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Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) secured a conviction against Mr Bryan O’Neill, a riparian landowner on the Munster Blackwater, for removing spawning gravel during last summer’s drought.

On Tuesday 16 July, Judge John King convicted Mr O’Neill at a special sitting of Mallow District Court under Section 173 1 (d) of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959 for disturbing spawning beds at Gortmore, west of Mallow on the upper Blackwater.

The court heard evidence from Senior Fisheries Environmental Officer (SFEO) Andrew Gillespie that on or around 1 July 2018, large amounts of spawning gravel had been excavated from the river and deposited at a disused quarry adjacent to the river.

Evidence was heard concerning tracks leading from the river across Mr O’Neill’s land to the quarry. The scale of the extraction led SFEO Gillespie to believe the gravel was being removed for commercial reasons.

The court also heard of IFI’s difficulties serving the court summons to Mr O’Neill and that ultimately the assistance of local gardaí was required to do so.

Mr O’Neill denied the charges and claimed that it was his brother who farmed the land and that he himself had been unaware of the gravel extraction until contacted by Cork County Council in September that year.

Convicting Mr O’Neill, Judge King advised the defendant that his evidence was “not credible”, imposed a fine of €500 and awarded costs of €3,388 to IFI.

Sean Long, director of the South Western River Basin District at IFI, said: “This is an important outcome for the Munster Blackwater and Inland Fisheries Ireland. Riparian owners cannot plead ignorance to avoid responsibility for illegal, damaging works carried out on their lands.

“The removal of so many tons of valuable spawning gravels for minor commercial reward demonstrates a callous disregard for the critically endangered indigenous salmonid and lamprey populations, as well as for the wider community that promotes and benefits from responsible angling practices the length of the Munster Blackwater.

“The maintenance of this vulnerable aquatic habitat is vital if we are to sustain and enable wild fish populations to thrive. We are working to protect, conserve and develop our natural fisheries resource which is of significant recreational and economic value to communities in Munster and across the country.

“We encourage all landowners to contact their advisers or Inland Fisheries Ireland before carrying out and works that may inadvertently damage watercourses on or adjacent to their land.”

Published in Inland Waterways

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has prosecuted Irish Water for two separate pollution incidents which occurred in Cavan last summer.

On Thursday 6 June, Judge McLoughlin twice convicted Irish Water at Cavan District Court under the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959 for allowing harmful substances to enter the water on two occasions in June last year.

Over 600 fish were killed as a result of one pollution incident while an important habitat for spawning and young fish was damaged as a result of the other.

The court heard evidence from fisheries inspector Cormac Goulding that on 19 June 2018, staff from IFI noticed that the river downstream of the Ballinagh Treatment Plant in Cavan was in very poor condition.

The water was cloudy and the river was covered in sewage fungus and algal growth.

Following an investigation, it was discovered that untreated sewage was being discharged from the water treatment plant and at the pumping station further downstream.

Irish Water issued a report to IFI in response to the prosecution which revealed that their computerised monitoring system had been offline for six days, which meant that no alerts had been received about the problem.

The effluent was being discharged into aquatic habitat suitable for spawning or young trout.

Judge McLoughlin fined Irish Water €3,000 and total costs of €4,679 were awarded to IFI.

A separate pollution incident occurred a few days later on 25 June 2018 in Cavan Town River.

Judge McLoughlin heard evidence from Ailish Keane, senior environmental fisheries officer at IFI, about how the pollution incident resulted in the death of hundreds of fish including 687 native brown trout.

An investigation found that the fish kill was caused by the release of sewage effluent into the river from an overflow culvert located under Farnham Street Bridge.

Irish Water were again convicted and fined €4,000 plus costs of €4,346.

Milton Matthews, director of the North Western River Basin District at IFI, said: “In both cases in Cavan, harmful material was discharged into local rivers and in Cavan town this resulted in a large kill of over 600 native brown trout, of all age classes.

“As it can take years for a waterbody to recover to its former condition following pollution incidents, it is crucial that robust management systems are in place to prevent avoidable incidents which can have a serious impact on our wild fish and their natural habitat.

“The restoration of the aquatic habitat and the maintenance of water quality is vital if we are to enable wild fish populations to recover naturally.

“We are working to protect, conserve and develop our natural fisheries resource which is of significant recreational and economic value to communities in Cavan and across the country.”

Published in Angling

A small sailing boat that was “erratically” zigzagging in the shipping lane delayed a cruise liner from entering Dublin Port, as the Irish Independent reports from a Dublin court.

