Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Pike fishing in Ireland - an update

Pike Anglers may be aware from recent coverage in the press that The Pike and Coarse Fish Bye Laws are being enforced in certain waters located in The Republic of Ireland by officers of (in particular) The Shannon Regional Fisheries Board, writes former PAC president Phil Wakeford.

This is likely to be linked to increased pressure from PAC and other pike angling organisations who have been lobbying for action to prevent the excessive and unlawful removal of pike and other coarse fish especially by continental and Eastern European anglers.

Whilst PAC supports wholeheartedly the protection of dwindling pike stocks in the Irish Republic we would like to point out to members and other visiting, conservation minded pike anglers the full extent of the Bye Laws so that they are aware when a potential breach is being committed, either by themselves or others.

. Fishing must be by rod and line only
. A maximum of two rods only to be used
. It is illegal to use live bait
. It is illegal to transfer live roach from one water to another
. The maximum number of coarse fish that can be taken by any angler in one day is 4 and none of these can exceed 25 cm in length
. It is illegal to take more than one pike per angler per day and such pike must not exceed 50 cm in length
. It is illegal for any person to have in their possession more than one whole pike (of less than 50 cm in length) or more than 0.75 kg of pike flesh in total
. It is illegal to have in ones possession more than 12 coarse fish for use as bait. As mentioned above only 4 of these can be caught on the day and the other 8 (maximum) must have been obtained from a authorised retail outlet and proof of purchase/receipt retained for inspection by Fisheries Board officials.

Your attention is drawn to the fact that a number of anglers have been found in breach of these regulation whilst fishing on Lough Derg in recent weeks. A Shannon Regional Fisheries vessel is patrolling the lough on a regular basis and checking for compliance with the Bye Laws. The vessel used to date is a semi-inflatable rib fitted with a high speed 90 HP motor.

Relatively minor breaches of the Bye Laws are attempted to be dealt with by the use of 'on the spot' fines of 90 euro. If the anger concerned will not or cannot pay this fine then the Fisheries Officer is empowered by Irish Law to confiscate/impound the angers tackle/equipment (including boats) pending further investigation. These officers apparently have the same powers as the Garda/Police.

When PAC members are approached they should first ascertain the identity of the Officers involved and enquire as to which of the above Bye Laws it is alleged that they are infringing. Details should be retained for future reference.It is uncertain at the time of writing whether having more than 2 rods in a boat constitutes a breach. Similarly if an angler were pleasure fishing for coarse fish and retained these in a keep net (as practiced by match anglers) whether this constitutes a breach.

There would appear to be a desire by the Fisheries Board to deal with matters via the 'on the spot' fine approach by we feel that if matters were to be dealt with through the courts then a body of hard evidence would be required including the statements of witnesses, photographs, bodies of fish etc. However the threat of reality of confiscation of expensive tackle/equipment would obviously prove very inconvenient and potentially expensive to the angler. It is believed that some foreign nationals using crude/cheap tackle are ready to hand this over as opposed to paying the 90 euro fine.

PAC will monitor these matters with interest and periodically update the blog accordingly.