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Displaying items by tag: Inland Fisheries Ireland

With Met Éireann forecasting a heat wave for large parts of the country into this weekend, combined with lower-than-average rainfall, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is warning that there is a high risk of fish kills due to thermal stress and reduced oxygen levels in lakes and rivers.

Also known as deoxygenation, reduced oxygen levels in a river or lake make it very difficult for fish to breathe and survive.

The State agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats is concerned that water levels in many rivers are low and approaching drought conditions.

Therefore, it is appealing to anglers, the farming community and the general public to report any sightings of fish under thermal stress, which may be caused by the extreme heat combined with low water levels and other pressures.

Anglers are also being asked to voluntarily stop using ‘keep nets’ while high temperature warnings from Met Éireann are in place, as these nets may cause unintentional distress to fish.

In addition, anglers that practice ‘catch and release’ fishing are asked not to fish during the heat wave where possible, as this may put undue pressure on fish populations.

Dr Gregory Forde, head of operations at IFI explains: “Unfortunately low water levels and high water temperatures can lead to fish kills, especially as there is less oxygen in the water to allow fish to breathe.

‘During the current heat wave, air and water temperatures are approaching dangerous levels and fish kills may be unavoidable’

“Once the water temperature exceeds 20C, fish species such as salmon and trout suffer ‘thermal stress’. During the current heat wave, air and water temperatures are approaching dangerous levels and fish kills may be unavoidable. In some instances, moving fish in and out of the water may also prove too stressful. 

“That’s why we’re asking anglers practicing catch and release fishing to consider taking a break from fishing while high temperature warnings are in place. We’re also asking anglers to voluntarily stop using ‘keep nets’ until conditions become more favourable.”

Last month, IFI and the Office of Public Works’ data buoy recorded a surface water temperature of 21.84C at Lough Sheelin in Co Cavan, coinciding with July’s hottest air temperature of 30.75C. 

IFI notes that significant thermal stress can occur in brown trout and other cold water fish species at temperatures at or above 20C.

Forde said: “Inland Fisheries Ireland staff are continuously monitoring water bodies, such as rivers and lakes, for any signs of fish suffering thermal stress in shallow water or drying out rivers and streams.

“We’re encouraging the public to report any sightings of fish suffering thermal stress to our 24-hour confidential hotline on 0818 34 74 24 so we can respond as quickly as possible to help rescue or relocate these fish.

“It is also a good time to remind all those using pesticides that these should be used only as a last resort, always in accordance with product instructions and always respecting statutory ‘no use’ zones, being mindful at all times of proximity to water bodies such as ditches, streams, ponds, rivers, lakes and springs. Even a very small amount of pesticide can be highly toxic to the aquatic environment.”

‘Many of our fish species will find survival difficult in these warm conditions without the added pressure of angling stress’

Elsewhere, the Loughs Agency is advising anglers across both the Foyle and Carlingford catchments to help preserve salmon and trout stocks in local rivers following prolonged periods of hot weather.

These extreme weather conditions have led to low river flows, high water temperatures and low oxygen levels in many bodies of water.

The guidance comes after only 43% of the average rainfall fell in Northern Ireland last month, although some rivers in the Foyle catchment also experienced severe flooding. Each one of these significant weather events put stress on fish.

The agency’s head of science Dr Sarah McLean is hopeful that anglers will proceed with caution on the rivers, particularly when fishing in the current warm temperatures.

“Many of our fish species will find survival difficult in these warm conditions without the added pressure of angling stress,” she said.

“Even catch and release poses a risk in these conditions as low dissolved oxygen in the water can result in poor fish recovery rates and inadvertent mortalities.

“It is also worth remembering that high water temperatures and low dissolved oxygen levels may also leave fish more susceptible to parasites and disease, so any fish caught will also require additional care when handling.”

There are several measures anglers in Foyle and Carlingford can take to help protect fish during the hot weather:

  • Consider taking the water temperature before you fish and avoid fishing at times when water temperatures are high. Water temperature will be coolest in the early morning.
  • Where possible, keep fish in the water during catch and release.
  • Seek advice from fishery or angling clubs where appropriate.
  • Avoid targeting larger fish or sensitive species.
  • Keep nets should not be used by coarse anglers during warm weather.
  • Limit handling time.
  • Where possible and safe, release fish into deeper, faster flowing water. 

