Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has appealed to landowners to make contact with the agency before carrying out works on or near watercourses.

It follows a prosecution taken in recent months by IFI against a landowner in Co. Longford.

IFI confirmed that a Co. Longford landowner was convicted and fined €1,000 and ordered to pay a further €1,727.91 towards costs and expenses at Longford District Court.

Image: Inland Fisheries Ireland

Inland Fisheries Ireland court case

Judge Bernie Owens convicted the man for carrying out works on the Aughnacliffe river on June 30, 2021 that involved the removal of a substantial amount of gravel from the channel of the river and causing the destabilisation of the bank.

The works were purportedly carried out in an area of spawning habitat for wild brown trout and IFI said that this disturbed and injured sensitive spawning beds and bank where the spawn or fry of trout may be.

The court heard evidence from senior fisheries environmental officer, Ailish Keane, as to the adverse impacts caused by the actions along the 90m section of the river.

Keane also outlined the negative long-term impacts that the works would have on the lifecycle of the brown trout for years to come.

Working with farmers

She explained that IFI staff frequently consult with farmers who want to carry out works in rivers and outline the way works should be carried out to avoid potential damage to fish life.

The Aughnacliffe river is a tributary of the Erne River Catchment which IFI said contains excellent spawning habitat for wild brown trout.

Director of the North West River Basin District at IFI, Milton Matthews said: “Unauthorised and unplanned instream works put undue pressure on our native fish stocks through loss or degradation of fisheries habitat and spawning areas.

“It is a landowner’s responsibility to get in contact with their agricultural advisor or Inland Fisheries Ireland before carrying out any works in or along on watercourses.

“Failure to do so may result in unnecessary and damaging impact to fisheries habitat and may be liable to prosecution.”

IFI has a confidential hotline number to enable members of the general public to report alleged incidents of water pollution, fish kills and illegal fishing – 0818 34 74 24.