Three men have been found guilty of illegally fishing for Atlantic bluefin tuna off Baltimore Harbour in Cork.

Brian Hassett from Monkstown Co. Cork, Barry Keohane from Blackrock Co. Cork and Conor Jones Kildinan Co. Cork, were found guilty of illegally fishing for Atlantic bluefin tuna in waters south of Baltimore Harbour on October 10th 2022.

All three entered guilty pleas at Skibbereen District Court.

The court heard evidence from IFI Officer David Lordan who said he observed the men using a spreader-bar lure system for around 70 minutes before their vessel entered Baltimore Harbour.

Despite an application for a return of the seized fishing gear, the court granted Forfeiture Orders in respect of all items seized.

Details were also presented, at the hearing on March 14th 2023, of the importance of protecting Atlantic bluefin tuna and the research programme ‘Tuna CHART’, a catch and release tagging programme gathering scientific data through licenced recreational charters since 2019.

Mr Hassett was found guilty of a breach of Section 285(a) of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959 and fined €1,000. He was also found guilty of breaches of Article 4 (a) and 4 (b) of Bye Law 981 of 2020, which were taken into consideration.

Mr Keohane and Mr Jones were found guilty of breaches of Article 4 (a) and 4 (b) of the 2020 Bye Law, and both men received the benefit of the Probation of Offenders Act on bonds of €5,000 each for a period of three years.

Blue fin Tuna from Inland Fisheries Ireland’s Tuna CHART programme

About Atlantic bluefin tuna protections
The Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), a ‘giant of the sea’, averages 2m in length but can reach lengths of 4m, weigh up to 600kg and live up to 30 years. It frequents Irish coastal waters to feed during its migration through North Atlantic waters.

Bye-law 981 of 2020 (Control of Sea Angling Methods for Certain Species of Fish) provides for the prohibition of surface trolling from any vessel used for sea angling, targeting or catching any species of Tuna, Shark or Billfish. It also provides for the prohibition of having on board any vessel, gear or equipment capable of use for trolling surface fishing lines for any species of fish.

About the Tuna CHART programme
The Tuna CHART programme is a collaborative data collection programme between IFI and the Marine Institute in partnership with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications.