Boat ram leads to illegal fish haul in Dungannon

A PATROL boat searching for illegal fishing activity on Lough Neagh was rammed by another vessel during a confrontation which led to a police raid on a Dungannon property.

The attack on Inland Fishery Officers took place in the early hours of August 2. Afterwards police seized 40 stone of illegally caught fish as well as an estimated six kilometres of illegal fishing net and a van from the property at Back Lower Road.

Among the seized fish were quantities of Pollon, Perch, undersized and out of season Brown Trout, undersize Roach, Bream and eels.

DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has praised those cracking down on illegal fishing activities across the region.

The Minister said: “Efforts such as this are part of the ongoing work from DCAL to clamp down on illegal fishing across the north. Inland Fisheries officers do a difficult and at times dangerous job patrolling waterways around the clock to combat illegal fishing and protect fish stocks.

“DCAL, in conjunction with other agencies and law enforcement bodies, is increasing its efforts to target large-scale illegal operations which are using increasingly sophisticated and organised methods to take fish.”

She continued:”Officers have the power to seize any equipment used to fish illegally, that includes everything from fishing rods and nets through to vehicles which take and transport fish.

“These continuing efforts, which are supported by the wider fishing and angling community, are vital to preserving our valuable natural resources.”

Ms Ní Chuilín said that illegal fishing not only impacts upon legitimate fishermen and anglers, but highlighted that it does untold damage to underwater ecosystems.

“At a time when we are looking to defend our fishing stocks, those who fish unlawfully are destroying lifecycles and disrupting breeding patterns.”

She said the department’s officials are working on lakes, river banks and through the courts to deter, apprehend and prosecute illegal fishing.