Salmon poaching has “sky-rocketed” in Ireland since coronavirus

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Poached wild salmon fetches up to EUR 50 per fish on underground markets. Police also investigating alleged false imprisonment of fisheries protection officers.

Authorities are urging the public to be aware of illegally caught salmon or sea trout as the rates of salmon poaching have risen since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.

In a press release, Inland Fisheries Ireland wrote that Fisheries protection officers boarded a fishing boat off the Cork coast and seized 98kg of salmon and 256m of illegal net on Monday the 13th of July in the Cork district of the South Western River Basin District, South-West Ireland.

It was not an isolated incident as officers have done similar seizures in Donegal and Mayo (both West Ireland) in recent days.

Echo.live reported that the Gardaí (Ireland’s police service) were investigating the alleged false imprisonment of two inland fisheries staff who themselves were investigating salmon poaching off the Mayo coast, Western Ireland. It added that salmon can fetch up to EUR 50 on the black market sold from the back of cars.

It was reported that on Wednesday night, two fisheries officers boarded a boat they suspected of having been involved in poaching and then were taken out to sea against their will. Two of their colleagues who were involved in the operation have also made allegations of assault.

Francis O’Donnell, regional director of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) told the publication that Salmon poaching in this area has “sky-rocketed” since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.

In the press release, Dr Greg Forde, Deputy CEO and Head of Operations at Inland Fisheries Ireland, said: “We wish to highlight the importance of protecting migrating salmon and sea trout stocks against illegal fishing activity. The risk of targeted netting of salmon at sea remains the highest priority for our protection staff, who have seized 15 nets in the South Western River Basin region so far this season. Nationally a total of 91 nets, measuring 5,300 metres have been seized to date since the beginning of the year.”