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Three men convicted of illegal fishing offences on river Shannon

THREE men have been sentenced after they were convicted of illegal fishing offences on the river Shannon in Limerick city.

Following successful prosecutions by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), two men were convicted of illegal salmon netting on the river Shannon while another man was been convicted of possessing an unlawfully-captured salmon.

Limerick District Court was told Damien Mallard and Calvin Hughes - both of St Mary's Park, Limerick - were observed by IFI officers setting a 100-metre salmon net from a boat, spanning almost the entire width of the river Shannon in Limerick city.

Separately, Ger Molloy, also of St Mary's Park, Limerick was convicted of possessing an unlawfully-captured salmon.  

Commenting on the cases, David McInerney, Shannon River Basin District at IFI said: “The lower River Shannon is open to salmon fishing on a catch-and-release basis only.  Salmon numbers in the river Shannon catchment are significantly below levels required to sustain a healthy natural population.

“Any illegal fishing puts further pressure on a very important and iconic wild Irish fish. In 1971, a total of 1.2 million wild salmon returned to Ireland. Last year, that number was just 171,697 – representing a fall of 86%.”

IFI is encouraging members of the public to report illegal fishing incidents, or those relating to water pollution, or fish kills, to its confidential phone number, 0818 34 74 24.

⚖️ @InlandFisherIE has secured convictions against 3 #Limerick men for illegal fishing offences, re #salmon, on the River Shannon.

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— Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) (@InlandFisherIE) September 25, 2023

The convictions, which were secured earlier this month related to an incident In the early hours of July 22, 2022 when IFI officers apprehended Mr Mallard and Mr Hughes and seized a net which the men had retrieved and brought onboard a boat.

With the assistance of An Garda Síochána the boat was also seized.

During a hearing on September 8, the court heard how Mr Mallard was previously convicted of an illegal fishing offences and that a four-month sentence was imposed in October 2020 but suspended for two years.  

As the date of the July 2022 offence was within the two-year period of the suspended sentence the sentence was invoked.  

Taking on board  his early plea, but also noting the seriousness of the offences, a one-month custodial sentence was imposed by the court.

Legal counsel for Mr Mallard indicated he would appeal the sentence with general bail conditions attaching to this appeal. This has the effect of staying the operation of the District Court order until such time as the appeal is concluded in the Circuit Court. 

Mr Mallard was ordered to pay the costs of IFI which totalled €560.

His co-accused, Mr Hughes, who pleaded guilty to the same illegal salmon netting offence, was fined €250, and ordered to pay €250 towards the IFI costs.

Separately, in another case heard on the same day,  Ger Molloy was convicted of possessing an unlawfully-captured salmon.  

The court heard how, on July 1, 2022, Mr Molloy was observed fishing for, and catching, a salmon by rod and line in the tailrace portion of the River Shannon. 

A fine of €250 was imposed and IFI was awarded costs of €250.