Anglers should report distressed or dead fish in the Foyle or Carlingford catchments directly and promptly to the Loughs Agency at +44 (0)28 71 342100 or [email protected]

Published in Angling

A public consultation on the long-term management of the Great Western Lakes is now under way.

And Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is urging all interested parties, especially the angling community and anyone who uses the lakes or lives near them, to make a submission.

IFI has developed a draft plan for the long-term management of the seven lakes that comprise the Great Western Lakes: Lough Corrib, Lough Mask and Lough Carra in Co Galway, Lough Conn and Lough Cullin in Co Mayo, Lough Arrow in counties Sligo and Roscommon, and Lough Sheelin in Cavan, Meath and Westmeath,

This draft plan aims to address some of the many factors that impact on the ecological wellbeing and status of native fish stocks.

The lakes have long been designated, as a matter of policy, to be managed primarily as wild brown trout waters. Therefore, the proposed management programmes for these lakes will protect, conserve and, where possible, enhance the lakes’ natural attributes and native biodiversity.

In turn, IFI says, this would optimise the lakes’ potential as sustainable wild brown trout fisheries and, in some cases, Atlantic salmon fisheries. Other species such as eels, Artic char and Ferox trout are also reflected in the draft plan.

“It’s clear to see that all seven lakes share a series of pressures which are impacting on their ecosystem stability and native fish stocks. These include declining water quality, fisheries habitat loss, invasive species and the detrimental effects of climate change,” says IFI’s Suzanne Campion.

“These issues will be tackled through the various measures proposed in this draft plan. That is why the public consultation process is such an incredibly important step, as it gives the public the perfect opportunity to have their say.”

The draft plan is available from the IFI website or by visiting IFI’s offices in Galway, Ballina or Limerick.

The deadline for making a submission is 5pm on Tuesday 20 September. Anyone making a submission is encouraged to use the online questionnaire which will guide them through the headings of the plan.

In addition, a series of open evenings will take place during the consultation period where members of the public can discuss, seek clarification and ask questions on the draft plan with IFI representatives. Details of these events will be announced shortly.

Campion added: “We are urging anyone with an interest in the Great Western Lakes, especially anglers, other users of the lakes or those that live nearby, to read the draft plan and have their say by making a written submission online before the September 20th deadline.”

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) says it is investigating a "significant" fish kill on the River Erkina near Rathdowney in Co Laois earlier this month. 
 
Environmental and fisheries officers from the South-Eastern River Basin District were alerted to the incident by a member of the public on Wednesday 20 July.
 
The State agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats estimates that there could be in excess of 2,000 trout killed in the incident, in addition to other species such as salmon parr, lamprey and crayfish.

IFI notes that fish species in the Erkina are very vulnerable currently due to higher water temperatures and lower water levels at this time of year. If there is less oxygen in the water, fish find it extremely difficult to survive as a result.

Local anglers have expressed their dismay, with Rory Maher of Rathdowney Angling Club telling the Leinster Express that the incident has ended their 2022 season and may already rule out fishing in 2023.

“It is not just fishing impacted, it’s all the wildlife on the river, like ducks, herons, egrets, kingfishers — the whole ecosystem has been affected,” the club’s secretary Maher said.

Investigations into this fish kill incident are ongoing and IFI says is not in a position to comment on the cause at this stage.

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) says it is investigating a recent fish kill incident recorded on the Ballinagh River in Co Cavan.

Environmental and fisheries officers from the North-Western River Basin District were alerted to the incident by a member of the public on the evening of Tuesday 19 July.

Water samples were taken at the location and removed for scientific analysis.

The State agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats estimates that in excess of 150 fish were killed in the incident, including brown trout, stickleback and minnow.

IFI adds that as investigations are ongoing, it is not in a position to comment on the cause of the fish kill at this stage, pending further analysis of samples taken.

Dr Milton Matthews, director of the North-Western River Basin District with IFI acknowledged the ongoing support of the public in reporting suspected cases of water pollution and fish kills.

“We are grateful to the member of the public who reported this incident to us so promptly, which enabled our team to take immediate action and start our investigation without delay,” he said.

“Early notice is very often critical in determining the underlying cause of fish kill events, such as this one on the Ballinagh River.”

Members of the public are encouraged to call IFI’s new confidential 24-hour hotline number on 0818 34 74 24 to report any sightings of fish kills or suspected water pollution.

Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, the Loughs Agency has confirmed a fish kill on the River Mourne in Strabane, Co Tyrone where a number of dead adult salmon were discovered in the river’s lower stretch.

“Fishery officers are currently attempting to recover a number of dead fish to allow investigation,” the agency says.

“The cause at this moment is unknown. Officers at this time do not wish to speculate, but high-water temperatures and ambient air temperatures can result in conditions in our rivers that may be unfavourable to fish.

“Anyone recovering a dead fish should contact the Loughs Agency 24-hour response number on +44 287 134 2100.”

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) says it carried out 3,000 more patrols in 2021, boosted by its new Mobile Support Unit and Delta seagoing fleet.

Out of a total of 36,379 patrols, the State agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats initiated 103 prosecutions for fisheries-related offences last year and seized 1,261 illegal fishing items, including nearly 14km of illegal nets.

Officers also issued 293 fixed charge penalty notices and gave 715 cautions under fisheries legislation.

IFI’s new Mobile Support Unit (MSU) started patrols in June last year and is made up of specially selected crews who travel across the country in response to incidents. Its role is to support protection and enforcement along rivers, lakes and coastlines where the threat of illegal fishing is deemed high, based on local intelligence and reports from the public.

In its first six months the MSU undertook 127 patrols, seizing over 2km of illegal nets, IFI says.

Meanwhile, the new Delta seagoing fleet undertook 232 patrols along Ireland’s coastlines last year and is credited with an increase in illegal nets being seized at sea — 60 sea nets seized in 2021, compared with 45 sea nets seized in 2020.

To enable the Delta fleet to be deployed for more night-time patrols, nearly 40 fisheries officers have been trained as coxswains.

In line with other years, IFI says the peak months for seizure of illegal nets in 2021 were June, July and August. Crucially, this coincides with peak salmon runs as they enter rivers and start to move upstream during the summer months.

Type of patrols for Inland Fisheries Ireland in 2021Types and number of patrols carried out by Inland Fisheries Ireland in 2021

Wild Atlantic salmon continues to be the most ‘poached’ fish in the country and IFI says it is concerned at the persistently high level of illegal fishing activity. 

“We’re in the middle of a biodiversity crisis and Ireland’s freshwater fish are in real danger from illegal fishing activity,” IFI chief executive Francis O’Donnell said. “To combat this, Inland Fisheries Ireland has increased the number of enforcement patrols in the last year, boosted by our new Mobile Support Unit and Delta seagoing fleet.

“Our protection programme protects stocks of vulnerable fish species, such as wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout, as well as promoting biodiversity and sustainable angling for the benefit of future generations.”

Officers from IFI undertook 36,379 patrols of different types last year, an increase of 10% over the previous year. The agency credits higher patrol figures with the introduction of its specialist Mobile Response Unit, the increased use of its Delta seagoing fleet as well as the relaxation of travel restrictions following the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The most common methods for patrolling river banks, rivers, lakes and coastlines in 2021 were:

  • Vehicle and foot patrols (33,409 patrols)
  • Bicycle patrols (1,564 patrols)
  • Boat patrols (797 patrols)
  • Drone patrols (406 patrols)
  • Kayak patrols (161 patrols)
  • Personal watercraft patrols (33 patrols)
  • Quad patrols (5 patrols)
  • Irish Air Corps patrols (4 patrols)

Meanwhile, members of the public are being encouraged to continue reporting any suspicions of illegal fishing activity directly to IFI by telephoning its new 24-hour confidential hotline number on 0818 34 74 24.

Published in Angling

A farmer in Co Monaghan has been convicted of allowing silage effluent to enter a local river, following a prosecution taken by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

Thomas McEnaney, from Ardragh in Carrickmacross, pleaded guilty to charges, was fined €400 and ordered to pay an additional €5,273.15 for costs and expenses.

Sitting at Carrickmacross District Court on 23 May, Judge Raymond Finnegan convicted McEnaney of a breach of the Fisheries Acts for allowing silage effluent to enter a watercourse.

Ailish Keane, a senior fisheries environmental officer with IFI, gave evidence that the silage pit was not fit for purpose when it was inspected, as effluent — which is a highly toxic substance — was escaping through a surface water system and into an open watercourse.

