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Inland Fisheries Ireland to Develop Management Plan for Western Lakes

2nd September 2021
Aerial view of Lough Carra in Co Mayo
Aerial view of Lough Carra in Co Mayo, one of the seven Western Lakes Credit: IFI

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has confirmed that it is to develop a medium to long-term management plan for the Western Lakes.

The State agency with responsibility for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats has been formally asked by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications to proceed with its proposal to develop an evidence-based management plan for the seven lakes and to submit timelines for the plan by the end of this month.

The news comes just says after it was confirmed that a controversial fisheries bye-law that covered the Western Lakes will be withdrawn, as Galway Bay FM reports.

The Western Lakes grouping comprises Lough Corrib, Lough Mask and Lough Carra in the Galway fishery district, Lough Cullin and Lough Conn in the Mayo district, Lough Sheelin in Limerick and Lough Arrow in Sligo.

IFI chief executive Francis O’Donnell said the plan will focus on key areas such as biodiversity and whole ecosystem conservation as the basis for the protection and development of wild salmonid stocks such as brown trout.

“From our research to date, it’s clear that the Western Lakes are under threat, and we must take action underpinned by best available scientific data to protect and conserve the unique status and importance of these salmonid waters in the long-term,” he said.

“The new management plan should inspire a positive vision for the future of the Western Lakes and serve to protect them as they are topographically distinct waters in terms of salmonid habitat.”

Development of the management plan is likely to include catchment-wide surveys to identify fish population dynamics, salmonid habitat deficits as well as water quality pressure points.

Where feasible, habitat restoration and development projects will be carried out as well as vegetation management on land and water adjacent to the lakes, IFI adds.

The management of invasive species, such as various coarse fish and curly waterweed, will also be an important feature of the plan.

And an emphasis on stakeholder engagement between State bodies, public representatives, angling clubs, conservation groups and local communities is also expected to be a key component.

O’Donnell added: “These lakes are among some of the last remaining wild brown trout fisheries in Western Europe, so it’s critical that the plan is subject to rigorous environmental governance and that it takes ecological and socio-economic impacts into account.”

Published in Angling
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