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Displaying items by tag: Eels

Former commercial eel fisherman in Galway will receive compensation up to a maximum of €3 million from this month, as Galway Bay FM reports.

Applications were opened till the end of November for the Support Scheme for Former Feel Fisherpersons which will offer restitution payments to those who were actively engaged in the commercial eel fishery before it was closed in 2009.

More recently, Ireland’s eel fishermen have been involved in a scientific fishery gathering data from key catchments to map out the health of the species around the country.

Published in Fishing
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#Angling - The Outdoor Ranger Tuam Angling Education Programme provides information sessions, skills workshops and fishing excursions to young people who may be interested in trying out the pursuit.

Sean Canney TD, Minister of State with responsibility for inland fisheries, expressed his full support for the Tuam-based programme this week and welcomed the funding from Inland Fisheries Ireland’s National Strategy for Angling Development Fund to support its rollout.

“This programme will encourage and engage young people in angling and allow experienced volunteer anglers from local clubs to pass on their knowledge and skills to the next generation,” Minister Canney said.

“Collaboration such as this is vital to ensure that these skills, developed over many years, are not lost. I am particularly pleased that the Outdoor Ranger Tuam Angling Education Programme is supported locally by Cairde an Chláir working with Inland Fisheries Ireland.”

The programme commenced in October with a strong uptake, and participants enjoyed guest appearances from well-known anglers during the programme.

Nathan Creaven from Kilconly, Tuam who fly-fished for Ireland earlier this year, demonstrated his fly-tying skill, while Owen Trill, and international fly-tier from Galway, gave his own demonstration at one of the skills workshops.

The information sessions and workshops aimed to provide students with the basic skills necessary for recreational angling. Young people took several lessons on several topics including sustaining quality habitats, line rigging, baiting, knot-tying, casting techniques, fish retrieval, fish handling, catch and release, rules and regulations of angling and biosecurity.

In addition, they enjoyed a fishing trip to Oughterard Fishing School where they had the opportunity to put their new found angling skills to practise.

The programme received funding from IFI’s National Strategy for Angling Development Fund. The strategy aims to ensure that Ireland’s angling resource is protected and conserved in an environmentally sustainable manner for future generations to enjoy while also striving to make angling an accessible and attractive pursuit for all.

Suzanne Campion, Head of Business Development at Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “We are delighted to support the Outdoor Ranger Tuam Angling Education Project through our National Strategy for Angling Development.

“It is through partnerships such as this one [in Tuam], where local fishing clubs and associations are working together in a constructive and positive manner, that we will secure the future of our fisheries resource,” said Suzanne Campion, IFI’s head of business development.

Teresa Kelly from the Outdoor Ranger shop in Tuam added: “Learning to become an angler is something we took for granted when we were young. We took our bike out and headed off to the river for the day. But this is a thing of the past and the amount of young people that don’t know anything about angling, or that it’s even a sport, is shocking — especially as we have the finest rivers and lakes at our doorstep.

“This is the issue that the Outdoor Ranger Tuam Angling Education programme wants to highlight and also to make changes by providing information and day trips out fishing with young people to give them to the opportunity to learn and gain a love of angling.”

In other news, applications are open till 5pm this evening (Friday 30 November) for the Support Scheme for Former Eel Fisherpersons.

The fund offers a restitution payment specifically targeted at former licensed eel fisherpersons who were actively engaged with the commercial eel fishery prior to the National Eel Management Plans and the 2008 public consultation which subsequently lead to the closure of the commercial eel fishery.

Details on the scheme are available on the IFI website. Late applications will not be accepted.

Published in Angling

#Fishing - Local eel fishermen were celebrated recently at an information day hosted by Inland Fisheries Ireland in Athlone.

The fishermen, who are involved in IFI’s Scientific Eel Fisheries in different parts of the country, attended the event which aimed to provide an update on the progress made through these fisheries and to recognise the contribution of the fishermen to date.

In total, there are 11 fishermen involved in the initiative, with many experienced in fishing for eels over several years.

Since last year, they have provided support to IFI by fishing for eel in a conservation-focused manner with a view to gathering necessary data which will help protect the species into the future.

Their local expertise and historical knowledge around eels in their areaa has given invaluable support to IFI during the set up and delivery of the Scientific Eel Fishery.

IFI commenced the process of setting up a network of scientific fisheries for eel around Ireland in 2016. These scientific fisheries cover the different life stages — glass eel, elver, yellow and silver eel — and are distributed in key catchments around Ireland.

The purpose of the fisheries is to increase the knowledge around eels in Ireland ahead of the next EU review of this endangered species, and to inform the management of eel populations which are currently in decline.

Dr Cathal Gallagher, head of R&D at IFI, said: “This important partnership between eel fishermen and research has one shared objective: to improve our knowledge of the state of the eel populations and to ensure their conservation for future generations.