According to water samples taken by IFI, the silage effluent from McEnaney’s property subsequently polluted a tributary of the Annalee River, an important watercourse for brown trout angling in the Erne River catchment.

Following the conviction, IFI is appealing to the farming and agricultural community to ensure that silage pits are fit for purpose and are regularly checked whilst in use to prevent accidental runoff to rivers and lakes.

Dr Milton Matthews, director of the North West River Basin District with IFI said: “Good water quality status in our rivers and lakes is vital for the preservation of healthy fish stocks and the aquatic habitat.

“Silage effluent is a highly polluting substance which can have severe and long-term impacts to aquatic ecosystems due to de-oxygenation and nutrient enrichment. Streams, rivers and lakes are particularly prone to any silage effluent discharges which may occur during the summer months when water levels are low which can result in major fish kill events.

“Regular inspection and maintenance of silage pits and slurry storage facilities is essential to ensure that accidental leaks or overflows are prevented.

“Inland Fisheries Ireland are appealing to the farming and agricultural community to ensure that silage pits are fit for purpose and are regularly inspected and maintained to ensure Ireland’s water quality, fisheries and aquatic biodiversity are protected.”

Published in Angling

July and August are typically the busiest months of the year for angling, so Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is issuing a timely reminder about the national regulations that are in place to protect pike and coarse fish.

Angling is a hugely popular leisure activity and sport in Ireland, with IFI-commissioned research revealing that over 325,000 adults enjoy it.

According to an Amárach Research omnibus survey in 2021, 18% of adults who have not tried angling before are “likely” to try it in the future.

IFI is the State agency with responsibility for the promotion of angling, as well as the protection, conservation and management of inland fisheries and sea angling resources.

“Historically, Ireland has been known for its salmon and trout fishing, but the country is also being hailed internationally for its pike and coarse fishing,” IFI’s head of business development Suzanne Campion says.

“However, the national regulations around pike and coarse fishing might not be as well known.

“There are conservation measures in place to protect pike and coarse fish under national byelaws. It is very important that every angler, including first-time anglers and experienced anglers, becomes familiar with these pieces of legislation to avoid any potential fines or prosecutions.”

Pike are one of largest freshwater fish species in Ireland and can reach over 15kg (33lbs) in weight, while coarse fish include species such as roach, bream, rudd, tench and perch.

Important Bye Laws

Under the national Pike Bye Law (no. 809/2006), there’s a ‘bag limit’ of one pike in any one day. This means that an angler can only keep and take away one pike and must carefully return any other pike caught to the same waterbody, safely.

The same bye law also prohibits the killing of any pike that measure longer than 50 centimetres. In these cases, the pike must be returned, safely, to the same waterbody.

Under the Coarse Fish Bye Law (no. 806/2006), there’s a bag limit of four coarse fish in any one day, meaning that if an angler catches more than four course fish, those must be returned, safely, to the same waterbody. In addition, any coarse fish that measure longer than 25 centimetres cannot be killed.

Meanwhile, there are other regulations that apply to all anglers, regardless of what type of species they are fishing for. For example, it is illegal to fish in Ireland with more than two rods; it is illegal to transfer live roach from one waterbody to another and finally, the use of live bait when angling is prohibited.

Breaches of fisheries legislation could result in fixed penalty fines, seizure of fishing equipment or criminal prosecutions.

Catch and Release

‘Catch and release’ is a conservation practice that is supported by IFI, whereby a fish is handled responsibly and put back into the same waterbody, safely.

When fishing for coarse fish, the use of large keep nets is encouraged; it is also recommended that pike and carp sacks are used to weigh the fish, before returning them safely to the same waterbody.

Campion added: “For anyone interested in angling or trying it out, there is an extensive network of very active clubs, associations and federations all over the country that organise coaching, events and competitions. There’s also a dedicated website for angling in Ireland at www.fishinginireland.info with very helpful information about regulations and bye laws, directories and resources.”

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has appealed to landowners to consult with it before carrying out works on or near watercourses after a Longford man was fined or disturbance of spawning beds.

Colm Ginty from Dunbeggan, Aughnacliffe, Co Longford was convicted and fined €1,000 and ordered to pay a further €1,727.91 towards costs and expenses at Longford District Court on 12 April following a prosecution taken by IFI.

Judge Bernie Owens convicted Ginty under Section 173(1)(d) Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959 for carrying out works on the Aughnacliffe River on 30 June 2021 that involved the removal of a substantial amount of gravel from the channel of the river and causing the destabilisation of the bank.

