Mr. Frank Sheenan, of Dursey Sound, Co. Cork, and Mr. Denis Healy, of Cahergarriff, Castletownbere, Co. Cork were both convicted of illegal fishing at Bantry District Court on Thursday, 23rd February 2023.
Judge James McNulty heard evidence at an earlier sitting of an extensive operation by Inland Fisheries Ireland at Garnish Bay on June 28, 2022, which resulted in the seizure of an illegal 523 metre long net, 8 eight salmon and a van. Hearing that both men had previously been convicted of illegal fishing and had benefited from a Hardship Scheme introduced to compensate fishers who ceased salmon fishing, Judge McNulty ordered both to come to court with banker’s drafts to the value of €2,000 each.
The court also heard evidence that illegal salmon netting has far reaching consequences for vulnerable salmonid populations migrating along the coast to their spawning grounds.
On finalising the case at the February 23 sitting, Judge McNulty imposed fines of €2,000 each for breaches of Section 285(a) of the Fisheries Act 1959 (as amended) and ordered each to pay €250 by way of contribution to IFI’s expenses. Orders of Forfeiture were made in relation to the salmon and net. Each defendant was also found guilty of a breach of Article 3 of Bye-Law no. 857 of 2009 and Section 182(2) of the 1959 Act, which were taken into consideration.
Sean Long, Director of the South-Western River Basin District (SWRBD) at Inland Fisheries Ireland, welcomed the conviction, reiterating that illegal netting of migrating salmon can wipe out an entire year-class of stock in rivers with already declining populations.
Mr Long added: “These men had no consideration for the future of our salmon stocks nor for the social and economic value sustainable salmon stocks contribute to local economies supporting jobs and businesses. Maintaining biodiversity and protecting and conserving these precious fish is critical. This case sends out a clear message to those involved in illegal fishing – Inland Fisheries Ireland will use its full powers under the law to prosecute offenders through the courts.”
Inland Fisheries Ireland has a confidential 24-hour hotline number to enable members of the general public to report incidents of water pollution, fish kills and illegal fishing: 0818 34 74 24.
For more information on Inland Fisheries Ireland, visit www.fisheriesireland.ie.
- Section 285(a) of the Fisheries Act 1959 (as amended) prohibits the use of a boat or vehicle as an aid to the commission of a (fisheries) offence;
- Article 3 of Bye-Law no. 857 of 2009 prohibits the use of a drift net to take, attempt to take, or to fish for salmon or trout or to assist in such taking, fishing or attempt.
- Section 182(2) of the 1959 Act prohibits the purchase, sale or possession of any salmon or trout unlawfully captured.
- The Salmon Hardship Scheme was established 1 November 2006 to assist salmon commercial fishermen who previously fished in areas closed for conservation purposes and salmon fishermen who cease to fish for salmon.
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About Inland Fisheries Ireland (www.fisheriesireland.ie)
Inland Fisheries Ireland is a statutory body operating under the aegis of the Department of Environment, Climate and Communication (DECC) and was established under the Fisheries Act on 1st July 2010. Its principal function is the protection and conservation of the inland fisheries resource. Inland Fisheries Ireland promotes, supports, facilitates and advises the Minister on the conservation, protection, management, development and improvement of inland fisheries, including sea angling. Inland Fisheries Ireland also develops policy and national strategies relating to inland fisheries and sea angling and advises the Minister on the same (fisheriesireland.ie).