Jail for Irish salmon poachers who assaulted inspectors

Published on
October 17, 2022
A wild Atlantic salmon caught in Ireland.

Three men from the west of Ireland have been convicted of false imprisonment, assault, and obstruction in relation to an effort they made to evade law enforcement officers who were pursuing them for alleged illegal fishing.

The men were also convicted of possessing illegally-caught wild Atlantic salmon in charges brought by Inland Fisheries Ireland. Each received six-month jail terms – suspended for two years – and were also ordered to pay EUR 2,500 (USD 2,490) each to charity.

In July 2020, officers from Inland Fisheries who suspected that the men had illegally-caught wild Atlantic salmon attempted to board their fishing vessel, tied up at Belderrig Pier on the Ireland’s northwestern coast. The officers were obstructed and assaulted when they sought to board the vessel.

After knocking one of the officer overboard, the men took the boat out to sea, with the two other officers aboard, and refused to return the boat back to port. When the boat did eventually return to port, the three men were arrested.

Welcoming the convictions, Inland Fisheries Ireland CEO Francis O’Donnell said the officers’ bravery meant “a major illegal fishing gang has been stopped and brought to justice.”

Inland Fisheries Ireland oversees the protection of freshwater wild Atlantic salmon stocks, which have been in decline in the past two decades, with fewer numbers migrating into Irish rivers.

“This very serious case sends out a clear message to those involved in illegal fishing – we will use our full powers under the law to protect people doing their jobs and to prosecute offenders through the courts,” O’Donnell said.

Photo courtesy of Inland Fisheries Ireland 

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