Two Ukranian men have been prosecuted for offences under the Fisheries Act.
Mullingar District Court heard that Andrej Grigorenko of 3 Rock Bridge and Roman Mogilevsky of 25 The Park, Wolstanhaven both in Celbridge jettisoned a cargo of fish and fishing equipment as they were pursued by Gardaí following an incident on Lough Ennell.
Shannon Fisheries Board made the case that at 7pm on Sunday September 2, 2007 the two men and two children were observed by fisheries officials as they seemed to be servicing a pike net from a 17ft boat at Butlersbridge.
They objected to the officials searching their boat and called their solicitor to satisfy themselves of the officials’ jurisdiction. They said they were unaware of the need for a permit to fish on the lake.
Gardaí were contacted when “a certain tension” was felt between the parties and fisheries’ officials found it necessary to place the fishermen under arrest. However they then drove away “at speed” towing their boat behind them.
They were stopped by Gardaí who recovered a number of items on the route including eight perch, 10 tench, four pike, 20 eels, and an assortment of nets.
Mr Nathan Jones BL told the court that the men had waited 25 minutes for Gardaí and were anxious to return to Dublin with their children. They had decided to fish at Lough Ennell because weather conditions had deteriorated and prevented them from going to another lake for which they had permits.
This was disputed by the fisheries board on the basis that there are no lakes in the region for which permits are not required. The boat worth €14,000 was also confiscated by the fisheries board.
Judge John Neilan accepted what he called a “minimal” offer of €1,000 compensation for the development of the fishery at Lough Ennell and commented on the generosity of the Shannon Fisheries Board who were not seeking to retain the vessel.
He also requested that each man make a voluntary contribution of €1,000 towards the costs of the Fisheries Board which under statute is not entitled to recoup the expenses incurred in pursuing a prosecution, a situation which he described as “unusual”.
If this was done, he said he would apply the Probation Act, otherwise the men will be fined a similar amount. He also expressed a curiosity that the men were able to reach their solicitor (who was not defending them in court ) at 7pm on a Sunday evening.
Judge Neilan recalled that the Lough Ree he knew in his childhood was now “a dead lake” where fish no longer jumped out of the water. The situation where “you’d want to bring our own pike and put them in” was “very sad” he said.
He was also critical of the “great tragedy” of our inland waterways which were “devastated by sewage from county councils”.
The men faced charges in relation to obstructing Dermot Broughan, entering a fishery without permission and having in their possession a pike greater than 50cm in length.