#SALMON THREAT - Just three out of every 100 wild salmon returned to Northern Ireland's rivers last year - prompting concerns that the species has declined past the point of no return, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.
Following a recent meeting of the Stormont culture, arts and leisure committee where the issue was discussed, South Belfast MLA Michael McGimpsey shared his belief "that the public do not appreciate just how precarious the situation is.
"It is estimated that 1,000 to 1,500 salmon return to Northern Ireland each year to spawn. Of these, half are wild salmon and the other half locally hatched salmon.”
McGimpsey said it is "beyond question that there has been a serious collapse in local wild salmon numbers and this is a situation which has implications, not just for local anglers but for our tourist industry."
Claiming that NI's wild salmon stocks are now "around dodo levels", he demanded "totally drastic action in and around salmon" to ensure the species' future.
Earlier this year, as previously reported on Afloat.ie, Northern Ireland's Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) has called for a voluntary ban on offshore salmon fishing.
The move to stop issuing licences for commercial salmon nets that may "contravene European law" off Antrim's north coast was welcomed by river angling campaigners NoSalmonNets, who have been using social media to promote their cause.
Meanwhile, DCAL insists that any court action from salmon netters who may challenge the ban "should not prove an obstacle" to extending the salmon stock preserving measures. Proposals will be put to the minister by the end of this month with a view to enacting legislation next year.
The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.