“Inland Fisheries Ireland appreciates the benefit of citizen science programmes such as this one which will preserve the heritage of eel fishing and at the same time deliver on the research requirements needed to report to the EU. I would like to recognise and thank all the fishermen involved for their support.”

Citizen science is growing in popularity and encompasses many different ways in which citizens who are non-scientists are involved in scientific research projects.

The involvement of fishermen in the Scientific Eel Fisheries plays an important role in respecting the tradition and heritage of eel fishing in Ireland. Many of the fishermen come from families where eel fishing has been practised across several generations with local expertise and knowledge passed down through the years.

Published in Fishing

Irish researchers from Inland Fisheries Ireland have contributed to an EU funded research which has helped solve the deepest secrets of oceanic migration and behaviour of one of Europe’s most mysterious fish, the European eel. The international research team, led by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) in the UK, tracked more than 700 eels as they made their annual mass migration from Europe to the Sargasso Sea. Over 200 tags were recovered, allowing the scientists to map more than 5,000 kilometres of the migration route.

Ireland was one of four countries alongside Sweden, France and Germany which released eels between 2006 and 2012 for tracking purposes. The study allowed scientists to map migration routes from Europe to the Azores region, approximately half the distance to the area where they spawn in the Sargasso Sea. Forty four eels were successfully tracked from Ireland with pop up satellite tags. This study monitored eels further and longer than any previous research with one of the tags from an Irish eel registering a journey of 6,982 kilometres and 273 days at sea.

The study has overturned previously accepted theories on the European eel which believed that eels made one large journey to the Sargasso Sea, located in the Western Atlantic near the Bahamas, to breed once before they die. This new research shows that their arrival to the Sargasso Sea is more staggered; a finding which will have impact on how this critically endangered species will be managed and conserved in the future.

While some eels do take the quickest route available, travelling from Europe and spawning in early spring within six months of departure, the evidence suggests that the majority of eels undertake a slower paced migration which enables them to arrive in the Sargasso Sea a year later than previously thought. This means that the eels are at sea for longer and exposed to a higher risk of predation and other mortality events.

Dr. Cathal Gallagher, Head of Research and Development at Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “During this programme, Irish eels were released from the Shannon, Corrib, Erne and Burrishoole catchments to make the journey from our freshwaters out into the open ocean to join their European counterparts and cross the Atlantic. While there is still so much we don’t know about this mysterious fish, this research has revealed more than ever before.

The life cycle and migration of the eel continues to puzzle scientists as they are born into and spawn in the remote ocean, making them difficult to study. While previously it was understood that eels travelled to the Sargasso Sea to spawn, we did not understand the duration and the dangers our eels are exposed to during this migration. We now know more also about their behaviour patterns as all eels exhibited diel vertical migrations, swimming though deeper water during the day and moving closer to the surface at night. This understanding of eel biology will help manage and conserve their population across Europe and beyond more effectively.”

The study relied on two different types of tags, ‘pop up’ satellite tags and internal and external data storage tags, to track the eels. Satellite pop up tags are attached to the eel and pop off on a predefined date, automatically transmitting migration data to researchers via a satellite link. The data storage tags, which are bright orange in colour, need to be physically recovered when they float back to land on the tides. Researchers rely on citizens recovering and returning the tag to help them complete their research. To date, 82 data storage tags have been collected and returned by citizens in several countries, including in Ireland.

Dr. Patrick Gargan of Inland Fisheries Ireland was one of the authors on the research article ‘Empirical observations of the spawning migration of European eels: The long and dangerous road to the Sargasso Sea,’ published in science publication Science Advances. 

  • Interesting facts about the European Eel:

  • The growth stage, known as the yellow eel, takes place in marine, transitional or freshwater and can last from 2 – 25 years depending on the location.
  • In Ireland, male silver eels range in age from 5-15 years old with female silver eels ranging from 10-20 years of age. However, eels of greater than 30 years old have been recorded.
  • Eels from the southern region of Europe tend to migrate earlier than eels from the northern region with faster growth recorded in warmer waters.
  • The male eel tends to migrate at a length between 30 and 40 cm, with females migrating at greater than 40cm in length and reaching one metre in length.
  • The male and female eel undertake different life strategies with the male reaching the minimum condition required to undertake the migration and spawn; and as a result migrate at a younger age and smaller size compared with females who try to maximise condition.
  • During their migration, eels move to deep water (up to 800m) during the day and into shallower water (-350m) at night. This may be to regulate water temperature, avoid predators or for navigational reasons.
  • The longest migration recorded in this study was more than 300 days. Each day the eel made a vertical migration of more than 300 metres and back.
Published in Marine Science
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#Eels - Inland Fisheries Ireland is in the process of setting up a network of scientific fisheries for eel around Ireland.

