A landowner in Co Longford has been ordered to pay a fine of €1,000, as well as contributing €1,727 to the costs and expenses of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), after Judge Bernie Owens of Longford District Court ruled in favour of the prosecution taken by the fisheries agency.

The judge convicted Colm Ginty of Dunbeggan, Aughnacliffe, Co Longford, on 12 April after IFI brought forward a case alleging that the removal of “substantial” amounts of gravel from a river was in breach of river protection laws.

The court heard that the works had taken place along a 90m stretch of the Aughnacliffe River on 30 June last year and was expected by IFI to have negative long-term impacts on populations of brown trout in that section of the river.

The works led to a disturbance of the river bed in an area of brown trout spawning habitat and destabilised a section of the river bank, according to IFI.

Prosecution caution

Speaking after the verdict, director of the northwest river basin district at IFI Milton Matthews reminded farmers that they must consult with IFI or their farm adviser when considering proceeding with works on or along rivers.

“It is a landowner's responsibility to get in contact with their agricultural adviser or IFI before carrying out any works in or along watercourses,” he said.

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

“Unauthorised and unplanned instream works put undue pressure on our native fish stocks through loss or degradation of fisheries habitat and spawning areas,” explained Matthews.