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Two young poets from Tipperary and Carlow respectively have scooped the top prizes in this year’s Something Fishing national poetry competition, organised by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) in conjunction with the Blackrock Education Centre.

Orlaith Timmons, a fifth-class pupil from Moycarkey National School in Thurles, and Aoibhé Kieran, a sixth-class pupil from Ballon National School in Carlow, each won the top prize in their categories for their nature-themed poetry.

Earlier this year, primary school students around the country were challenged by IFI to create an acrostic poem, where the first letter of each line spells out the word ‘STREAM’ (for an English-language poem) or ‘SRUTH’ (for an Irish-language poem).

Announcing the winners, Environment Eamon Ryan said: “These are gorgeous poems that really capture the joy these young people are experiencing spending time in nature. I’d like to congratulate all our budding young poets on their achievements this year.

“Through this environmental competition, primary school children have shown huge enthusiasm for nature, fish, other wildlife and the world around us. Improving our children’s knowledge and understanding of biodiversity, through initiatives like this one, will be an important part of our climate action efforts.”

The competition is part of the wider Something Fishy Educational Programme, aimed at primary school pupils aged between 10 and 13. It educates students on the importance of biodiversity and on having sustainable habitats, fish and angling.

Despite school closures during the 2020/2021 academic year, online content was still available to pupils and teachers through the official website at somethingfishy.ie including lesson plans and activity sheets based on the theme of the life cycle of salmon — bradán as Gaeilge.

From over 100 entries, the judging panel also selected runners-up from Ballon National School and Bennekerry National School (Carlow), Scoil Mhuire National School in Corofin (Galway), Scoil Cholmcille in Greencastle (Donegal) and St Canice’s Girls National School in Finglas (Dublin).

Praising the young winners and their schools, Suzanne Campion, IFI’s head of business development, said: “By researching and writing about fish, wildlife and rivers from an early age, primary school children are learning really important lessons about biodiversity and how we all have a role to play in protecting and conserving our environment.

“Congratulations to all our winners and our thanks to everyone who took part in this year’s competition. I’d also like to thank all the teachers, principals and school staff who supported the Something Fishy programme and competition over the last year.”

The overall winners will receive a fishing kit to the value of €100 and runners-up will receive an outdoor field trip kit to the value of €50. Third-placed winners and special category winners will receive goody bags.

“This year we received fantastic entries from budding poets and nature enthusiasts. With a total of 114 entries in the competition for its second year running, it is encouraging to see the interest amongst young people across Ireland,” said Dr Susan Gibney, director of the Blackrock Education Centre.

“Competitions like this not only help with student’s literacy skills but also expands their knowledge of the biodiversity that exists around them in our lakes and rivers.”

All winning poems from the 2021 Something Fishy national poetry competition can be read at somethingfishy.ie/schools

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has welcomed the allocation of €185,000 for a project around Lough Sheelin by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under the European Innovation Partnerships (EIP) Farm and Community Biodiversity Initiative.

The State agency responsible for the protection, management, development and improvement of Ireland’s inland fisheries applied for funding to enhance biodiversity on seven rivers in the Lough Sheelin catchment area in counties Cavan and Meath.

Working in partnership with farmers and landowners along the rivers, IFI will begin works later this year that will help protect river banks from erosion by livestock, reduce water pollution and enhance biodiversity by pruning vegetation and trees in selected areas to allow more natural light to enter the river channel.

Suzanne Campion, IFI’s head of business development, explains: “When cattle enter a river to drink, they can damage the banks of the river, causing materials, such as sediment to enter the river. This can reduce the overall water quality in the river which will negatively impact the fish and their habitats.

“Thanks to funding from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, we can provide alternative sources of drinking water for livestock through ‘cattle drinkers,’ and we can install fencing which is set back from the river’s edge. This will mean that erosion and water quality issues in the Lough Sheelin Catchment area can be prevented and biodiversity can be enhanced.”

IFI is planning to install over 50 cattle drinkers and 5km of livestock fencing along the seven rivers at Finaway, Maghera, Drumone, Halfcarton, Pound, Mountnugent and Kildorrough.

The agency anticipates that these works will lead to the growth of vegetation on river banks, which would become a natural habitat for wildlife and could act as a buffer to prevent polluted water from the land entering the rivers.

In the longer term, IFI plans to carry out significant river habitat enhancement works as part of a five-year development plan, working closely with the Lough Sheelin Trout Preservation Association (LSTPA).

