Two German anglers each fined £400 for fishing offences on Lough Key

 

TWO German anglers were each fined £400 yesterday for fishing offences on Lough Key near Boyle, Co Roscommon, last October. Their solicitor was told that had the law provided for a prison sentence, the judge "would certainly have considered it".

Neither Fritz Bentel, of Augsburg, Germany, nor Josef Austen, of Mundien, Germany, appeared before Judge Desmond Hogan at Boyle District Court.

Judge Hogan told Mr Paddy Duffy, defence solicitor, that he had put up the best possible defence without the two men being present, but he was satisfied they were caught perpetrating an act that was patently illegal" and he must convict them.

He fined each fisherman £150 for using live fish as bait in fresh water and £150 penalty for taking or killing a pike weighing more than 6.6 lb, contrary to the Conservation of Pike By Law 1990.

The men were also fined £100 each for angling for trout or coarse fish without a current share certificate issued by a fisheries co operative society.

Judge Hogan granted the application on behalf of Shannon Regional Fisheries Board for the forfeiture of the fishing rod and assorted tackle used by Bentel and Austen. The court was told that a fish finder had already been returned to them.

"If the legislature, in their wisdom, had provided for a custodial sentence, I certainly would have considered it," the judge said.

Mr Dermot Broughan, an assistant inspector with the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board, said he came upon the two German anglers fishing in separate boats near Drummans Island on October 6th last.

Mr Broughan testified to seeing the men hooking live fish through the dorsal fin for use as live bait and seeing live fish in a drum. After some trouble understanding him, the men released all the fish at his request.

Mr Broughan went with the anglers to their rented cruiser moored nearby and asked to see the contents of the freezer, which contained a pike's head.

"I was having great trouble conversing with them," Mr Broughan said. "They made no effort to converse with me.

The fisheries representative noticed a white rope trailing from the cruiser and found a basket containing, a number of fish attached to it.

His colleague, Mr Tony Robinson, discovered a live pike tied to the cruiser on the other side of the boat. This pike had been roped through the jaw, Judge Hogan was told.

The two officers released the pike, estimated at about 20 lb which was "in some distress". At this point the officers seized the fishing gear.

Mr Broughan did not have the defendants' names but traced them through their rented cruiser. Two days later he met them again and they wrote down their names and addresses for him.

The court was also told the men did not produce the required share certificates to allow them to fish.

Mr Duffy made submissions to the judge regarding all three counts but was told by Judge Hogan that he must convict in the absence of the accused men's evidence. He was satisfied on the testimony of the two fisheries officers that the anglers had been "caught perpetrating an act that was patently illegal".

The court was also told that the two men were experienced fishermen who had been coming here for many years.

"Well, they should know the rules then," replied Mr Noel Farrell, solicitor for the fisheries board.