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#Angling - An international fisheries biologist has suggested a novel approach to boosting numbers of wild Atlantic salmon in Irish rivers — by moving wild fry from more abundant areas to weaker spots within a catchment.

Dr Kyle Young, a research associate from the University of Zurich, was recently invited to give a presentation as part of the Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) Research Seminar Series, at which he outlined his proposal for translocation of salmon fry.

Natural survival bottlenecks are experienced by Atlantic salmon through each stage of its lifecycle, from egg to fry, fry to parr, parr to smolt and so on, he outlined. Under natural conditions, the vast majority of wild salmon fry do not survive to become parr.

These so called “doomed majorities” can be present in sections of rivers with an initial abundance of emergent salmon fry, whose subsequent population size is constrained by density-dependent mortality and by the carrying capacity of the habitat.

Dr Young proposes that such fry could be translocated from these areas to low or non-productive sections of the same river where suitable habitat is present, in an effort to potentially boost the overall production of native wild salmon populations.

This approach may minimise the unintended negative consequences of more conventional salmon stocking programmes where wild salmon broodstock are taken from spawning areas and eggs fertilised in the hatchery.

Hatchery-origin fish are also typically less well-adapted to thrive than their wild compatriots and the overall fitness of the wild component of a population may be compromised through lower overall survival, interbreeding and competition for resources with stocked fish.

IFI’s head of R&D Dr Cathal Gallagher said: “We were delighted to welcome Dr Young to our headquarters in Citywest to further explore the potential of this novel proposal to boost wild Atlantic salmon populations.

“This iconic species is of both major conservation and socio-economic importance to Ireland. Although wild salmon are widely distributed in Irish freshwaters, their long-term sustainability remains under continued threat from a variety of factors. These include habitat degradation, issues related to aquaculture, oceanic and climatic change, pollution, illegal fishing and over-fishing.”

Following the seminar, Dr Young visited the National Salmonid Index Catchment (NSIC) at the River Erriff, the Galway Salmon Fishery and the Cong hatchery facility to further discuss his theorised approach to salmon stocking with IFI management, field staff and researchers.

IFI are discussing the possibility of undertaking experimental trials with this novel approach to boost juvenile salmon production upstream of their trapping facilities in the Erriff catchment.

Published in Angling

#Salmon - Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) confirms that 65 farmed salmon have been caught in five rivers in Counties Galway and Mayo.

The news follows concerns raised by wild salmon conservationists since a major fish kill by jellyfish stings that has wiped out stocks along the West Coast in recent weeks, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

But fears regarding salmon farm management and oversight have also grown as at yesterday (Monday 9 October), IFI understood that no escapes of farm salmon had been reported to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine by salmon farm owners.

“The licencing regime and best management practice should provide assurance to the State that controls are in place that safeguard our heritage, this does not appear to be the case in this instance,” said the IFI board in a statement.

As of yesterday, 65 farmed salmon escapees have turned up on the Delphi, Erriff, Kylemore/Dawros, Newport and Bunowen rivers.

The scale of the escape is not fully understood at this time as the majority of fish were caught by anglers, who generally only encounter a small proportion of salmon in a river.

IFI says its scientists are analysing captured fish in an attempt to identify the history and maturity status of the farmed salmon, and create a fuller picture of the risks to wild salmon stocks.

Of the farmed fish examined by yesterday, three males were mature on capture and had the potential to spawn in the wild.

IFI adds that the various catchments are already under pressure due to significant decreases in salmon runs over the last twenty years.

All fish entering the Erriff are monitored in an upstream trap allowing for the removal of farmed fish. But there are no such trapping facilities available on the other systems.

IFI says its staff will continue to monitor the situation despite the difficulty in assessing exact numbers without details from the affected fish farms.

Published in Angling

#Jellyfish - Four-fifths of the farmed salmon stock at Killary Harbour has been lost to fatal jellyfish stings over the last few weeks, according to The Irish Times.

The Marine Institute has confirmed that naturally occurring swarms of the tiny Muggiaea atlantica and the larger mauve stinger are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of fish across four fish farms from Connemara to Bantry Bay.

It marks the worst recorded salmon farm fish kill since 250,000 salmon were lost in Northern Ireland in 2008.

Farmed salmon in Connemara alone was worth €38 million in 2016, as the Connacht Tribune reports.

Meanwhile, wild salmon conservationists have also raised concerns over the potential impact of farmed fish that have reportedly escaped into Ireland’s salmon rivers as a result.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Angling - An angling bye-law focusing on salmon and sea trout has come into effect for Burrishoole, Co Mayo.

Sean Kyne, Minister of State with responsibility for Inland Fisheries, introduced the Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout Shramore (Burrishoole)(Catch and Release) Bye Law No 951 into operation on Tuesday 13 June.

