Fisheries officer Stephen Byrne outlined how Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) intercepted Declan Ellard in possession of three wild bass and an 80m floating net at Carne Pier in Co Wexford on 14 April 2016. Ellard was also observed servicing the net using a boat.
Ellard had previously accepted under oath that he would never fish again at a Circuit Court hearing in 2012, during which he was prosecuted for illegal bass fishing by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA).
As a result of his prior conviction, prosecuting solicitor Caitriona Walsh sought an adjournment so that the matter could be dealt with in the Circuit Court with the consideration of the SFPA. Judge Chettle proceeded with the case and fined Ellard €400.
Net fishing for bass is illegal in Ireland due to low stock numbers, with angling for bass in the South East of Ireland on a ‘catch and release’ basis from January to June and a bag limit of one fish per day for anglers from July to December.
IFI and the SFPA have powers of prosecution for illegal bass fishing under the Bass (Conservation of Stocks) Regulation 2006. Those convicted of this environmental crime can be fined up to €5,000 per charge.
Angling contributes €836 million to the Irish economy annually and bass angling is a valuable resource to the South East of the country. Bass and sea anglers alone, including domestic and those visiting from abroad, have an annual expenditure of €168.6 million annually, which supports businesses and jobs in coastal communities nationwide.
David McInerney, director of the South Eastern River Basin District said: “This conviction under the Maritime Jurisdiction Act highlights that illegal fishing in the South-East will not be tolerated.
“Our fisheries officers are patrolling the waterways in overt and covert operations during the day and night with the aim of protecting and conserving this valuable fisheries resource which supports communities and provides a recreational amenity for all.”