Fishermen call for inquiry

Members of the Lough Foyle Oyster Sub Committee staged their annual fishing protest at Moville pier yesterday.

Last year the Inishowen fishing group took part in a tense four-hour long stand-off with the Lough’s Agency at Greencastle which involved Gardai and bailiffs.

A number of the fishermen were later charged for illegal fishing and are due before the courts later this year.

Though the oyster season doesn’t officially start until 20th September, the group staged the protest, yesterday to mark what they consider to be the official start of the oyster season.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ yesterday the group’s spokesperson Batty Connell said they weren’t on the Foyle to fish but that they were only doing it in protest against the Lough’s Agency.

Mr Connell said he fully expected to receive the same charges this year as they received on the stand off in Greencastle last year.

“We’re here to protest at the loss of our fishing rights,” the Greencastle man said. “We want to protect the traditional rights of fishermen.”

In a statement released to the ‘Journal’, the group claim the main reasons for the demonstration was to highlight their concerns about what they alleged is happening on in Lough Foyle and to make people aware of the damage that has been done to the public oyster fishing beds over the past 15 years.”

The group believe there is a need for and have called for an independent public inquiry into the running of the Loughs Agency.

Gardai were called on the scene last year when bailiffs from the Lough’s Agency unsuccessfully attempted to board the Lough Foyle Oyster Sub Committee member Liam O’Brien’s 35 foot boat Liam O’Brien the Cailin Helen.

At the time Mr O’Brien and chairman of the group Mr Paul McLaughlin told the Journal they refused to let the bailiffs board their boat – as requested – because they say they don’t recognise them as having any jurisdiction in the Foyle.