The Farm and Community Biodiversity Initiative works will be completed within the next 12 months. Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett, recently announced that IFI was successful in its application for €184,698 as part of an open call.

The ‘Riparian zone enhancement – Lough Sheelin Catchment project’ is an EIP being administered by Inland Fisheries Ireland. The project is funded by the EU Recovery Instrument Funding under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2022.

Published in Angling

A new study published this month by the scientific journal Nature reveals the marine migration route of Atlantic salmon in the North Atlantic, including Irish salmon.

The study in Nature’s open-access Scientific Reports, led by the Arctic University of Norway, comprises cooperative research study by 10 universities and institutions across Europe, including Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

It involved tagging 204 salmon kelts with satellite tags across seven European countries and the east coast of North America — including salmon from the Barrow, Nore, Suir and Blackwater rivers in Ireland — and tracked them during their oceanic migration.

Salmon travelled to oceanic fronts, but with specific patterns, the study says. Norwegian and Danish salmon rapidly migrate north and north-west toward the North Atlantic Ocean between Iceland and Svalbard. In contrast, Irish salmon migrated primarily westward towards south and east Greenland.

Despite the variation in migration patterns among populations, most individual salmon migrated to polar ocean frontal areas, the study says.

One of the authors of the study, Dr Paddy Gargan of IFI, says: “As we know, water temperatures have increased in the north Atlantic over the last few decades. This new research is suggesting that this type of climate change may have greater impact on salmon populations originating further south, like Ireland.

Patrick Gargan is a senior research officer with Inland Fisheries IrelandPatrick Gargan is a senior research officer with Inland Fisheries Ireland

“This is because distances and time required to travel to feeding areas will increase if the boundary between Atlantic and Arctic waters move northward because of ocean warming.”

The study found that salmon released further south tended to cover longer migration distances, with a straight-line distance tracked as far as 2,400km for one salmon tagged from the River Suir.

Tagged salmon spent 80% of their time foraging at the surface and performed occasional dives of up to 870m.

Overall, populations closest in proximity tended to converge in their oceanic feeding area, but taken together the salmon populations exploit a very large part of the ocean.

Given that Atlantic salmon from different geographic locations feed in distinct areas at sea, they experience different temperature regimes. For example, Irish salmon experienced much warmer temperatures, ranging from 5 to 16°C, than Norwegian and Danish salmon which experienced temperatures ranging from 0 to 11°C.

These differences not only contribute to variation in growth and survival across populations, but also are likely to affect Atlantic salmon populations differently with changing climate.

Map from the study showing that tagged Irish salmon primarily migrated westward towards east GreenlandMap from the study showing that tagged Irish salmon primarily migrated westward towards east Greenland

Southernmost populations, like those of Ireland, are more at risk than northernmost populations as migration distances are likely to become longer, or more variable, thereby decreasing feeding time, with important consequences for the marine survival and productivity of different populations.

Taken together, these findings suggest that a common marine factor responsible for the decline in Atlantic salmon is unlikely. Importantly, this means conservation efforts should be focused locally, such as during the freshwater phase.

Dr Cathal Gallagher, head of research with IFI, explains why the State agency was keen to support the study: “Although the Atlantic salmon is one of the world’s most studied fish, detailed knowledge of its migration route at sea has been limited until now.

“This important large-scale study highlights the vulnerability of salmon populations to climate change and emphasises the need for continued conservation, to protect Atlantic salmon and its habitats.”

The full study — Redefining the oceanic distribution of Atlantic salmon — can be found at Nature.com

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is appealing to the farming community to continue to be vigilant and to play their part in protecting waterways from the threat of agricultural pollution.

The call comes following the conviction of Corrib Farming Ltd, which permitted agricultural effluent to enter the Suileen River, a tributary of the Clare River in Co Galway.

While the advent of round bales has reduced the potential for pollution, IFI is warning that the continued use of silage pits can put rivers at risk.

Silage effluent is a highly toxic substance when it gets into rivers, starving the fish and invertebrate life of oxygen. When rivers are low in summertime, even a small leak can cause huge damage.

Maintenance of silage pits and slurry storage facilities is essential to ensure that leaks or overflows are not permitted.

As highlighted in the Good Agricultural Practice Guidelines from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, farm effluent and slurry should only be spread responsibly when heavy rain is not forecast and never close to a watercourse.

Last Tuesday 8 June, at a hearing in Tuam District Court, Corrib Farming Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of the Fisheries Acts on 22 September 2020.

David Harrington, senior fisheries environmental officer with IFI, gave evidence to the court of tracing the source of a significant pollution event on the Suileen River back to a pipe emanating from the company’s farm in Tuam.

The initial report was made by a member of the public to IFI and upon investigation, heavy algal growth was found in the river. These were indicators of nutrient enrichment of the waterbody, covering approximately 4km downstream of the discharge point whereafter it enters the Clare River.

Water samples taken as part of the investigation confirmed that the farm discharge had caused water pollution of the Suileen River.

‘Silage effluent is a major pollutant if it enters a watercourse and can have severe and long-term consequences’

Although the court heard that the company had fully cooperated and undertaken to remedy the situation immediately, there was significant damage caused to the water quality of the Lough Corrib catchment.

Judge James Faughnan convicted Corrib Farming Ltd and directed that the company pay €1,000, not by way of a fine but towards restorative works on the Lough Corrib catchment, as well as laboratory expenses of €349.32 and legal costs of €800.

Patrick Gorman, Galway director in the Western River Basin District at IFI, said: “Having good water quality in our lakes and rivers is vital for healthy fish stocks and their habitats.

“We are appealing to farmers to take precautionary measures during the current silage season and when land-spreading to ensure watercourses are protected against harmful pollutants.

“Silage effluent is a major pollutant if it enters a watercourse and can have severe and long-term consequences. The increase in excessive nutrients drastically reduces the oxygen content in the water and can be the cause of major fish kills.

“To protect water quality within our fisheries, we are asking the farming community to continue to be vigilant and practise good farmyard management. Any member of the public can report suspected pollution directly to Inland Fisheries Ireland’s 24-hour confidential hotline on 1890 34 74 24.”

The Clare River is the largest tributary of Lough Corrib, a designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC) which sees thousands of salmon and trout run the river to spawn every year.

It provides a valuable angling facility for local and tourist anglers, with six different angling clubs located along the river.

Patrick Gorman added: “Members of these angling clubs have invested heavily in recent years to improve spawning and nursery habitat for salmon and trout. They rely heavily on the environmental stewardship of local farmers to maintain the Clare River and ultimately Lough Corrib as top angling waterbodies for local and international anglers.”

Published in Angling

Angling clubs, groups and associations all over Ireland are from tomorrow (Friday 11 June) invited to apply for funding under Inland Fisheries Ireland’s 2021 Sponsorship Programme.

One of the main funding mechanisms of Inland Fisheries Ireland, the programme awarded funding to 87 angling events and initiatives across the country during 2019, resulting in an investment of €30,000 to support novice anglers and angling tourism in Ireland.

Due to public health guidelines around the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sponsorship Programme didn’t go ahead in 2020, but in 2019 it supported 45 angling competitions to showcase Ireland’s angling resource and contribution to local economies.

Over 800 anglers travelled from outside Ireland to participate in these competitions, such as the Lough Ree International Pike Classic and International Coarse Fishing Festivals (Longford/Roscommon), the Arvagh International Coarse Fishing Festival (Cavan) and the Irish Winter Shore Angling Festival (Wexford).

A total of 37 coaching and juvenile events, aimed at novice and young anglers with a view to increasing participation in the sport, along with five public awareness events and angling-related initiatives were supported in 2019.

In total, over 600 juvenile and novice anglers participated in these initiatives, which included a juvenile angling competition held by Killaloe Ballina and District Anglers (Offaly/Tipperary), Easter and summer Angling Camps for children organised by the Trout Angling Federation of Ireland (Cork) and a Youth Initiative Day - Ulster organised by the Irish Federation of Sea Angling (Donegal).

Eligible events and categories in the 2021 Inland Fisheries Ireland Sponsorship Programme are as follows:

  • Large international competitions held in Ireland which showcase Ireland’s angling resources and contribution to local economies, supporting jobs and businesses (maximum sponsorship available is €3,000 per event).
  • Novice angler events and training courses which increase participation in angling including funding of transport hire for participants to facilitate attendance at novice angler events. Minimum of 20 novice angler participants required (maximum sponsorship available is €500 per event or course).
  • Information dissemination or initiatives to promote fisheries awareness, conservation and protection of the inland fisheries and sea angling resource; promotion of angling as a key Irish tourism activity e.g. Production of high quality angling promotional videos, seminars, coaching, training or workshops (maximum sponsorship available is €1,000 per event).
  • Juvenile and minority angling teams representing Ireland at international events both home and abroad (maximum sponsorship available is €500 per team).

Initiatives which support novice anglers and sustainable angling tourism are “key priorities” for funding in 2021, according to Suzanne Campion, IFI’s head of business development.

“We are delighted to make financial support available in 2021 to support key priority projects and events that will support novice and junior anglers and help grow sustainable angling tourism here in Ireland.

“The past year has shown us all how important engaging in outdoor activities has been for people’s physical and mental wellbeing and the Sponsorship Programme has a focus on encouraging new and novice anglers to enjoy the outdoors more by participating in angling in a sustainable manner.

“In addition to supporting those who are holding a rod for the first time, we also have a unique opportunity to inform novice anglers about conservation and protection of our precious wild fisheries.

“As the deadline to apply under the Sponsorship Programme is Friday 25 June, we are encouraging all angling clubs, groups and associations to get in touch with us in Inland Fisheries Ireland and apply for funding through the programme.”

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is relying on the knowledge and experience as a ‘citizen scientist’ anglers in a new survey about less well-known fish species.

Some migratory fish species like salmon and lesser-known species such as shad and the extremely rare sturgeon, among others, are in decline in many European countries. These species spend much of their lifecycle at sea and periods in riverine habitats.

As part of the multinational European project DiadES, IFI and other project partners are assessing the recreational fishing interest in several of these species including shad, thin-lipped mullet, smelt and flounder via an online survey which will also record the economic benefits that the species support.

Dr William Roche, senior research officer at IFI, said: “We are urging anglers who fish for these species to participate in this online survey as it will help us get a more comprehensive view of these less common species in Irish waters.

“In this way we can contribute to providing better information to inform future policy and management of these species, and the economic, social and cultural activities associated with them.”

Future predictions suggest that some of these species will see northward and southward changes in distribution under climate change scenarios, IFI says.

This may increase or decrease their availability to recreational fishing and the economic benefits they bring to businesses in local areas, as well as the enjoyment and associated health and social benefits for fishers.

The online survey consists of questions about fish-catching activities and will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

In Ireland the DiadES case study area comprises the Suir, Nore and Barrow Rivers and the Waterford Harbour catchment but IFI is also seeking details on the named fish species generally within Ireland.

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland’s Dublin Angling Initiative is calling on youth clubs, community groups and schools in the Greater Dublin Area to take part in its 2021 fishing programme.

The initiative aims to promote, develop and improve angling among children and young people. In 2021, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is looking for interested parties for the summer, autumn and winter months to take part in the programme.

In 2019, over 400 children and young people took part in the fishing programme which caters for anyone interested in angling, from the complete novice to the more advanced angler with exposure given to each of the different types of fishing.

Children and young people are offered an opportunity to take fishing lessons, participate in fishing trips and enjoy family fishing days.

In addition to practical fishing exercises, the initiative offers fishing presentations and tours providing an insight into fish, their habitat, conservation measures and education regarding local fishing areas.

‘Fishing is a pastime which can be enjoyed at any age or ability’

The Dublin Angling Initiative has seen thousands of young people participate over the past 20 years, resulting in the establishment of many new fishing clubs.

Brian Beckett, director of the Eastern River Basin District, said: “We are calling on youth clubs, community groups as well as national and secondary schools who would like to try out a new hobby.

“Fishing is a pastime which can be enjoyed at any age or ability. The Dublin Angling initiative introduces young people to the pursuit, giving access to fishing equipment, guidance around how and where to fish and builds awareness about the importance of protecting and conserving our fisheries resource and the broader aquatic environment.

“Along with learning a new skill there are the additional health and wellbeing benefits of taking part in an outdoor activity and disconnecting from the online world. We are opening our call for youth clubs to book in for this year to get an opportunity to take part in this unique initiative.”

The 2021 Dublin Angling Initiative will include coarse, sea and game angling along with educational trips, where COVID-19 public health guidelines allow. Interested groups should contact by email [email protected] or apply online.

Dublin Angling Initiative 2021 launch poster

Published in Angling

Reports have emerged of wild salmon showing signs of red skin disease in three provinces, according to Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

Low incidences of red skin disease (RSD) were first documented in 2019 in several European salmon stocks. In Ireland last year suspected incidences of RSD were reported in 113 salmon from 12 rivers throughout the country.

The majority of these reports were in June and July with only occasional incidences reported prior to and after this time.

Salmon affected by RSD have a characteristic red-spotted rash on their underbelly and may appear lethargic or moribund. The rash can either be localised or extend along some or most the length of the fish.

