A landowner in Co Antrim has pleaded guilty to unauthorised river works.
Samuel McKeown of Ballynashee Road, Ballymena Co. Antrim, appeared before Ballymena Magistrates Court on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021.
The 58-year-old pleaded fifteen offences of the Fisheries Act (NI) 1966. namely unauthorised in-river works as outlined within Section 48.
Unauthorised river works
The case came to light back on April 8th, 2021. DAERA Fisheries Protection officers received notification of in-river works on the Glenwhirry river.
On arrival at a part of the river above Pigtail Bridge, it was evident that in-river works had taken place.
Officers proceeded to speak with McKeown and instructed him to cease all works. They stated that DAERA did not issue a Section 48 permit to permit these works to continue.
Landowners should apply for a section 48 permit by submitting their application to DAERA Inland Fisheries for consideration before any in-river works should take place.
The court heard that the landowner “refused” all requests to cease these works.
He was interviewed and again instructed to cease these works on four further occasions on April 11th, April 15th, April 17th, and June 10th, 2021.
In a statement, a DAERA spokesperson explained that the river Maine has stocks of migratory salmonids throughout the catchment, including the Kells/Glenwhirry river tributary.
Furthermore, routine electric fishing surveys monitor these stocks. The months of March, April and May are when salmon smolts are move prevalent in river systems as they migrate.
The judge adjourned sentencing until December 22nd, 2021, pending further court investigations.
“DAERA Inland Fisheries enforcement is committed to pursuing those whose actions have a detrimental effect on fishery habitat and fish passage.”
“If you are aware or suspect illegal in-river works or fishing, you should contact DAERA Inland Fisheries on 0300 200 7860 or outside office hours contact 0800 807 060.”
Other court news: