Allegations of widespread poaching in County Leitrim have led to calls for extra policing of the lakes.

The Lough Allen Conservation Association has taken a court case to implement legislation from 1959 which allows the appointment of unpaid water keepers with powers similar to those of paid water bailiffs.

Seán Wynne of the Lough Allen Conservation Association outlines the work that the eighteen volunteers do on the lake. Sixteen of these volunteers operate as an undercover team.

Concerns about poaching emerged when a major consignment of fishing nets was discovered three years ago and again last year three large containers of nets were found at the northern end of the Lough Allen. There was enough netting to cross the entire one and a half miles width of the lake.  

Allegations of poaching are not confined to Lough Allen and evidence has been found on other lakes in the Mohill region.  Councillor Gerry McGee describes the widespread suspicious activity taking place at night on the lakes. While nets have been confiscated, nobody has been caught in the act of illegal fishing.

Work to provide access to eight lakes is currently underway in an effort to promote angling tourism to the region. The presence of poachers is not helping this effort according to JJ O'Rourke, Chairman of the Mohill Development Association.

We’re interested in promoting angling and tourism in this area and we certainly wouldn’t like to think people are coming in and plunging our lakes.

Gerry McGee believes that a policing authority is required to deter illegal activity.

The Shannon Regional Fisheries Board is responsible for fisheries protection in the area. Minister for the Marine John Wilson has requested a full report from the Fisheries Board into the allegations and a Garda investigation is ongoing.

Some believe that fish poached on these lakes are ending up in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in Europe.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 17 April 1990. The reporter is Eileen Magnier.