As the disease progresses, skin lesions, signs of bleeding and skins ulcers can develop primarily along the belly area and extend to the head and tail. Secondary fungal infection can further develop which may ultimately result in death of the salmon.

A salmon from the River Corrib showing early signs of the disease in 2019 | Credit: IFIA salmon from the River Corrib showing early signs of the disease in 2019 | Credit: IFI

The latest reports involve small numbers of individual fresh-run wild salmon encountered in the River Deel, in the Moy Catchment in Co Mayo and in the River Boyne.

IFI staff are continuing to liaise with the Fish Health Unit in the Marine Institute and international colleagues to monitor and respond to the situation.

Anglers and fishery owners are asked to report any incidences of salmon with signs of RSD to IFI to help determine the occurrence of the disease nationally.

Fishers who capture such salmon are advised to follow normal biosecurity procedures and disinfect tackle, waders and equipment. Until the cause of the disease has been determined and the risk of spreading the disease established, affected salmon should not be removed from the water.

IFI is appealing to anglers to forward any reports of salmon with signs of RSD along with photographs and an estimate of fish weight to [email protected] or on IFI’s 24-hour confidential hotline number at 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24.

Published in Angling

One overall winner and five runners-up have been selected in the ‘My Favourite Fishing Place’ national photo competition that was run as part of Inland Fisheries Ireland’s Go Fishing Week 2021.

Entries were received from anglers across Ireland and the UK under the title ‘My Favourite Fishing Place’, with their photos showing where people love to fish and some of the most beautiful scenic fishing locations Ireland has to offer.

The overall winner is Michael Brazendale from England whose favourite fishing spot is Derrynane Beach, Co Kerry, represented in a breathtaking panorama. He receives €100 worth of angling tackle.

Panorama of Derrynane Beach by overall winner Michael BrazendalePanorama of Derrynane Beach by overall winner Michael Brazendale

Runners-up prizes are awarded to Christin Breuker, Danijel Kucan, Enda Fields, Lukasz Ryz and Maurice Neill. The entries will be shared across IFI’s social media platforms over the coming weeks.

Go Fishing Week 2021 took place from Sunday 25 April to Monday 3 May with a packed nine days of webinars, videos, social media content and competitions.

Published in Angling

A Cork man has been jailed for four months on three charges including assault on a fisheries officer.

Jason Callaghan, with an address on Lower Barrack Street, was convicted by Judge Brian O’Shea at a special sitting of Midleton District Court on Tuesday 27 April.

The court was told how officers from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) had observed Callaghan illegally fishing with two other men in the Owenacurra River at the Cork Road Bridge in Midleton on the afternoon of Sunday 21 July 2019.

At the time, the river was closed to angling for the protection and conservation of salmon and sea trout stocks.

The court heard Callaghan fled the scene when approached by fisheries officers. He was then pursued from the river to the town centre where he assaulted a fisheries officer with the metal end of a fishing rod, injuring the officer and causing him to fall to the ground.

The assault was witnessed by a plain-clothes garda attending the incident. The garda also gave evidence during the hearing which lasted for several hours.

Judge O’Shea fined Callaghan €500, handing him an additional two-month custodial sentence for use of a strokehaul. Callaghan was further convicted of impeding an authorised officer and was given a four-month custodial sentence for assaulting an authorised officer, to run concurrent with the two-month sentence.

Callaghan, who had previous fisheries convictions, fully contested the charges and gave evidence to the court.

Kieran Ryan of Bishopstown and Calvin Morrissey of Carrignavar, who had been illegally fishing with Callaghan, were also convicted. Ryan received a two-month custodial sentence for use of a strokehaul and one month for impeding an authorised officer. Morrissey was convicted of use of a strokehaul and impeding an authorised officer and fined €500 on both counts.

All the charges were brought under the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959.

Judge O’Shea rejected submissions from legal representatives for the three accused and stated that Callaghan had told lies in the witness box which he “expressly rejected”. He noted that there was “no hint of an apology and no remorse shown” by Callaghan or his co-defendants.

Sean Long, director of the South Western River Basin District, said: “The safety of our fisheries officers is of utmost importance to IFI. This was a reckless assault on an officer in broad daylight on a busy street which could have had significant consequences for a man simply trying to carry out his job.

“Thankfully, our staff member was back at work after a couple of days and able to continue protecting our fisheries resource.

“I hope these custodial sentences will give would-be offenders pause for thought. An assault on a fisheries officer is a severe matter and we will continue to prosecute offenders without exception.”

Published in Angling
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