Gardai probe claim 200 tonnes of mussels stolen from Carlingford Lough
Police are investigating claims that up to hundreds of pounds-worth of mussels were stolen from the seabed in Carlingford Lough in Co Louth.
As part of the investigation, it is expected that the gardai will have to examine the exact location the mussels are said to have been illegally taken from in the eight-mile-long lough.
The thefts are believed to have taken place in recent weeks and sources said that up to 200 tonnes of the shellfish, which is famous around the world, could be involved.
A Garda spokesman confirmed "there is an investigation in to an allegation of the theft of mussels from Carlingford Lough and it is in the initial stages".
The spokesman would not confirm a value for the stock involved, but other sources put the quantity at up to 200 tonnes – that would put the value, based on the final price paid, at between €300,000 (£250,000) and €500,000 (£416,000).
"This is a market where demand drives the price that mussels get per tonne, and they are selling well at the moment," said a source. Sources also said it would be difficult to harvest and transport 200 tonnes of mussels without being noticed.
While the licences for mussel farming are allocated by the Republic's Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, a fishing source said, "there is nothing to stop a renegade coming along and starting to steal the mussels, but you would imagine other fishermen would see a strange boat".