#Poaching - A Claregalway man was convicted of an illegal fishing offence at a sitting of Galway District Court recently.
Niall O’Gorman, with an address at Kiltrogue, Claregalway, was found guilty on 2 February of possession of a net and obstruction of fishery officers at Kiltrogue on the Clare River on 27 May 2015.
Fines of €500 were issued on each charge, totalling €1,000, and costs were awarded to Inland Fisheries Ireland to the amount of €600.
Judge Mary Fahy heard evidence that fishery officers on patrol in the early hours of 27 May observed the defendant in a kayak, servicing and cleaning a net, before placing it in a bag. He then proceeded to a second net, fixed in the river, where the officers approached him.
O’Gorman made an attempt to flee in the kayak, necessitating one of the fishery officers entering the water to apprehend him.
The solicitor for the defendant asked for leniency, stating that her client had made a stupid mistake, that he was of limited means and that he accepted the serious nature of the offence.
Judge Fahy said that the defendant was obviously not a teenager and had acted in a very immature way. She commented further that she had heard a number of fishery cases recently and that this was the most serious, necessitating an officer to enter the water in the early hours of the morning.
The nets were forfeited, although the kayak was returned to O’Gorman, who gave an undertaking in court not to use the kayak for anything other than kayaking in the future.
Commenting on the case, John Conneely of Inland Fisheries Ireland commended the fisheries officers involved. He said: “Protection of fish stocks is vital to maintaining an extremely valuable natural resource for the benefit of local and tourist anglers. Recreational angling in Ireland is worth over €836 million to the economy and supports over 11,000 jobs.
"IFI staff are committed to protecting that resource, working in difficult conditions and bad weather to do so, and their vigilance and dedication is highly valued.”
Dr Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland, said: “The Clare River has unfortunately been the victim of environmental crime once again. This activity must be stopped to ensure that the important recreational amenity and its biodiversity are conserved for future generations.”