Considine and Niall Considine, cousins with an address of Clarecastle, Co Clare, received a fine of €200 and costs of €471 each following their conviction at Ennis District Court on Friday 22 April by Judge Bernadette Owens.

IFI fisheries officers gave evidence in relation to the offence which occurred on 1 July 2021.

They outlined the facts of the case to the court of how both men had been apprehended following a night-time surveillance operation in the area after suspicious activity had been detected.

The men were found to be in possession of eight salmon illegally caught from the River Fergus in Ennis.

David McInerney, director of the Shannon River Basin District at IFI said: “Inland Fisheries Ireland has no tolerance for illegal fishing. Atlantic salmon stocks are in decline and need to be protected. Illegal fishing puts the already diminished stocks in further jeopardy.

“The river Fergus and the entire River Shannon catchment is closed for the harvesting of salmon due to the poor level of salmon stocks in the river.

“We appeal to the general public to report suspected instances of illegal fishing to IFI’s confidential 24/7 hotline number on 0818 34 74 24.”

Published in Angling

A Kilrush man has been convicted of threatening to kill or cause serious harm to a fisheries officer following an incident on the Shannon Estuary in the summer of 2020.

At a sitting in Ennis of Kilrush District Court on Tuesday 8 February, John Linnane was convicted under Section 5 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act over the incident occurred during an investigation by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) into illegal fishing for wild salmon on 1 June 2020.

At Kilrush District Court, Judge Larkin imposed a two-month suspended sentence and 100 hours of community service on Linnane, pending on the outcome of a probation report.

At an earlier court sitting in November 2021, Linnane pleaded guilty to illegal fishing for wild salmon on the same date (1 June 2020) on the Shannon Estuary in Co Clare. Linnane is awaiting sentencing for this conviction.

Speaking after this week’s conviction, David McInerney, director of the Shannon River Basin District, said: “Threatening to kill or cause serious harm to an officer of the State is a very serious issue and Inland Fisheries Ireland would like to thank An Garda Síochána for their help in bringing this case before the courts.

“Fisheries officers are charged with the protection of valuable and often threatened fish stocks and this work is essential to ensure the protection of Ireland’s native fish species.

“We have to remember that the River Shannon is closed to salmon fishing because salmon stocks are significantly below levels that maintain a healthy, sustainable population.”

To report suspicions of illegal fishing, members of the public are encouraged to call IFI’s new confidential hotline number on 0818 34 74 24, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Published in Angling

Irish Water has admitted multiple counts over a pollution event that threatened vulnerable freshwater pearl mussels in a Co Cork river, as The Irish Times reports.

The water utility pleaded guilty to eight counts of breaching is licence terms in connection with highly elevated levels of ammonia and orthophosphate in run-off from a treatment plant in Boherbue, in the northwest of the county.

The case was brought by the Environmental Protection Agency, who gave evidence to the court on the status of the rare mussels in the protected conservation area of the Brogeen River.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has confirmed that it is seeking a judicial review into the granting of an aquaculture licence for Atlantic salmon at in Bantry Bay.

As the matter is due before the High Court tomorrow, Tuesday 28 September, and the State agency with responsibility for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats says “it will not be possible…to make any further comments at this stage in the process”.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, a licence was granted by the Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board this summer — following a protracted appeals process over several years — to Mowi Ireland for an 18-pen facility at Shot Head in Co Cork.

Published in Aquaculture

Two men in Dundalk have been convicted of illegally killing pike and have been ordered to pay fines following prosecutions taken by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

Ernestas Gaska, with an address on Riverside Drive, received a €300 fine following his conviction at Dundalk District Court on Thursday 2 September.

Also in Dundalk District Court on the same date, Arturas Bagvilas, with an address on Bothair Na Carraig, received a €300 fine following his own conviction.

IFI fisheries officers — who had been on routine patrol in the area of Drumcah Lough, some 8km west of Dundalk — outlined the facts of the case before Judge Eirinn McKiernan of how Gaska and Bagvilas had been observed in the act of illegal fishing on the lake, taking and killing pike on Sunday 11 October 2020.

The pair’s boat was seized and as a statutory consequence of their conviction for use of a boat contrary to Section 285 (A)(1) of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959, the vessel is now automatically forfeited.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the State agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats initiated 119 prosecutions for fisheries-related offences in 2020, compared with 67 prosecutions in 2019.

It also seized 1,287 illegal fishing items last year, up from 788 items the year before.

Published in Angling
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