These scientific fisheries will cover the different life stages (elver, yellow and silver eel) and be distributed in key catchments around Ireland.

The purpose of the fisheries is to increase the data and knowledge of eel in Ireland ahead of the next EU review in 2018 which will help inform management on the state of the eel stocks as part of the Eel Monitoring Programme.

Details of the type of fisheries and the locations is outlined in the application document HERE.

IFI requests that former eel fishermen apply, and include an application specifying which of the locations and life stages they are interested in applying for.

The engagement of services will be a rolling contract – reviewed on an annual basis likely to extend for a period of three years, subject to an annual review and funding.

The research fishery will be authorised with the successful application of a certificate of authorisation under Section 14 of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act, 1959 as substituted by Section 4 of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1962. IFI will engage with the applicants in relation to the successful operation of the research fisheries.

Any questions in relation to the scientific eel fisheries can be sent by email to [email protected] or in writing to:

Scientific Eel Fishery
Inland Fisheries Ireland,
3044 Lake Drive,
Citywest Business Campus,
Dublin 24
D24 Y265

The closing date for applications is Friday 15 April 2016.

Published in Fishing
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#Fishing - Minister for Natural Resources Joe McHugh has announced a new collaborative research initiative involving Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) marine scientists and a number of former eel fishermen to further develop national knowledge of the species and its medium- to longer-term potential for recovery.

Based on management advice from IFI, the existing conservations measures in Ireland’s Eel Management Plan (EMP), agreed by the EU under EC Regulation 1100/2007, will remain in place up to mid-2018.

“IFI has submitted advice and recommendations on Ireland’s EMP in the period 2015-18. These recommendations are cognisant of the independent scientific recommendations from the Standing Scientific Committee on Eels (SSCE) which underline the risk in opening fisheries at this time," said Minister McHugh.

“I am anxious that a scientific fishery involving some of the stakeholders is undertaken for the next three years to increase data and knowledge ahead of further review and I have secured funding to start the research in 2016. This would facilitate a better informed decision on the outlook for the stock over the next few years and beyond and also the prospects for a return to commercial fishing activity.”

The minister also pointed out that IFI would examine the data derived from the new initiative annually and review recommendations on management measures if the research supported this.

While some river basin districts appeared to attain the escapement targets set in the EU regulation, the minister said regulation clearly required attainment of targets over the long term.

“Progress has been made since 2009 when the protection actions were introduced with some rivers basins showing encouraging signs, but we cannot undermine that progress by undoing key conservation measures because we have some green shoots.”

Minister McHugh also emphasised that he fully appreciates the demographics of the former fishermen and the difficulties experienced by them since 2009.

“I want to use the new scientific research to better explore the potential for short to medium term recovery of the fishery and prospects for fishing in the future," he said. "We have put in place measures to protect eel stocks but based on the research outcome I will be better placed to consider the longer term socio-economic impacts on fishermen and communities and what measures it may be possible to put in place for fishermen.”

The measures currently in place under Ireland’s EMP principally involve a cessation of the commercial eel fishery and closure of the market, and mitigation of the impact of hydropower installations.

As previously reported on, illegal trade in eels is a growing business, with hundreds of millions of young eels taken from France's Atlantic coast to China each year.

Published in Fishing
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Hundreds of millions of young eels carried about 3,500 miles every year on Atlantic currents to Europe then flown 5,400 miles further on to China, are at the heart of an illegal and growing French export trade, an eminent British eel expert said today.

They are just now starting to reach the French coast on the Bay of Biscay at the end of a two-year journey floating over from their breeding grounds in the Sargasso Sea south of Bermuda.

Andrew Kerr, chairman of the European Sustainable Eel Group said trawlers are waiting to scoop up the three-inch-long eels, known as elvers, as they seek to swim into the Adour, Gironde, Loire and other rivers to spend the next ten years there growing into adult eels.

Mr. Kerr said the illegal trade was thriving because the annual French quota for the tiny eels was set twice as high as the 30 tons the EU market needed. The 2015/2016 quota was 57 tons.

“This needless oversupply of elvers enables the illegal trade,” Mr. Kerr told experts in eel conservation from 12 European countries at an Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM) symposium in Peterborough. “In China and Asia eels are a delicacy on a par with shark fins and enormous sums are paid for the pleasure of eating them,” he said.

The trawling would go on from November until French regulators assessed this year’s quota had been caught. This could take until April 2016 but probably sooner.

Of the 30 tons of elvers used in the EU roughly half went to restocking waterways and half to human consumption.

International eel trading from EU countries is prohibited under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It lists eels as endangered and has been signed by most European countries, including France.

Mr. Kerr said that eels remained one level nearer extinction than tigers, pandas and snow leopards. The aim of the Sustainable Eel Group was to accelerate the recovery of the species.

