Poaching – An Unbiased View

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Much has been said and written now over the last few years with a regard to the removal of coarse fish stocks by the new arrivals into this country. Of late I have said very little but watched, listened and gathered my own data. The complexities of the situation are enormous and perhaps under the present laws of this land almost insolvable. I would now like to pass my comments in a sensible and constructive way.

There are now living amongst us folk of many different nationalities and creeds. It cannot be argued that amongst many that have made Ireland their adoptive home new skills plus many old ones have been brought across the sea with them. Many are industrious hard working folk, pleasant in demeanour and an asset now and maybe for generations to come. It is often discussed how their old traditions have also followed them and perhaps because of language difficulties it is arguable that they find it difficult to understand the very laws by which they are expected to abide. Therefore many argue that when the subject of taking fish raises it’s much mooted ugly head these folk are only doing what they did in their own country on a perfectly legal basis. It is an argument often put forward by members of the very establishment who are paid to protect whatever swims in our rivers streams and lakes. Indeed once having a discussion with a member of said organisation he stated that they were only doing what they think is right. Not so I’m afraid! Recently there has been a much publicised case in  the UK where a Polish national, Sebastian Nowoslad who now works as a bailiff for the Bridgewater AA in Somerset caught two of his fellow countryman with a bucket full of small dead rudd  plus a filleting knife. Neither had a current fishing licence which as most of you know is compulsory over the water. An altercation took place which resulted in the bailiff ringing the English EA. He was told that although Somerset has 32 full time EA bailiffs none were available to help him. The local police adopted a similar stance and the upshot of it was that both offenders went unpunished. Now hears the real rub! I now quote Mr Nowoslad. He stated, ‘These people know the law not only here but in their own country. In Poland it is illegal to take these small fish and if every body keeps on taking them here we will have none left. This will later in my column bring me to make certain comparisons but more of that later. The bottom line is that these folk do know they are breaking the laws in the country that is now being so good to them.

Hysteria. Yep many of us have been accused of it. I have been on ocassions hung on that wall myself and yes I do concede that there is quite a bit about. According to some every foreign national has a trawler complete with trammel  nets parked in his back yard. Maybe I exaggerate a little on this one but I’m sure you get my point and have heard similar stories up and down the country.

Having said that let me tell you of some of the things that are actually taking place. Last year Paul Byrne from Dublin was here for a few days fishing his favourite lake for tench. As the evening approached he became aware of noises coming from the road behind him. On investigation he saw four men alite from a white transit van. Three got over the hedge whilst the fourth threw to them a number of long wooden poles and a bag with a large net inside. This was clearly visible through the top of the open bag. Paul immediately left the water and came to my house. The time was approx 2200 hours. I gave him the fisheries hot line number. For those of you who don’t know it it’s 1890 34 74 24. It is allegedly open 24 hours per day and if so wouldn’t you think hot info’ would be acted upon accordingly. Paul rang the number and an actual person answered the phone, not an answering machine. Paul related his story and was given a case number. Several minutes later his mobile rang and it was another chap from the IFI. Paul once again his story. Much to his amazement he was then told that employees of the IFI would be working in Drumsna the following afternoon and he would get somebody to call at the lake to look for suspicious activity. Talk about closing the stable door after the horse had bolted. Also last year Steve Moran rang our local IFI man to report foreigners taking buckets of fish form Lough Lea. They were also using live baits for pike. Much to his dismay he was told that he wasn’t available as he was weighing in a match up at Gowna. Do you now get the comparison with Mr Nowoslads story.

Earlier this year Andrew Stainton, a visitor from Boston was fishing at Carnadoe Bridge. Four foreign gents pulled up behind him and got out of the VW Golf that they were using. Andrew was just about to put his fish back, around 70 in total when these chaps demanded his catch. When he refused to hand them over he was surrounded and the biggest guy kept jabbing him in the chest stating, ‘We take all your fish.’ Fortunately the cavalry arrived in the form of a rather large Irish gent who had seen what was taking place and joined forces with Andrew. Four other lads then arrived and the fish thieves were persuaded to go away.

In May this year two visitors from the UK, Steve Ellis and Nigel Jelley were fishing Finn Lough. When they peered into the clear water they saw what appeared to be distressed tench. Further investigation revealed these fish were trapped in what looked like crude nets. They removed them from the water and let the fish go bringing the nets away with them. They were triangular in shape with a funnel at one end. If a fish swam in, it simply couldn’t get out. Others report tench heads and tails thrown up the bank on the same water. Last year Pete Britton, another UK visitor accompanied me to Rathmore lake where we removed a home made gill net over 50 yards long. It was suspended on plastic milk bottles. We removed the fish from it and after taking photographs burned it. Recently I was given reports of a dark VW van with foreign folk in it taking fish at the Silver Eel and Tarmonbarry. I suspect it was the same vehicle that I reported to the IFI HQ at Drumsna over two years ago. Local  folk reminded the driver and his two mates that what they were doing was rather naughty and told them to go away.

Slightly further afield my mate Tiny Shannon and his friends tell me they have removed several of these people from Lough Gara who had trout and pike in their possession.

These stories I quote all have a reliable source. They have also take place within just a few miles of my home. I ask you to consider the grand scale of things.

To summarise. It is happening and the threat is very real. What’s to be done. Your guess is as good as mine. Taking the law into your own hands is neither right or advisable. Perhaps well publicised jail sentences could be the answer. Will it happen. I fear not. Political correctness or whatever they call it these days will see to that. Perhaps what we will have to do is do what other do. Turn a blind eye while our precious fish stocks carry on being decimated.

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