Angler who didn't return big pike to water is fined for breaking law
An angler who landed a large pike more than a metre in length and weighing nearly 16lbs kept the fish to show to his friends - breaking laws designed to conserve stocks of the species.
Coleraine Magistrates Court heard yesterday that a fisheries officer spotted Damian Ignera (25), of Forth Glen in Cookstown, at the River Bann in August last year.
The defendant threw the pike - which weighed 7.16kg (15.78lb) - up the bank and did not return it to the river.
The case was brought by the Fisheries Conservancy Board for Northern Ireland.
In court Ignera admitted a charge of contravening a fishing regulation that pike weighing over 4kg must immediately be returned to the water without avoidable injury.
A prosecuting lawyer said that when approached Ignera had an electronic print-out of a fishing licence number, and he admitted landing the fish.
Ignera was fined £75 along with an offender levy of £15. He will also have to pay court and legal costs of £163.
District Judge Liam McNally noted Ignera had a fishing permit and would have been allowed to keep any fish under 4kg, but over that he had to put it back.
The Fisheries Board lawyer said pike over 4kg were "becoming more rare" and the regulation was in place in relation to conservation.
Judge McNally added: "The temptation for the fisherman is the bigger the fish, the more temptation to take it home."
Through an interpreter the defendant, who is originally from Poland, told the court that he wanted a "record" fish to show his friends that he had caught it.