Co Down fisherman gets tough on poachers

Published Thursday, 24 July 2014
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A Co Down fisherman, with the help of a young people's community organisation, has joined in the fight to tackle illegal poaching from Northern Ireland waterways to protect stocks for future generations.

The summer months are often the busiest time of the year for water bailiffs as poachers take advantage of the salmon season.

Last year 120 people were prosecuted for illegal fishing and the Loughs Agency seized over 100 illegal salmon nets.

Fisherman Nathan Smyth from Hillsborough has joined with Fixers - the campaign that gives young people a voice - to raise awareness of the problem.

The 24-year-old has been fishing since the age of four.

He said: "There's nothing better than hooking your first fish and I'd love for my daughter to get into fly-fishing the way I did.

"But unless something is done by the authorities to combat poaching the future isn't looking good."

He went on: "People have been using machetes and baseball bats and people have been threatened with knives - and it's just fishing.

"It's just a recreational activity.

"There needs to be more money put into bailiffing, but also people need to know that what they are doing is wrong."

Lee Mawhinney, a fishery protection officer said he has had to deal with confrontation and aggression from salmon poachers.

He said: "You'd get a lot of people that are just ignorant, they know they need a licence but they just take the risk and get caught.

"Then there are other people that haven't been educated and don't know and there's different waters that need different types of licences and permits so it can get confusing at times."

Nathan, with the help of Fixers, has produced a poster campaign to raise awareness of the issue across all of the local waterways.

He added: "I hope this will go some way to protecting our fish stocks.

"Hopefully it will make people aware of what they are doing is wrong.

"I'd love to see my nephew and daughter be able to go into a river, just to spend the day and have far better fishing than even I've experienced, because there's no other experience like it."

© UTV News
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5 Comments
lorna in belfast wrote (54 days ago):
i would say you want to get out more, but clearly if there is no better feeling than killing an animal and watching it suffer then you need to stay in more!
monsignorfitz in County Down wrote (55 days ago):
Detailed maps of where you you can fish and with which permit needed should be provided.
Belfast in Belfast wrote (56 days ago):
Its a joke that you have to pay for a license and a day permit to fish in natural rivers and waterways! None the less using nets to poach fish wont be good for fishing in the future. There should be more events and education on fishing.
belfast in belfast wrote (56 days ago):
This needs addressed big time. sickens me and other decent people who pay our way to use these waters when ppl just feel the need to not pay their way. Also the baliffs do a great job but need to get more baliffs on to northern irelands waters
Ryan in Belfast wrote (56 days ago):
Well done guys in raising awareness. Lets hope the ignorant can be educated.
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