Judge gives fisherman ‘benefit of doubt’ in row over oyster dredges

A fisherman was cleared of fishing without a licence after a judge ruled the authority which provides the licence was unclear. Jason Steele, of Lower Cabry, Quigley’s Point, was accused of fishing without a licence on Lough Swilly on September 21, 2015. He denied the charges before him at Carndonagh District Court. Fishery officer Seamus Bradley told the court he received a report of illegal oyster fishing on Lough Swilly so at 12.45pm on September 21 he launched the patrol boat from Rathmullan. Mr Bradley said himself and fishery officer James Doherty checked a number of boats for licences and undersized oysters. He explained how they boarded a boat fishing vessel, belonging to Mr Steele, which was fishing for oysters on Russell’s Bed. “I asked him if he had a licence to fish for native oysters on Lough Swilly, he replied no so I cautioned him. I observed 20-25kgs of oysters on board.” Mr Bradley said he seized the oysters and returned them to the oyster’s beds. He explained that Mr. Steele’s boat was 30 foot long with a large mechanical dredge on the back that is used for fishing for oysters. continue reading the story here 10:26