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Displaying items by tag: Salmon

The Loughs Agency will retain salmon carcass tag numbers for licence holders for the 2023 season in line with the policy followed in the previous two years.

Based on the information collected in 2022, a continual fall in salmon numbers has been recorded year on year, and consequently the precautionary approach previously adopted needs to be maintained, the agency says.

Its interim policy was introduced for the 2020/2021 season whereby the number of tags issued with a game angling licence was reduced to a maximum of one blue tag (1 March to 31 May) and two black tags (1 June to 31 October).

The agency says that after careful evaluation it was decided to maintain the previous position adopted in both 2021 and 2022 while introducing in-year reviews of the salmon runs based on fish counter data, annual angling returns and run strength.

The principal objective of this measure is to carefully manage salmon in the Foyle system due to concern from within the agency over conservation levels of the species.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Loughs Agency has suspended netting in the Foyle area and restricted angling ion the River Finn as a result of a significant drop in recorded salmon migrations upstream.

“It is the view of some stakeholders that the agency should manage carcass tags on a catchment-by-catchment basis,” it says. “The use of real-time figures can be beneficial in informing decision-making on the number of tags to be distributed per year, and how many tags can be given out for angling in each catchment.”

This viewpoint is to be considered in regulatory changes once actions from the review can be implemented, the agency adds.

In the majority of rivers throughout Northern Ireland and in many locations globally, catch and release is now mandatory for salmon angling due to the pressures on sustainable populations. In these areas, no carcass tags are issued, and anglers are forbidden from retaining any fish.

It is encouraging that most anglers in the Foyle area are aware of these pressures, and now voluntarily practice catch and release, the Loughs Agency says.

The agency also emphasised that it “recognises the value of anglers on the rivers and their contributions towards sustainability”.

Published in Angling
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To boost conservation efforts, anglers who wish to catch and keep wild salmon from Cork’s Lower River Lee in Cork in 2023 are advised by Inland Fisheries Ireland that ‘brown tag’ regulations are coming into force from Wednesday 1 February.

The measures are included in the Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme (Amendment) Regulations, recently signed into law by the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD.

Under brown tag regulations, an angler who wishes to ‘harvest’ a wild salmon (ie take or keep it) must attach a brown tag as well as a standard blue tag to the fish.

To help conserve stocks of wild salmon within the Lower River Lee, No 5 or Cork District, a total of 180 brown tags — 28 more than that issued in 2022 — will be available for the season and will be distributed to anglers with a 2023 rod licence through a series of online lotteries.

Up to a quarter of the available number of brown tags can be issued at one time, under the Wild Salmon and Seatrout Tagging Scheme Regulations. Therefore, 45 brown tags will be selected through the first online lottery on Friday 27 January.

Any anglers interested in entering the first draw are invited to email their request to Inland Fisheries Ireland at [email protected] from Wednesday 11 until Wednesday 25 January. Within this email, anglers must provide their name, contact address, contact telephone number and they must also quote their 2023 Salmon Licence number.

Anglers with a 2023 rod licence who are not allocated a brown tag are only permitted to fish for salmon on a ‘catch and release’ basis on the Lower River Lee, where the salmon is returned safely to the same waterbody.

Further details are available from Inland Fisheries Ireland’s website or by phoning its Macroom office on (026) 41221.

The brown tag regulations come into force on the Lower River Lee in Cork from 1 February and will remain in place until midnight on 30 September.

Published in Angling

The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, has approved legislation that will govern the wild salmon and sea trout fisheries in 2023. These will come into effect from Sunday, 1st January 2023.

Minister Ryan said: “81 rivers will be available for salmon and sea trout fishing in 2023. This facilitates careful management of this important natural resource, for which conservation and sustainability are paramount. 48 of the rivers will be fully open, with a further 33 open to ‘catch and release’ angling. The general improvements in stocks from 2022 have been maintained for 2023. However, collective effort and persistence are required to see the state of all individual river stocks improve over time. The stocks themselves are completely dependent on everybody increasing our efforts in facing up to environmental, climate and biodiversity impacts from human interventions.”