The new bye-law provides for catch and release angling for salmon and sea trout over 40cm in length in the Shramore (Burrishoole) system, and applies to Lough Furnace and the Seven Arch Bridge on the L5435 (old Newport Road). 

Operative from Wednesday 14 June till Saturday 30 September, the bye-law and provides for the use of single barbless hooks while prohibiting the use of worms as bait in angling for salmon and sea trout.

‘Catch and release’ angling refers to the method of carefully handling any fish caught and immediately returning the fish alive to the water. This form of angling has a significant positive impact on the survival rate of released fish. 

In addition, salmon and sea trout caught by fly fishing using single barbless hooks have a greater chance of survival than fish caught on barbed hooks. Barbless hooks do less damage, are easier to remove and reduce handling time which can be an important factor influencing survival.

Salmon and sea trout are some of Ireland’s main wild fish species attracting domestic and overseas anglers alike. Angling contributes €836 million to the Irish economy annually and supports upwards of 11,000 jobs which are often in rural communities.

Dr Ciaran Byrne, chief executive of Inland Fisheries Ireland, said: “Our salmon and sea trout stocks are extremely valuable. These new measures at Shramore, Burrishoole, will allow us to introduce a number of important methods which will help us protect these populations into the future.”

Anglers are requested to familiarise themselves the details of the new bye-law, available as a PDF to read or download HERE.

Published in Angling

#Angling - Sean Kyne TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Inland Fisheries, has officially opened a new fish counter facility in the designated spring salmon fishery on the River Lackagh.

The project, which was devised and delivered by Inland Fisheries Ireland, was completed in recent months and will provide important data for the future management of spring salmon, grilse and sea trout stocks for the River Lackagh catchment, which incorporates Lough Beagh, situated in Glenveagh National Park.

This major infrastructural project, which was funded under IFI’s Salmon Conservation Fund, includes installation of a crump weir, Logie fish counter and access road to the Lackagh River at Creeslough, Co Donegal.

The counter will provide verifiable, accurate data on the size, duration and timing of fish migration through the fishery.

The River Lackagh counter project was developed by IFI in response to closure of the River Lackagh salmon fishery in 2007, when scientific advice indicated that salmon stocks had fallen to below their conservation limit.

The salmon fishery remained closed to enable fish stocks re-build until 2013 when electrofishing surveys confirmed that juvenile salmon stocks had recovered sufficiently to allow for the re-opening of the salmon fishery on a ‘catch and release’ basis.

IFI says the new counter will be a valuable addition to its national suite of index counters and represents the organisation’s first counter on the north Donegal coast.

Minister Kyne said he is “delighted to officially open this fish counter which will help protect fish stocks in the area. Angling is a valuable asset to local communities here in Donegal. This development will help us ensure the sustainability of fish populations for future generations.”

IFI chief executive added: “This fish counter provides real time data on fish stocks in the fishery and allows us to adapt to changing stock levels. This is crucial both from a conservation and economic viewpoint as this fishery contains valuable wild fish populations.

“I would like to acknowledge all our partners in this project who recognised the importance of this project and worked with us to delivery this facility for the local area.”

Angling in Ireland currently contributes €836 million to the Irish economy annually, supporting upwards of 11,000 jobs which are often in rural and peripheral communities.

IFI’s National Strategy for Angling Development aims to ensure the sustainable development of the natural angling resource in a conservation focused manner. If realised, the strategy could help increase the economic contribution of angling by €53 million annually and support 18,000 jobs.

IFI collaborated with several partners on the River Lackagh project including Donegal County Council, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and ESB Networks. IFI also acknowledges the assistance of Creeslough & District Angling Association, owners Hillary Keegan and John Coyle and service providers WD Buchanan & Co Ltd, H Harkin Plan Hire Ltd and Source Civil Ltd.

Published in Angling

#Fishing - Ireland’s stocks of Atlantic wild salmon are in a “serious position” due to the failure of the driftnet fishing ban to stem their decline.

That was the grave message from the annual Salmon Watch Ireland conference in Galway this past weekend, as The Irish Times reports.

Inland Fisheries Ireland chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne added that conservation measures put in place a decade ago “don’t seem to have worked” as survival rates of salmon returning to Ireland’s rivers have fallen from 20% in 1980 to just 5% today.

Among the factors contributing to this decline, says Dr Byrne, are the impact of fish farming, by-catch from fishing trawlers, and climate change.

Research into the latter by Dr Ken Whelan suggests it has caused an “alarming” rise in salmon dying at sea, prompting stocks to move further north away from Ireland – and ultimately threatening the extinction of Irish salmon.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

At a sitting of Galway and District Court on the 7th of February 2017, Judge Mary Fahy convicted Mr. Gerry Farragher of Rinnaharney, Annaghdown, Co. Galway, for the illegal use of a net to catch salmon, in breach of Section 96 of the Fisheries Act, 1959. Mr. Farragher pleaded guilty to the charge in court.

