Press Release

IFI welcomes conviction for the possession of a record 16 illegal salmon nets in Donegal

Two men have been convicted of possessing 16 illegal salmon nets near the River Drowes in Co. Donegal.

Philip and Eoghan McCluskey of Bundoran, Donegal, received fines and costs totalling €6,000 in relation to the offence, which occurred on the 25th July 2021 on the Drowes River, Magheracar, Bundoran.

Among the items in the father and sons’ possession on the night were two large holdall bags, which contained 16 nets, wooden pegs, 20 empty coal sacks, balaclavas, a knife, a throw line, binoculars, and a camouflage jacket which was covered in wild salmon scales.


The case was heard at Ballyshannon District Court on Friday, the 21st April 2023.

Commenting on the case Francis O’Donnell, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), stated: “This illegal operation was halted by a professional team of Fisheries Officers through a significant covert operation. The two men had 16 nets in their possession when caught, and 20 empty coal bags to place fish in to.

“IFI was established in 2010, and in that time there has never been a seizure of such a quantity of nets used for the illegal capture of fish in fresh water. The potential impact of these nets on the River Drowes would have been catastrophic for the salmon population.

“IFI will not tolerate this behaviour on any Irish river. We will continue to prosecute those who persist in poaching. I would like to commend all our Fisheries Officers for their commitment in dealing with this type of ecological crime.”

The IFI Mobile Support Unit (MSU) for fisheries protection, and local fisheries staff, discovered evidence of possible illegal activity taking place on the lower Drowes River.

The MSU, working together with local Fisheries Officers, carried out covert surveillance of the river which led to the defendants being apprehended.

Welcoming the court’s judgement Dr. Milton Matthews Director of IFI’s North West River Basin District stated: “Salmon stocks have never been under more pressure from illegal fishing, habitat loss and climate change. The River Drowes represents one of the last strongholds for Atlantic salmon in the Northwest of Ireland. The apprehension of these offenders and seizure of this quantity of poaching equipment represents a significant boost to safeguarding this valuable natural resource.  

“Members of the public can report any suspected instances of illegal fishing, fish kills or water pollution, by calling Inland Fisheries Ireland’s confidential number on 0818 34 74 24.”


Photo caption: Seizure of nets and other items by Fisheries Officers

For media queries contact: Sadhbh O'Neill, Communications Officer, Inland Fisheries Ireland / 087 101 9998

Notes to Editors

About Inland Fisheries Ireland

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is the State's environmental agency responsible for protecting, managing and conserving Ireland's inland fisheries and sea angling resources. IFI operates under the aegis of the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, and was established under the Inland Fisheries Act on 1st July 2010.