Aran Island Skipper seeks costs against State

Man was unsuccessfully prosecuted twice for alleged breaches of fishing regulations

An Aran Island skipper is seeking costs against the State after he was acquitted by two juries recently of breaching EU fishing regulations almost ten years ago.

John Conneely(37), from Gort na gCapall, Inish Mór, Co Galway, with an address at Cnoc an Óir, Rahoon, Galway, is seeking to recoup substantial legal costs against the State after it unsuccessfully prosecuted him twice this year in two lengthy trials at Galway Circuit Criminal Court for alleged breaches of fishing regulations.

Mr Conneely had been tried for four days last January before the same court and found not guilty by a jury of one breach of EU fishing regulations, for allegedly filling in his vessel’s log book incorrectly between January 19th and 26th 2006. The State prosecuted Mr Conneely a second time last week for two similar offences.

Mr Conneely again denied a charge of incorrectly filling in the vessel’s Log Book by failing to record the correct quantity of monkfish caught in ICES V11 (fishing zone) in contravention of Regulation 3 of the Sea Fisheries (Control of Catches) Regulations 2006.


He also denied a second charge of failing to record the correct quantity of monkfish caught in ICES V1 (fishing zone) in contravention of the same regulations.

The jury was directed by Judge Rory McCabe on the third and final day of the trial last week to find Mr Conneely not guilty of a third charge of retaining on board a quantity of monkfish in excess of the quantity permitted for a particular period, in contravention of Section 12 of the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 2006.

Seven prosecution witnesses, including Sea Fishery Protection officers based at Ros a Mhil, and Haulbowline in Cork, gave evidence at the trial along with naval officers from the Irish patrol vessel, Lé Niamh, who had boarded the Maggie C in April, 2006.

Mr Conneely gave evidence that he was not aware in 2006 that he had incorrectly filled in the log book as the State had not supplied him with maps showing the relevant ICES fishing zones.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) produces maps defining international fishing zones as an aid to fishermen in monitoring their EU quotas for different species of fish.

The prosecution contended it was Mr Connolly’s responsibility to obtain the maps himself. The jury held with Mr Conneely and unanimously acquitted him of both charges.

Following his client’s second acquittal, Mr John Kiely BL, defending, applied for costs against the State in relation to both trials. Mr Conor Fahy BL, prosecuting, asked for time to consult with the State in relation to the application for costs.

Judge Rory McCabe agreed to adjourn the application to July to give Mr Fahy time to make the relevant enquiries.