A Sunderland man was placed under an electronically tagged curfew today (Friday) after the Environment Agency’s special enforcement fisheries team successfully prosecuted him for poaching salmon, only one month after being sentenced for a similar offence in the same court in July 2005.


Joseph Carolan, of Hastings Street, Hedon, Sunderland, was given an 18 month conditional discharge for placing a net in tidal waters, and an 18 month community order for two offences of unlicensed fishing, at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court.


The conditions of this included a supervision order of 18 months, and an electronically tagged curfew for six months from 8pm to 7am. Carolan was also ordered to attend Think First (to address his alcohol problems and ‘boredom’).


He was ordered to forfeit all fishing equipment used in the offence and pay costs of £500 to the Environment Agency, which brought the case.


Helen Ferguson, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court how on 3 August 2005, the crew of and Environment Agency fisheries boat saw a net set in the River Wear near Deptford.


The following day, after further investigation by special enforcement officers, three men were seen to arrive on the quayside in the area at 9.30pm. Two of these men were Joseph Carolan and Paul John Bond.


Using night vision technology, the fisheries enforcement officers watched Carolan take a paddle from a bag, and hand this bag to Bond. Carolan then made his way down the quayside ladder and into a small boat, which he paddled  a few metres towards a larger boat called the Sea Sider. On this boat Carolan handled a fishing net.


Bond later joined Carolan on the Sea Sider and Carolan used the smaller rowing boat to take a fishing net to the centre of the river where he set the net and tied it to a mooring buoy.


Carolan and Bond then made their way back to the quayside just after midnight on 5 August 2005, where they were arrested by the enforcement officers.


The net was retrieved from the river as soon as possible to minimise damage to fish stocks. There were two salmon, a sea trout and a flat fish caught in the net. Scale samples were taken before the fish were returned to the river.


In interview, Carolan refused to answer questions. Bond admitted assisting Carolan to set the net and that Carolan had asked him to help. He said they were looking to catch salmon.


The net was set when the tide was rising, and migratory fish like salmon and sea trout would be attempting to move upstream into non tidal freshwater as they returned to the spawning streams in the upper reaches of the river.


Whilst on bail for these offences, Carolan was again arrested on 21 September 2006 for a similar offence in the same location. Two fish were taken in this instance.


In mitigation, Carolan’s solicitor brought to the court’s attention his lack of means and asked magistrates to follow the recommendation in the probation report.


Speaking after the case, special enforcement fisheries officer Kevin Summerson said: “The tagged curfew imposed by the Magistrates highlights the potential environmental damage poaching can cause.


“It is not just the monetary value of the fish that is of concern, or the damage the net could do to salmon and trout.  Cases like this can also have a significant knock-on effect to the salmon’s natural breeding cycle. We will always aim to prosecute cases of poaching and shall maintain our efforts on all of the rivers in the North East Region.”