Solicitor Dioraí Ford, representing Inland Fisheries Ireland, outlined the facts of the case. Mr. Ford explained that Fisheries Officers had found the net in question on Lough Corrib at 3.10am on the night of the 5th of July, 2016. The officers lay in wait until 11.25am when Mr Farragher approached the area and serviced the net by wading from the shore to an island. On leaving the area he was apprehended by the Fisheries Officers on duty.

Mr. Farragher told the Judge that it was only a small bit of net on his own land however Judge Fahy disagreed, commenting that wild salmon are very scarce these days. She also pointed out that it would be cheaper to visit a restaurant to eat salmon rather than paying fines in court.

Judge Fahy heard that Mr. Farragher had been convicted and fined in 2014 for netting and taking salmon from the same area. Mr. Farragher confirmed that he had paid his previous fines, and the judge stated that if he persisted in this activity, a prison sentence would be considered if he appeared before the court again.

Mr. Farragher was fined €500 plus costs of €600 and given six months to pay while the net in question was forfeited.

Dr Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “Lough Corrib is one of Ireland’s renowned angling destinations, known for its wild brown trout and salmon fishing. It is a shame to see individuals continuing to illegally fish the area, an action which is essentially an environmental crime.

We are delighted with the outcome of this case which highlights that those who are caught will be held accountable. Our Fisheries Officers patrol the waterways in overt and covert operations with a view to protecting the wild fish populations in this area.”

Published in Fishing

The first salmon of 2017 has been caught in the Careysville Fishery on the Munster Blackwater on the opening day of the river, according to Inland Fisheries Ireland. Angler Ronan O’Connor caught a fresh run salmon on Wednesday, 1st of February in Fermoy, Co. Cork.

The salmon, which weighed 7lbs, was confirmed as the first salmon caught in 2017 by Inland Fisheries Ireland today. The fish was caught while the river was high with around two foot visibility at 4pm on Wednesday. O’Connor’s success followed a morning of stormy weather which cleared slightly before he managed to catch the elusive salmon.

Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “The 2017 fishing season has commenced in earnest now and we are delighted that the first salmon of the New Year has been caught. Ireland is known as an angling destination across Europe as a result of its indigenous wild fish populations and impressive scenery. With over 273,600 domestic anglers in Ireland, Ronan O’Connor did extremely well to secure the title for catching the first fish of 2017.

We look forward to growing angling participation in Ireland even more this year. Our fisheries resource is hugely valuable and offers rural communities sustainable tourism and job opportunities outside of the traditional tourist seasons. We will continue to work with these communities to develop our angling infrastructure and improve access with a view to increasing angling participation and growing local economic growth as a result.”

Anglers looking for fishing information in Ireland in 2017 can visit www.fishinginireland.info for the latest news and fishing reports. For those looking to try out fishing for the first time, Inland Fisheries Ireland will run a number of Education and Outreach initiatives throughout the year.

Published in Angling

#Angling - Angling enthusiasts fear for the health of Ireland’s salmon stocks after the first ever catch-less January since records began, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

Dubliner Ronan O’Connor landed Ireland’s first salmon of 2017, a seven-pounder, on the Blackwater in Cork in recent days – over a month since the season began on open rivers across the island.

Towards the end of January, Belfast Telegraph angling correspondent Vic Thomas said the situation was “worrying” and “puzzling”.

"About five years ago the first fish was always caught on the first day in January - it is unusual,” he noted.

Thomas’ concerns have been echoed by River Downes Fishery owner Shane Gallagher, who added that “it is difficult to remain optimistic about the future of Irish salmon angling when more than half our rivers are closed to anglers and salmon licence sales have almost halved since 2002.”

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

#Seafood - A Howth-based seafood company is hoping to broaden Irish people’s taste for fish beyond the usual salmon, as TheJournal.ie reports.

Winners of the recent BIM National Seafood Award for Innovation in Seafood Processing, Oceanpath teamed up with Goatsbridge Trout Farm in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny seven years ago, seeing opportunity in an underdeveloped market for Irish trout.

The key, according to Oceanpath’s commercial director Ken Ecock, was to come up with a product that adhered to the same qualities that people expect from their salmon fillets: reasonably priced, easy to cook, and free of bones.

Supermarket promotions to demonstrate the taste, as well as quick and easy recipes and products such as smoked trout and even pate, have also helped the Irish public gradually come round to a homegrown fish that’s usually imported from elsewhere in Europe to our fish counters.

And as salmon prices rise over high demand and supply challenges, the trout option is growing ever more attractive for the Irish fish supper.

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
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