To support the legislation for 2023, Minister Ryan received management advice from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) in relation to over 140 genetically individual wild salmon stocks in Ireland, which was based on individual scientific assessments. The assessments are carried out every year by the Technical Expert Group on Salmon (TEGOS) – an all-island independent scientific group comprising experts from a range of bodies.

IFI, supported by TEGOS, determined: which of the individual stocks were sufficiently above their specific conservation limit to be open to fishing; which rivers did not meet a sufficient level above the limit but met a sufficient percentage of the limit to be classified for catch and release angling; and which rivers were so far below the limit as to close them to any exploitation.

The conservation limit is the number of adult spawning fish required to maintain a healthy and sustainable stock in each individual river. The key issue to support increased stocks is improvement in water quality. Many of our rivers are not at a sufficiently high water quality level to support sustainable stocks, often caused by agricultural activities, and to a lesser extent, insufficient treatment of waste water.

This year’s advice was also made available as part of a statutory public consultation process during which written submissions from stakeholders (including the recreational and commercial fishing and the environmental sectors) were sought on the draft regulations.

Management advice based on the TEGOS assessment of rivers/estuaries/harbours is that:

  • 48 rivers are to be open as a sustainable surplus has been identified in these rivers;
  • 33 rivers are to be classified as open for “catch and release” angling;
  • 66 rivers are to be closed as they have no sustainable surplus available.

Minister Ryan added: “Ireland has long been internationally recognised for embedding the conservation imperative as a vital component of our management of the precious salmon resource. While the policy has served us well for more than a decade, throughout 2022 my Department has been evaluating the effectiveness of current management policy and its implementation. I intend, as part of the broader inland fisheries policy review currently underway, to set out options for improvement, with an even greater focus on conservation, in our management regime and for modernising licensing requirements, to ensure access to the resource where its conservation and biodiversity needs are met.”

Inland Fisheries bye-laws 2022

  • S.I. No. 685 of 2022 Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2022:

These regulations provide for the quotas of fish that can be harvested by commercial fishing engines and rod and line from those rivers identified in Schedule 2 of the regulations. The regulations also provide for the use of brown tags in specified rivers which are identified in Schedule 4.

  • Angling Bye-law No. 996, 2022: 

This bye-law prohibits the use of any fishhooks, other than single or double barbless hooks, and also prohibits the use of worms as bait in angling for all species of fish in the waters specified in the bye-law.  This is to avoid the use of hooks and baits which are not conducive to fish survival and to ensure that the objective of catch and release fishing is not frustrated.

  • Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (Bag Limits) Bye-law No. 997, 2022:

This bye-law provides for an annual bag limit of 10 fish being either salmon or sea trout (over 40 cm) per angler and provides for a season bag limit of three fish in the period 1st January to 11th May, a daily bag limit of three fish from 12th May to 31st August and a daily bag limit of one fish from 1st September to the end of the season. The bye-law also provides for the use of single or double barbless hooks and prohibits the use of worms as bait once the specified numbers of fish have been caught in the specified periods.

 

  • Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (Catch and Release) Bye-law No. 998, 2022:

This bye-law provides for catch and release in respect of salmon and sea trout (over 40cm) in rivers that are meeting at least 50% of their Conservation Limit as mentioned in the bye-law. The bye-law also provides for the use of single or double barbless hooks and prohibits the use of worms as bait in angling for salmon and sea trout over 40cm.

  • Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (River Suir) Bye-law No. 999, 2022:

This bye-law provides for catch and release in angling for salmon (any size) and sea trout (over 40cm) in the River Suir (including the waters of the Rivers Clodiagh, Lingaun and Blackwater) and also prohibits the use of worms, prawn, shrimp or any other crustacean, or artificial forms thereof, as bait and any fish hooks other than single or double barbless hooks during the period 17th March to 30th September.

  • Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (River Slaney) Bye-law No. 1000, 2022:

This bye-law extends the annual close season in angling for salmon, sea trout and brown trout in the River Slaney and its tributaries from 1st September to 16th March in any year. The bye-law also provides for the use of artificial fly only using single or double barbless hooks upstream of the Railway Bridge, Enniscorthy, and provides for the use of single barbless hooks and a ban on worms as bait downstream of the Railway Bridge, when angling for salmon or sea trout (any size).

  • Conservation of Sea Trout Bye-law No. 1001, 2022:

This bye-law provides for a daily bag limit of three sea trout (less than 40cm in length) and provides for the use of single or double barbless hooks and prohibits the use of worms as bait once the specified number of sea trout have been caught.

  • Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (Closed Rivers) Bye-law No. C.S. 333, 2022:

Prohibits the taking or attempting to take by rod and line salmon and sea trout (over 40cm) in the rivers specified in the bye-law.

Published in Angling
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State-owned forestry company Coillte and its contractor, Oliver Kelly Timber Harvesting Ltd, have both pleaded guilty to breaches of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959 in a case brought by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

Following reports of pollution in November 2021 along the Glenaboy River, a tributary of the Bride River in Co Cork, officers from IFI found heavy deposits of silt, vehicle tracks in the river bed and a lack of adequate silt control in an area where Oliver Kelly Timber Harvesting Ltd had been carrying out thinning operations on behalf of Coillte.

As a result, IFI estimated that significant damage had been done to spawning beds and that a valuable stretch of the river had been lost to spawning wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout that year.

Sitting before Judge Colm Roberts at Mallow District Court on Monday 28 November, Coillte pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 171 (1) of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959.

Also before the court on that date was Oliver Kelly Timber Harvesting Ltd, which Judge Roberts believed were the main instigators of the silt discharge to the Glenaboy River.

Judge Roberts afforded Coillte the benefit of the Probation of Offenders Act and ordered a payment of €2,000 to Tallow TidyTowns Committee.

Oliver Kelly Timber Harvesting Ltd were also found guilty of a breach of Section 171 as well as Section 173 of the 1959 Act and Section 3 of the Local Government (Water Pollution) (Amendment) Act 1977. The company was also given the benefit of the Probation Act and ordered to pay €2,000 to the Tallow Anglers Association, €1,500 to the Tallow TidyTowns Committee and post a bond of €1,500 for a period of two years under Section 1-1(2) of the Probation Act.

The court heard evidence that IFI officers, including senior fisheries environmental officer Andrew Gillespie, visited the location between Sunday 20 and Tuesday 22 November following reports of pollution.

There was evidence of silt in the river over a five-kilometre stretch downstream of the thinning operation’s location. Gillespie highlighted that the time of the occurrence, in November, was particularly relevant as it was the critical spawning period and that the effect of the silt discharge would be to smother any eggs deposited in the spawning gravels.

Speaking in court, Judge Roberts remarked that Coillte “didn’t properly supervise” the thinning operations and that their contractor “didn’t supervise properly as he was overstretched,” before observing that “when State agencies fail in their obligations, we are in big trouble”.

Sean Long, director of the South Western River Basin District at IFI welcomed the decision, noting that neither Coillte nor their contractor had been before the courts before and had cooperated fully with IFI to implement immediate mitigation measures at the site.

Speaking after verdict was delivered, Long said: “Located in the Munster Blackwater Special Area of Conservation, the Glenaboy River is a very important spawning ground for returning wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout, which are very vulnerable species protected by conservation measures and legislation.

“Sadly, the damage that was done to these spawning beds through pollution was significant, meaning that a valuable stretch of this river had been lost for spawning salmon and sea trout last year.”

