Wednesday 21 August 2019

Cross-border operation launched to tackle fish poachers in Tyrone

(L-R) PSNI Insp. Marty Mullan, Lionel Knobbs (area fisheries inspector, Loughs Agency), PSNI Sgt. James McLaughlin, John McCartney (Director of Conservation and Protection, Loughs Agency) and An Garda Siochana Supt. Martin Walker.
(L-R) PSNI Insp. Marty Mullan, Lionel Knobbs (area fisheries inspector, Loughs Agency), PSNI Sgt. James McLaughlin, John McCartney (Director of Conservation and Protection, Loughs Agency) and An Garda Siochana Supt. Martin Walker.

Evie Kearney

A new operation has been launched to tackle wildlife crime in Strabane, Co Tyrone amid increasing concerns of fish poaching in the area.

'Operation Silver Fin' is a joint initiative from An Garda Siochana, the Loughs Agency, PSNI and the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Fin Group.

PSNI Sergeant James McLaughin said that the force are "committed" to tackling wildlife crime and hope that the operation will encourage locals in the area to report poaching.

"Wildlife crime is taken extremely seriously by the Police Service of Northern Ireland," he said.

"The significance of this kind of crime cannot be over stated. At the most serious level it can have a direct impact on the economic, environmental and cultural lives of communities and can also negatively affect the conservation status of some native species."

The initiative will focus on wildlife crime by enforcing fishing regulations and increasing awareness of the legislation surrounding fishing and the importance of protecting fish stocks.

According to Wildlife Crime Ireland, a wildlife crime is defined as "any act that contravenes current legislation governing the protection of wild animals and plants."

Fish poaching is only permitted in certain areas as it uses long lines and nets while anyone fishing requires a licence and must obey regulations around specific times, methods and size limits.

An Garda Síochána Superintendent Martin Walker said: "I fully endorse the collaborative efforts of all the enforcement agencies associated with this wonderful initiative to robustly challenge the illegal activities associated with all forms of fish poaching.

"The development of cordial working relations and partnership is fundamental to the success of this and similar initiatives which we in An Garda Síochána have developed with other stakeholders e.g. Inland Fisheries Ireland (Sea Trout & Salmon), NPWS (Illegal Catching of Cray Fish) and focal coarse angling fishing clubs.

"Continued enforcement action is essential in addressing this major wildlife crime."

The Loughs Agency are responsible for the conservation of marine life in the Foyle and Carlingford areas and will be heavily involved in the operation to increase protection of fish stocks.

Loughs Agency’s Director of Conservation and Protection John McCartney, said: "Our Fishery Officers work tirelessly patrolling the rivers, loughs and coastlines of our catchments for illegal fishing activity.

We encourage anyone who suspects illegal fishing in the Foyle or Carlingford catchments to call our 24 hour Response Line on +44 (0)2871 342100”.

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