Crackdown on fish poaching launched

A poacher catches fish in a net
A poacher catches fish in a net

A major crackdown has been launched by the PSNI, Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) and Loughs Agency against fish poaching.

With the fishing season starting next month, Operation Salar was yesterday launched at the River Bush salmon station, Bushmills, in a bid to protect fish stocks across Northern Ireland.

The new initiative focuses on: encouraging the public to report suspected fish poaching; enforcing fishing regulations; increasing awareness of the legislation surrounding fishing; and the importance of protecting fish stocks.

A new public information leaflet by the Partnership for Wildlife Action was also launched in a bid to increase community awareness.

DCAL Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín, said: “It is vital that we protect and maintain our fishing stock. Preventing poaching is vital to ensure long-term conservation goals. The loss of any adult fish has the immediate effect of reducing the numbers available for anglers and in the longer term reduces the potential breeding stock in that water.

“We must ensure that the fishing of our loughs and waterways are managed so as to ensure both commercial and recreational fishing are maintained in the long term.”

Emma Meredith, PSNI Wildlife Officer, added that police have “recently trained local officers across Northern Ireland, including in the Moyle area, to tackle this crime”.

“I would urge members of the public to report suspicious activity to DCAL, Loughs Agency or PSNI depending on the location, as advised by the leaflet,” she added.

“The protection of salmon and fish in the rivers and lakes across Northern Ireland is important for our environment and the economy,” said chairman of the Partnership against Wildlife Crime poaching sub-group, Lyall Plant.

“I call on the public to get behind Operation Salar and use the leaflet to report suspicious activity and therefore undermine those who care little for protecting our fish stocks, now and for the future.”

John McCartney from the Loughs Agency encouraged people to report suspected poaching in the Foyle and Carlingford areas to them.