“The fish illegally traded with China go to fish farms to grow for human consumption but never breed. If they remained in Europe we would have another 100 million eels each year for release into our waterways which would help boost the recovery programme.”

Since the 1990s the numbers of elvers surviving in Europe had fallen by 90 per cent mainly due to human activities on waterways blocking migration pathways by the building of hydropower and water pumping stations.

French police were making great efforts, Mr. Kerr added, and finding it “very difficult” to identify and prosecute organisations and individuals engaged in the trade with China.

In ten years’ time this year’s elvers by then adult silver eels, will begin the long swim back from Europe to their Atlantic breeding grounds to begin again to produce massive shoals of elvers to float off to Europe and to the trawlers waiting for them.

Published in Fishing
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#InlandWaters - Minister for Natural Resources Joe McHugh and the NI Minister for Arts Culture and Leisure Caral Ni Chuilin have welcome the agreement completed by ESB with both departments to mitigate the loss of a quantity of elvers at ESB’s Cathaleen’s Fall hydroelectric plant on the River Erne.

“I want to commend ESB for the responsibility and diligence they have shown in agreeing a comprehensive package to mitigate the loss of elvers," said Minister McHugh.

“The package includes the purchase and release of eels into the sea and the extension of its highly successful 'trap and transport' programme on the Erne to carry eels around the Hydro Electric Plant.”

Both ministers were also briefed on the inter-agency protocol jointly developed by ESB, Northern Ireland's Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) and Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) around the entire operation of the trapping and release of eels at the plant.

“Key to any response to this incident is the requirement to minimise the risk of repeating it and that measures in place, North and South, to protect the vulnerable eel species are not undermined," said Minister Ni Chuilin.

“Officials in my department and IFI have agreed a new protocol to clarify roles and responsibilities regarding the operation of hydroelectric plant installations, and fisheries staff from both government organisations will assist in overseeing the monitoring of elver traps and the subsequent overland transport of them by ESB on the Erne catchment.”

Both ministers also were also happy that ESB had, since the incident, made considerable investment in a full upgrade of elver trapping facilities to the latest available technology at Cathaleen’s Fall.

This upgrade ensures enhanced aeration and storage facilities for collected elvers before release.

“ESB acted on the technology upgrade very quickly," said Minister McHugh. "I want to emphasise that a key element of the mitigation agreement also includes a commitment by ESB to keep operational matters under review in the light of future developments in technology.”

Minister Ni Chuilin stressed that in contemplation of potential mitigation options, both departments had sought the views of the Standing Scientific Committee on Eels (SSCE), which is composed of scientists from a range of organisations North and South acting in an independent advisory capacity.

“Independent scientific views on the effectiveness and adequacy of proposed mitigation measures to address the initial loss [are] essential for stakeholder confidence, and I trust that the new protocols which have been put in place will avoid any repeat of the incident which happened at Easter 2014,” she said.

Published in Inland Waterways
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#Eels - Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) invite submissions from interested parties on the following reports:

  • Report on the Implementation of Eel Management Plans for Ireland, including the transboundary NWIRBD 2015
  • Report from the independent Standing Scientific Committee on Eel 2015
  • Report on IFI’s National Eel Monitoring Programme 2012-2014

These reports should be read in conjunction with the original report:

  • National Report for Ireland on Eel Stock Recovery Plan - Including River Basin District Eel Management Plans

All the above documents are available for download from the Inland Fisheries Ireland website HERE or on CD-ROM from the address below.

These reports include the latest research and management information on eels in Ireland compiled over the last three years and updates the status of the stocks.

The management policy for eels in Ireland over the next three years will be determined from these reports and any relevant submissions received from interested parties.

Any party wishing to make a comment should send their submission on or before Wednesday 17 June 2015 to [email protected] or by post to:

Eel Submission, Inland Fisheries Ireland, 3044 Lake Drive, Citywest Business Campus, Dublin 24

Published in Angling
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#LoughNeagh - Families who have worked for generations in eel farming on Lough Neagh - putting the region on the map for its world-renowned eels – fear they are being pushed out of the industry by "unfair" policies, say campaigners.

And as Belfast Live reports, the authorities in charge of eel permits have also been accused of refusing to renew existing licences.

The Lough Neagh United Fishermen, or LNUF, says many long-time eel fishing families "grew up with the assurance that [they] would be 'looked after'".

Spokesperson Brian Wylie says his group's members also hold shares in the Lough Neagh Fishermen's Co-operative Society Ltd, which is authorised to issue permits for eel fishing.

"Our members are being ignored [by the co-operative] on a yearly basis, and can clearly see permits being handed out to people and their families never were involved in the ethos or concept," he adds.

Belfast Live has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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