These works were carried out in an area of spawning habitat for wild brown trout and disturbed and injured sensitive spawning beds and bank where the spawn or fry of trout may be.

The court heard evidence from senior fisheries environmental officer Ailish Keane as to the adverse impacts caused by the actions, which occurred along a 90-metre section of the river.

Keane also outlined the negative long-term impacts that the works would have on the lifecycle of the brown trout for years to come.

She explained that IFI staff frequently consult with farmers who want to carry out works in rivers and outline the way works should be carried out to avoid potential damage to fish life.

The Aughnacliffe River is a tributary of the Erne River Catchment which contains a prime spawning habitat for wild brown trout.

Milton Matthews, director of the North West River Basin District at IFI said: “Unauthorised and unplanned instream works put undue pressure on our native fish stocks through loss or degradation of fisheries habitat and spawning areas.

“It is a landowner's responsibility to get in contact with their agricultural advisor or Inland Fisheries Ireland before carrying out any works in or along on watercourses. Failure to do so may result in unnecessary and damaging impact to fisheries habitat and may be liable to prosecution.”

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) says it is investigating a serious fish kill incident at the River Rye in Leixlip, Co Kildare.

Environmental and fisheries officers from the Eastern River Basin District in Dublin were alerted to the incident on the evening of Wednesday 8 June.

Water and fish samples were taken from the scene and removed for scientific analysis at an independent laboratory.

IFI estimates that there could be in excess of 500 mortalities of brown trout plus other fish species in the impacted area covering approximately 2km of river.

Investigations are ongoing and IFI, the State agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats, says it is not in a position to comment on the cause of the fish kill at this stage, pending further analysis of samples taken.

The River Rye (or Ryewater) is an important spawning river for brown trout and a key spawning channel for a highly sensitive population of Atlantic salmon within the River Liffey catchment area.

To report fish kills, members of the public are encouraged to call IFI’s confidential 24-hour hotline number on 0818 34 74 24.

Published in Angling

The State agency responsible for the conservation and protection of freshwater fish, habitats and sea angling resources is asking angling enthusiasts who have fished the Currane catchment in Co Kerry for their views.

Inland Fisheries Ireland’s (IFI) new online survey aims to gather anglers’ knowledge via the FLEKSI method, which was developed by IFI to help give a deep insight into the status of fisheries.

Over recent decades populations of sea trout and salmon throughout Ireland are facing serious challenges from various ecological changes.

IFI’s Currane STAMP programme is already assessing fish populations within their freshwater and marine phases, to report current status and provide scientific advice to support the development of appropriate conservation management measures.

The data gathered in the FLEKSI survey has the potential for citizens to get involved and provide important insights to guide fisheries management in the future.

This survey is for all anglers who fish in the Currane catchment for various species. IFI says all responses will help to build an understanding of the history and ecological status of your fishery.

FLEKSI — which stands for Fisher’s Local Ecological Knowledge Surveillance Indicators — aims to capture anglers’ knowledge and hands-on experience to help track changes in fish stocks and ecosystems.

Dr William Roche, a senior research officer with IFI and manager of the STAMP project said: “Anglers are keen observers of nature and are aware of changes within their fisheries. We are looking for anglers to share their knowledge and contribute to the conservation and management of this important sea‑trout and salmon fishery.

“The Currane fishery is particularly highly regarded by anglers, but there is grave concern about the health of its fish stocks in recent years.

“By capturing these observations, which inevitably span an individual angler’s entire angling career, we believe their unique insight into the fisheries environment will help us to track and understand changes in Currane’s sea trout stocks and the ecosystem as a whole.”

The Currane catchment in Co Kerry is Ireland’s most important sea trout fishery, with a long history of high-quality fishing, particularly for larger sea trout. The fishery is renowned internationally and has been the cornerstone of sea trout and salmon fishing in the southwest of the country since the 1900s. 

IFI says the FLEKSI survey will give anglers on the Currane catchment an exciting opportunity to share their knowledge as citizen scientists and to make a valuable contribution towards fisheries management on the fishery.

If you fish the Currane system, you are invited to fill out the online survey HERE.

Each participant also can opt to enter into a prize draw for angling tackle, with one €200 voucher and one €100 voucher to be won.

Published in Angling
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