Ulster Unionist MLA Robin Swann has challenged the Sinn Fein Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister “to tackle the abuse that is ongoing within our local rivers and waterways, especially on a stretch of the Braid River”.
Assemblyman Swann, who is UUP chief whip and chairman of the Stormont Employment and Learning Committee, threw down the gauntlet to the Sinn Fein minister after being alerted to the problem by local anglers.
Mr Swann said: “I made this call to the Sinn Fein minister after receiving representation from a number of anglers who have witnessed illegal activity in a local stretch of water intensify, and their concern that when they challenged the offender they were physically threatened.
“I have asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure to detail what operations by bailiffs have been carried out on the stretch of the Braid River from Curls Avenue to Railway Street and to Sainsbury’s supermarket in Ballymena, in the last 12 months.
“The minister has confirmed that in the last 12 months there have been 16 patrols by DCAL Fisheries Protection Officers on the stretch of the Braid River in question.
“I have asked her to provide me with the results of these patrols and also to increase the frequency.
“It is vital that this illegal activity is stamped out permanently and the interests of legitimate anglers protected,” said Assemblyman Swann.