The new facility - developed by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) in co-operation with Interreg IVA (CIRB), the Irish Angling Development Alliance (IADA) and the local Meathhill Angling Club - will facilitate the disinfection of angling equipment on entry to the lake, helping to ensure that unwanted alien invasive species and harmful fish pathogens can be kept out of our natural fisheries.
Moreover, the development will also provide a template for further such facilities on fishery watercourses throughout the country.
The disinfection station is located at the entrance to Ballyhoe Lake, a prime Irish specimen tench fishery.
The entrance gate and the disinfection station are secured with combination locks, the numbers for which are available through nominated members of the Meathhill Angling Club (contact numbers for these members are provided on the tank). Members of the club will replace the disinfectant and manage the facility locally, as necessary.
Once opened, the tank contains a disinfection container for boots, keep nets, landing nets and stink bags. Disposable gloves are provided for angler use while disinfecting, and a brush is available to scrub boots, as well as a spray bottle for boats coming onto the lake.
Signage adjacent to and underneath the lid of the tank provides step-by-step instructions for the angler. Once the gear has been disinfected, the anglers apply a tag to his or her net to show that the process has been completed. Different colour tags will be utilised at the discretion of the operators.
Congratulating Meathhill Angling Club and the IADA at the launch, Minister O'Dowd said: "Angling clubs and federations the length and breadth of Ireland are key to the protection of our angling resources. By providing facilities such as this, we are adding to the goodwill and community commitment of Meathhill Angling Club to protect their fishery, while also ensuring access to it.
"This access helps to safeguard the sustainability of our valuable resource which will continue to bring much needed revenue to the local community through responsible angling activity."
The minister added that he "can’t emphasise enough the role anglers and clubs have on the frontline in the fight against invasive species, which supplements the great work in the area carried out by IFI with the support of representative bodies such as IADA."