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Coast Guard called after men fleeing fisheries officers entered Shannon Estuary

THE Coast Guard was called in after two men caught using a net to capture wild salmon entered the waters of the Shannon estuary during a foot chase with Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) officers, a court has heard.
At Kilrush District Court, IFI officer, Ray Byrne recounted the chase at Poulinadaree on the Shannon estuary on June 4 last year. he told the court that prior to the two men entering the waters, he warned them not to go in.
Mr Byrne said, “They were attempting to swim but in my mind it would have ended up as a bad result.”
He told the pair that he would contact the Coast Guard if they entered the waters.
Mr Byrne told the court that the Coast Guard came on the scene within 10 to 15 minutes but then the two men refused to get into the coastguard boat at the scene.
“At this stage,” said Mr Byrne, “they had come back up the shore where I was able to caution both of them and ask them to give me their details which they refused to do.”
In the case, one of the two men, Gareth Fennell (19) of Knocknahoon, Kilmurry McMahon, pleaded guilty to having in his control a net for the purposes of netting fish on the date.
Mr Byrne stated that Mr Fennell was servicing the 60-metre long net with another man and that a salmon was retrieved from the net on the date.
Judge Mary Larkin told the court: “It gives me no satisfaction to convict a 19-year-old but you should not to be netting salmon.”
The judge imposed a fine of €500 on Mr Fennell who has no previous convictions and stated that “no one is that innocent that you go out netting salmon”.
Solicitor for Mr Fennell, Michael Ryan told the court that his client “is easily led and a bit gullible for his age”.
Mr Ryan stated: “When I spoke to him, I don’t think he had fully thought through this particular expedition.
“I won’t say that he thought that it was a lark because it isn’t a lark and I don’t think he was the leading protagonist.”
Mr Ryan stated: “I have spoken to his parents and they are extremely disappointed and upset and no one in the family has even been involved like this before.”
Commenting on the outcome, director of the Shannon River Basin District with the IFI, David McInerney stated that the conviction “highlights the ongoing illegal activity occurring on the Shannon Estuary where salmon stocks are well below their conservation limit”.
Inland Fisheries Ireland recently revealed that over 13 kilometres of illegal nets were seized by its protection officers and inspectors around the country last year.
By Gordon Deegan

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