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has launched a funding call of up to €1 million to support vital conservation projects around the country through the Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund.

Since 2016, more than €6 million in grants have been awarded to over 280 projects throughout the country under various funding schemes operated by IFI.

From now until Friday 16 December, eligible angling clubs, fishery owners and other stakeholders are invited to express their interest in applying for funding to support fisheries conservation through IFI’s Habitats and Conservation Scheme.

Priority will be given to projects that focus on habitat rehabilitation and conservation, such as rehabilitating damaged river habitats, improving water quality and helping fish overcome physical barriers like weirs.

In similar schemes in 2022, a total of €1,123,000 in funding was approved for 35 habitats and conservation projects based in Cavan, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Leitrim, Limerick, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Wexford, Westmeath and Wicklow.

A rock ramp fish pass on the Burren River at Ballinacarrig, Co Carlow | Credit: IFIA rock ramp fish pass on the Burren River at Ballinacarrig, Co Carlow | Credit: IFI

Suzanne Campion, head of business development at IFI said that the scheme’s focus is on protecting and conserving fish species and their habitats for future generations.

“Since 2016, projects under the Habitats and Conservation Fund have delivered approximately 29km of in-stream maintenance works and 37 kilometres of habitat restoration works. As well as that, 83km of spawning and nursery habitats have been made more accessible to migratory fish species, through five fish passage projects,” she said.

“Under the Habitats and Conservation Scheme, which is made possible through fishing licence and permit income, groups can now apply for grants to fund projects and measures in 2023 to continue this vital environmental work.”

In addition to the €1 million in funding available through the Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund, up to €50,000 is available through the Midlands Fisheries Fund.

An information guide about the funding call is available to download. As part of the two-step process, all applicants must firstly complete an ‘Expression of Interest’ application on Inland Fisheries Ireland’s online grant management portal before 5.30pm on Friday 16 December.

After expressions of interest have been completed, full applications that align to fund objectives can be submitted via the online grant management portal until 5.30pm on Friday 27 January 2023. Decisions on applications and grants will be announced by IFI in May 2023.

Published in Angling

On a special climate-focused edition of RTÉ’s Prime Time this past week, the news programme put the plight of Ireland’s wild salmon stocks in the spotlight.

Reporter Oonagh Smyth visited the Dawros River in Connemara where salmon runs have allegedly shrunk from as many as 3,000 two decades ago to less than 900 today.

These figures lead to an even worse picture nation-wide, with data showing that only 150,000 wild salmon returned to their spawning grounds in 2019 — a decline of almost 80% on the more than 685,000 salmon recorded in 2000.

Various reasons are behind this alarming fall, with climate change chief among them — forcing salmon to migrate further to find colder waters, and interrupting the food webs that sustain the fish at sea and in our rivers.

But local factors have also been blamed, including the licensing of open-cage salmon aquaculture against which conservation groups and some arms of the State are united in their opposition due to the risks of sea lice infestations.

RTÉ News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has opened a new footbridge over the Owenea River near Glenties in Co Donegal.

In a welcome boost for angling access on the Owenea fishery, the new steel footbridge was commissioned by IFI to replace the former ‘Green Bridge’, which was constructed in the 1970s but had fallen into disrepair.

The new steel footbridge is now officially open to anglers and the public.

Funded through the National Strategy for Angling Development, the custom-designed footbridge will provide safe access to both banks of the Owenea fishery between Beats 4 and 5, near Glenties.

The Owenea fishery, which is directly managed by IFI, remains one of the most productive salmon rivers in Co Donegal.

The fishery has a good run of salmon and sea trout as well as a resident stock of small brown trout and is popular with local anglers as well as visiting sport fishers travelling from abroad.

Milton Matthews, director of the North-Western River Basin District with IFI, announced the opening of the bridge, saying: “The Owenea fishery in Donegal is a popular destination for both local and visitor salmon anglers to the area.

