The Irish Pike Society (IPS) and the Irish Federation of Pike Angling Clubs (IFPAC) have welcomed the annulment by the High Court on Monday 25th February of ‘The Designated Salmonid Waters Bye-Law’, which has provided for the killing of four pike of any size per angler per day on a number of Irish waterways. The bye-law also designated such waters to be managed primarily for the benefit of salmonid species of fish.
The ruling of the High Court was in response to a challenge from the Irish Pike Society and Irish Federation of Pike Angling Clubs to the bye-law under Section 57 of the Inland Fisheries Act of 2010. The decision will be welcomed by national angling bodies, tourism organisations, and local businesses.
It was apparent from the outset that the bye-law, which allowed for the ecologically devastating depletion of Ireland’s previously statutorily protected pike population, was based on uninformed views and that there was no scientific basis for the provisions contained in it. Recent research carried out by Inland Fisheries Ireland, the statutory body for the management of Ireland’s inland fisheries, found that pike feed primarily on species other than salmonid fish.
The available scientific evidence also showed that the bye-law would in fact be hugely detrimental to salmonid stocks. A detailed report from Dr Bruno Broughton, an internationally renowned Fisheries Management Consultant, severely criticised the bye-law on a number of grounds.
Despite the defeat of the bye-law, the arguments for it, which promote the daily killing of thousands of pike in over 30% of Irish waterways, are still used to justify pike culling practices. The practice of ‘gill-netting’ is still used by Inland Fisheries Ireland to reduce pike levels. This involves thousands of meters of net being strung across shallow bays to capture and kill pike as they travel to their spawning beds.
Ian Forde, Chairman of the Irish Pike Society said: “We welcome the decision of the High Court, which is the result of a massive effort from federations, clubs and individual anglers who raised funds to mount a challenge to the bye-law by way of a statutory appeal. This is a good decision for anglers in Ireland – not only pike anglers, but also trout anglers, and the visiting tourists who spend close to €800 million every year in our economy.
However, the continued culling of pike populations is still permitted, despite a lack of current scientific research to support any argument for it. Pike anglers in Ireland implore the Government to suspend pike culling measures such as gill-netting and face the real problems concerning inland fisheries head on”.