The trial of two Crumlin men facing charges under the Maritime Safety Act and the Public Order Act is currently before Dublin District Court, following the incident on 1 June 2017 ahead of that year’s Dublin Port Riverfest.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Brian Stacey and Ronan Stephens were charged over the incident that prompted an early-morning chase up the River Liffey as far as Sir John Rogerson’s Quay.

It’s also claimed that the activity delayed the entry of the 4,000-tonne cruise liner Corinthian into the port.

The trial continues on Tuesday 18 June. Independent.ie has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Dublin Port

Two anglers recently appeared in court on charges relating to illegal fishing methods on the Cong River and fishing during the closed season.

On Thursday 23 May, Mindaugas Jenkus of Claremorris, Co Mayo and Dalius Bureninas of Birr, Co Offaly appeared in front of Judge Mary Fahy at Clifden District Court in respect of breaches of fisheries legislation on the Cong River which occurred on 9 September 2018.

Both defendants represented themselves and pleaded guilty to strokehauling (using a weighted instrument or device with a rod and line or otherwise to foul-hook fish) and fishing out of season on the Cong River.

Bureninas also pleaded guilty to a further charge of obstruction under Section 301 (7) of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959.

Fisheries officer Paul Reynolds outlined the facts of the case to the court, while assistant fisheries inspector Barry Kelly also told the court that the Cong River was a very important salmonid fishery with has a large run of Atlantic salmon and a good stock of brown trout.

It is also of particular conservation interest in relation to ferox trout, for which the river is renowned.

The Cong River is one of the main tributaries of Lough Corrib, and is one of the most important salmon rivers in the west of Ireland

Fisheries inspector Pat Gorman stated that these offences were very serious due to the conservation status of the Cong River, when asked his opinion by Judge Fahy.

The judge commented on how serious a matter these offences were and referred to Bureninas giving a false name and address when lawfully demanded. She also noted that Mr Jenkus had a recent conviction for a similar fisheries offence.

Judge Fahy stated that if both defendants paid costs of €600 each to the court at a sitting of Clifden District Court on 26 September, she may deal with the matter by way of a somewhat reduced fine.

She also warned both men to be on their best behaviour and not to come to the attention of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) again as there was a risk of a custodial sentence being imposed.

“The Cong River is one of the main tributaries of Lough Corrib, is one of the most important salmon rivers in the west of Ireland and provides habitat for a very unique salmonid sub-species, ferox trout,” said IFI chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne when commenting on the case.

“The Cong River is closed to angling during September as a conservation measure relating to both Atlantic salmon and ferox trout. The river attracts many anglers and tourists annually to fish for these unique wild salmonid species.”

Published in Angling

The owner of an angling centre from Moycullen was convicted at Galway District Court last Tuesday 5 February for the illegal use of a net and for possession of an unlawfully captured trout.

The court heard that Michael Canney, with an address at Portarra Lodge, was approached by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) fisheries officers on the morning of 25 June 2018 as he was hauling an illegal net into a lake boat on Lough Corrib.

Diorai Ford, solicitor acting for IFI, outlined to the court that fisheries officers had covertly kept the illegal net under surveillance throughout the night.

The net had been fishing since the previous evening when it was discovered during a routine fisheries patrol.

Canney was accompanied in the boat by a foreign student who was staying with him where he operates an angling centre.

When Canney retrieved the net into the boat, it contained one dead brown trout. While in the act of lifting the net, Canney was approached by a fisheries officer on a personal water craft.

Canney was co-operative throughout. The equipment used in the commission of the offences was seized and included a lake boat and engine.

Solicitor for the defendant, Sinead Fitzpatrick, stated in his defence that Canney had a group of Italian anglers staying with him at the time and he was undertaking a survey to see what fish stocks were in the area.

Judge Mary Fahy commented that she knew several people who fish legally on a regular basis on Lough Corrib and that Canney was a mature man and that he knew that what he was doing was illegal.

Judge Fahy convicted Mr Canney on both counts, and imposed a fine of €500 for the use of an unlawful net, along with a fine of €500 for the possession of an unlawfully captured trout.

Costs of €600 were awarded to IFI’s solicitor. The boat and engine that Canney used in the commission of the offences were also forfeited.

IFI chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne said: “Lough Corrib is considered Ireland’s finest wild brown trout fishery and is also a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) designated for the protection of numerous aquatic species including Atlantic salmon.

“Lough Corrib attracts a vast number of anglers from all over the world who enjoy the unique angling for wild brown trout, Atlantic salmon, pike and coarse fish that the lake offers.

“This conviction reflects the long hours that dedicated fisheries officers spend on a daily basis in protecting our valuable fisheries resource.”

Published in Angling

#FishKill - Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) prosecuted Irish Water yesterday (Tuesday 5 February) at Ballina District Court for the discharge of a harmful substance into the Ballycorrigan River on 17 May last year, causing a fish kill.

Among the fish mortalities were 100 brown trout of different age groups, three juvenile salmon and one stone loach which were killed when a cleaning substance was discharged into the river.

Judge Patrick Durcan heard evidence from Michael Fitzsimons, a senior fisheries environmental officer with IFI, that a detailed investigation was carried out following a pollution report received from the general public.

It found that the fish kill was caused by a combination of effluents arising from an uncontrolled maintenance event from Irish Water’s Ballina/Killaloe wastewater treatment plant.

Irish Water entered a guilty plea. Judge Durcan directed Irish Water to pay IFI’s legal costs of €2,290 and fined the body €2,500.

Judge Durcan stated that Irish Water did not take into consideration the environment and conditions when discharging into the river and that Ireland’s rivers are its most important natural resource.

He said that while these resources are maintained under the vigilance of Inland IFI, Irish Water needs to be vigilant, too.

Amanda Mooney, director of the Shannon River Basin District with IFI, said: “Irish Water co-operated fully with Inland Fisheries Ireland’s investigation and updated its cleaning protocols for the use of chemicals in treatment plants nationwide with more appropriate methods now in use as a direct result of this incident.

“Our fisheries resource is an extremely valuable asset, both from a recreational and economic perspective and it is crucial that we continue to protect and conserve it for future generations to enjoy.”

Published in Inland Waterways

One of the Kinsale RNLI volunteers honoured for their role in the rescue of 30 crew from the tall ship Astrid in July 2013 has been jailed for seven years on drug distrubution charges.

As The Irish Times reports, Liam O’Connell was sentenced to 10 years with three suspended after pleading guilty to possession of cannabis, cocaine and MDMA for sale or supply at his home just over a year ago.

At sentencing, the judge said O’Connell has exploited his status in the Kinsale community as an RNLI volunteer to participate in the drugs trade.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The developer behind scrapped plans for the Harbour Innovation Campus in Dun Laoghaire is taking legal action against a tech investor, as The Sunday Times reports.

Philip Gannon filed a High Court case last Wednesday (14 November) against Ian Lucey and his firm Lucey Technology citing “specific performance”, which is often an attempt to compel a party to fulfil contractual obligations.

Neither party would comment on the case, though it is understood to be separate to Gannon’s withdrawal of his Harbour Innovation Campus plans from Dun Laoghaire last month in the absence of a foreshore licence for the earmarked St Michael’s Pier site.

Previous to that, in September, Lucey wrote in a blog post on Medium that he had moved to “step back” from the project “as [Philip Gannon’s] Blond Capital undertook more management, in line with [Lucey Fund’s] model of being a small shareholder in a number of businesses.”

The Sunday Times has more on the story HERE.

Note: This piece has been corrected to remove a previous statement that Philip Gannon and Ian Lucey were business partners. The shareholder agreement clearly states that no partnership was created. We are happy to make this clarification.

Published in Dublin Bay

#FishFarm - Permission granted for a salmon farm to extract water from a Connemara lake is facing a judicial review, as the Connacht Tribune reports.

An Bord Pleanála recently greenlit plans by Bradán Beo Teo, the region’s biggest producing salmon farm enterrprise, to extract fresh water from Loch an Mhuilinn for cleaning and disease treatment purposes after the company was previously blocked by Galway County Council.

But now local environmental activists are behind a proposed High Court review of the way the planning board arrived at its decision.

The Connacht Tribune has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#Speedboat - A man has been sentenced to six years in prison for the manslaughter of a woman who died after his speedboat crashed in London three years agp.

According to The Guardian, Jack Shepherd (31) was absent from sentencing at the Old Bailey after skipping bail, and police currently have a warrant out for his arrest.

The jurors heard that in December 2015, Shepherd took his date Charlotte Brown (24) to his speedboat on the River Thames while both were under the influence of alcohol, and allowed her to drive the vessel at “full throttle”.

The boat crashed into a submerged log before capsizing and throwing both Shepherd and Brown into the river.

Brown showed symptoms of hypothermia and cardiac arrest when she was recovered from the water, and was pronounced dead later.

Neither Brown nor Shepherd was wearing a lifejacket, and Shepherd — who had previously been pulled over a number of times for speeding on the river — admitted in a police interview that he did not inform Brown, who had no boating experience, about the safety devices on board.

Police also said the speedboat itself had a number of defects, including a ‘wobble’ in its steering.

Mail Online has video recorded by Brown on her phone of part of the pair’s speedboat trip, in which she can be heard commenting that Shepherd was “going so fast”.

Judge Richard Marks QC, in his sentencing remarks, said Shepherd had a “totally cavalier attitude to safety”. The Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update
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