Authorities have warned fishers of “zero tolerance” for netting illegally-caught salmon, especially in rivers where stocks are already far below where they should be.
Two prosecutions in February related to fishing illegally on the Rivers Nore and Barrow resulted in convictions for two men at Kilkenny District Court, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) said.
The first case saw a Wexford man plead guilty to illegal netting, the possession/control of four salmon, and the refusal to give the name and address of another person when lawfully demanded.
The breaches occurred on July 22 last year on the River Barrow, near Bauck in Carlow, with Judge Geraldine Carthy warning the man that a repeat conviction could lead to a jail sentence.
He was ordered to pay €800 in fines and costs, with the same results applying to another case that came before Judge Carthy that day.
In the second case, a Waterford man pleaded guilty to the offences of illegal netting, the possession of seven salmon and the refusal to give the name and address of another person when lawfully demanded.
IFI said when the man was apprehended, he was found to be in possession of seven dead salmon in his vehicle.
Precarious position for stocks
IFI director of the South Eastern River Basin District Lynda Connor said fishing for salmon illegally was exacerbating an already precarious position for stocks in the region.
“On the River Barrow and the River Nore, salmon stocks are well below their conservation limit and require protection. This type of illegal activity can have devastating effects on future stocks of salmon.
“These two convictions highlight the ongoing issue of illegal netting for salmon and IFI’s zero tolerance of this serious misconduct,” Ms Connor said.
The latest convictions follow a hefty fine issued in Kerry District Court in December.
IFI told the court that works carried out by a farmer had damaged sensitive spawning beds for salmon on the River Gaddagh.
The river is considered an important spawning habitat for Atlantic salmon, a species protected under Irish and European law, IFI said.
IFI officers said they discovered substantial amounts of spawning gravel removed from the river and stock-piled along a 250m section of bank.
Heavy machinery tracks were recorded across the riverbed, the protected spawning gravels and on both banks, they said, while the engine of a tracked earth mover at the site was hot when discovered.
Convicted and fined
The farmer was convicted and fined €3,300 plus costs.
Environment minister Eamon Ryan said in December that 83 rivers for salmon and sea trout fishing will be opened in 2021.
“This will allow careful management of this important natural resource, for which conservation will be to the fore,” he said.