Oysterman caught harvesting illegal shellfish

Galway Daily news High levels of toxins prompt warning against picking shellfish in the west

A longtime Galway oysterman pleaded guilty to harvesting undersized oysters in Galway District Court on Tuesday.

Patrick Cormican was caught by Inland Fisheries Ireland loading a trailer with bags of native oysters outside Clarinbridge last December.

Out of the 5,000 oysters harvested nearly 1500 – enough to fill two large plastic fish crates – were under the harvestable size of 76mm.

It took the two fisheries men one and a half hours to count and measure the oyster catch.

The court heard that the fisheries men had never seen that many undersized oysters in one harvest.

Inland Fisheries Ireland had been keeping an eye on the particular spot because a 2017 survey revealed that only 5% of the oysters there were of harvestable size.

Judge Mary Fahy noted that there is a “very fine line” between a sustainable fishery and an unsustainable one.

Mr. Cormican is a fully licensed oyster operator with five decades of experience.

The judge said that the 74-year-old “should have known better” and that the fisheries officers “rated it very seriously” before fining him €750 plus €800 in costs with six months to pay.