#Angling - Continued vigilance on Ireland’s rivers and lakes is required, says Ireland’s inland fisheries body, as a new report indicates a substantial loss in the number of highest quality river sites.
According to the latest State of the Environment Report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only 21 sites were classified as the highest quality rivers (0.7% of sites) in most recent monitoring period (2013-2015). This compares with 575 sites between 1987-1990 and 82 sites between 2001-2003.
In addition, 18% of monitored rivers and 27% of monitored lakes were defined as ‘less than good status’ due to fish ecological status as monitored reported on by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).
Preliminary assessment suggests that barriers to fish migration and physical deterioration of habitats may be partly to blame.
Between 2010 and 2012, there were also 70 fish kills reported. However serious pollution of rivers has fallen to just over 6km compared to 17km in 2010-2012 and 53km in 2007-2009.
“We need to protect our fish populations and conserve our resource for the next generation,” said IFI chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne on the new report, adding that Ireland’s fisheries resource “is worth €836 million annually to the Irish economy and supports over 11,000 jobs often in rural and peripheral communities.
“We have over 273,000 domestic anglers currently in Ireland and in 2015, 163,000 international visitors fished here. Angling and the fisheries resource, if developed in a conservation focused manner, offers huge recreational and economic potential for Ireland now and into the future.
“We have some of the best wild fisheries in Europe and water quality in Ireland still compares favourably with our European neighbours. However, the dramatic reduction in the number of our pristine rivers is a wake-up call which we need to address.”