To ask the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, pursuant to AQW 5736/11-15, which section of the Fisheries Act (Northern Ireland) 1966 covers the sending of warning letters; and to specify the offences for which warning letters have been sent.
The issue of warning letters is not covered under any section of the 1966 Fisheries Act. The Department has developed enforcement policy to include the option of a written warning as an alternative to prosecution in certain defined circumstances.
Warning letters may be issued where there is evidence that an offence has been committed, the offender has fully co-operated in the investigation and there are extenuating circumstances such as age (juveniles or the elderly) or a disability.
The Department is generally reluctant to prosecute juveniles, which would result in a criminal record that could impact on or impede their future career and development opportunities.
In each of the three cases referred to in AQW/5736/11-15 the written warnings were issued for placement of a net within the defined mouth of a river.
Answered On Date: 24/01/2012
To ask the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure what powers her Department has in relation to the removal of nets which are being used for illegal fishing; and whether she intends to seek further powers to tackle illegal fishing.
The Department has a range of powers under the Fisheries Act (NI) 1966 and subsequent regulations in relation to the removal of nets involved in illegal fishing activities. These powers relate to the type and construction of nets, the manner in which they are used, the placement of nets, when they are used and the type and size of fish caught.
It is considered that the current powers for removal of nets are adequate but this position is reviewed periodically.
Answered On Date: 24/11/2011
To ask the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure for her assessment of whether the Fisheries Act 1966 is fit for purpose; and if not, when she will begin consultations on a replacement Bill.
The Fisheries Act, as amended, has been in place for 45 years and I am aware that some of its provisions have been superseded by more recent European Directives. I consider that the Act still provides a sound foundation for the conservation and protection of fisheries and can address changing circumstances through the making of subordinate legislation.
A review of the Act would be resource intensive for DCAL and is not currently a priority for the Department.
Answered On Date: 14/11/2011
To ask the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure to detail the representations she has received on the issue of the illegal netting of fish on Lough Neagh; and what actions her Department is taking to address this issue.
Between October 2008 and the current date, I and my predecessors have received the following representations on the issue of illegal fishing which includes netting of fish on Lough Neagh.
13 Written Assembly Questions some of which are not exclusive to Lough Neagh but include Lough Neagh.
5 correspondence cases relating to all forms of illegal fishing on Lough Neagh.
1 invitation to discuss illegal fishing on Lough Neagh.
DCAL Fishery Protection Officers, under the management of Senior Fisheries Officers continue to undertake regular patrols on land and water around Lough Neagh and throughout the DCAL operational area. They also continue to undertake inspections of premises such as hotels, restaurants and commercial outlets to ensure that those businesses comply fully with the 1966 Fisheries Act and Fisheries Regulations.
DCAL will endeavour to make the best use of its own resources to protect and conserve fish populations in the DCAL operational area including Lough Neagh.
Answered On Date: 15/11/2011