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High Court Rules In Favour of IFI In Gweebarra Fishery Dispute

23rd December 2012
High Court Rules In Favour of IFI In Gweebarra Fishery Dispute

#Angling - Judgement in the first module of a High Court trial over a long-running dispute between Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and local anglers at the Gweebarra fishery has been found in favour of the fisheries agency.

Ms Justice Laffoy delivered her judgement on Wednesday 19 November in the first part of a modular trial sought by IFI "to allow key issues to be determined in this first module with the objective of saving court time and costs".

The first module related to what IFI said are the most important sections of the Donegal fishery (both State and privately owned) that it manages - such as the well-known 'Mayo Pool'.

A key claim by defendants Peadar O'Baoill and others - who are opposed to changes in fishing arrangements introduced by IFI (then the Northern Regional Fisheries Board) in 2007 - was that they had acquired rights to fish freely without permits at the Gweebarra fishery by virtue of angling freely there for many years prior to the regulation changes five years ago.

IFI argued that if such rights were upheld, it would have made the 2007 arrangements "unworkable" as the rod management plan central to the changes was dependent on regulation by issue of permits.

However Ms Justice Laffoy rejected the defendants' claim in this regard, saying: “The reality is that the defendants have not established any right, public, or otherwise, to fish in the freshwater part of the Gweebarra River, including the part thereof the subject of this module.”

The court also determined conclusively that IFI has the right to manage, control and regulate both the State-owned and privately held freshwater sections of the Gweebarra fishery.

In her concluding remarks, the judge urged both parties to resolve their remaining dispute locally and out of court.

Commenting after the trial, IFI repeated its "previously stated position that it has absolutely no wish to be involved in proceedings of this nature and remains committed to the protection of the Gweebarra fishery in its entirety, the public portion of which is a state asset.

"It welcomes any initiative which will allow for sustainable management of the fishery into the future. It is happy therefore to seek to resolve the remainder of the dispute, but such would have to be found in the context of existing legal agreements with other stakeholders."

Published in Angling
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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