“Installation of this new bridge is the culmination of over four years of work in terms of completion of the various safety, engineering and associated environmental reports and planning permission requirements needed.

“Inland Fisheries Ireland would like to acknowledge the contribution and support of various local landowners, contractors, Donegal County Council, local angling clubs and dommunity development groups, who have all contributed to and welcomed the successful delivery of this project.”

IFI has an ongoing programme of maintenance and upgrading of angling access along the Owenea River, including the improvement of angling infrastructure such as stiles, footbridges and walkways.

Constructed in the 1970s, the Green Bridge was used extensively over the years by anglers, recreational walkers and local residents.

However, following safety audits conducted by IFI, consultant engineers were commissioned in 2021 to conduct a full examination of the structural integrity and suitability of the structure as a pedestrian footbridge. The report confirmed that the steelwork of the existing bridge was severely corroded and no longer fit for purpose.

Although IFI didn’t own or manage the Green Bridge, the State agency responsible for the conservation and protection of freshwater fish and habitats — and the development and promotion of angling — undertook responsibility for its removal and installation of a replacement galvanised footbridge to ensure safe access to both banks of the Owenea River for the angling community.

Before the old footbridge could be removed however, IFI had to commission several reports and surveys, including Appropriate Assessment Screening, a freshwater pearl mussel survey and Natura Impact Statement (NIS). Planning permission was then sought through Donegal County Council for removal and replacement of the old bridge.

Following a public procurement process, Source Civil Ltd was appointed as the contractor to remove the original Green Bridge and to prefabricate and install a new custom-designed footbridge from W.D. Buchanan & Co Ltd. This necessitated a temporary road closure and traffic diversion whilst the Green Bridge was removed and the new bridge was lifted into place by Quinn Crane Hire.  

Matthews added: “Completion of this new footbridge is a vital element in the overall management and development of the Owenea salmon fishery and a welcome addition for angling access and the local community.”

Published in Angling

Salmon and sea trout anglers who fished during the 2022 season are being reminded to return their logbooks and any unused gill tags at the end of the season.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is encouraging such anglers to return their angling logbooks — setting out their fishing and catch record — and any unused gill tags from 2022 if they have finished fishing for this year or once the season has closed.

Under the Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme, anglers can return these in one of three ways:

  • Using the postage pre-paid business return envelope that was supplied at the time of licence purchase (preferred option).
  • Posting the logbook and unused gill tags to the Inland Fisheries Ireland office address that is displayed on their licence or logbook.
  • Scanning and emailing logbook and licence documents to IFI at [email protected] Important: if you are choosing this option, please scan all sides of documents, including continuation pages, to ensure that the licence names and number can be correctly linked to the logbook.

On average, 70% of anglers in Ireland return their logbooks and these returns provide vital information regarding the status and management of our wild Atlantic Salmon and Sea Trout stocks into the future.

In accordance with the Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme, anglers in Ireland are required by law to return their completed logbook and all unused tags to the issuing office of IFI within seven days of licence expiry, and no later than Wednesday 19 October.

As part of the scheme, an angler must attach a valid gill tag to a salmon (any size) or sea trout (over 40cm) harvested, immediately on landing. They must enter details of their catch and/or gill tag used into their logbook.

Questions or queries should be directed to [email protected] and IFI says it will respond as quickly as possible.

Published in Angling

A research award targeted at early-career researchers has been granted to Dr Joshka Kaufmann of the Marine Institute to investigate and predict how quickly natural Atlantic salmon evolve to human-driven environmental change. The SFI-IRC Pathway programme, a new collaborative initiative between Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Irish Research Council (IRC), has been awarded to Dr Kaufmann to conduct state-of-the-art research at the Marine Institute on the evolutionary potential of natural populations of Atlantic salmon in Ireland and develop an independent track record in this important climate-biodiversity research nexus.

As current rates of planetary stress are leading to unprecedented declines in natural populations, understanding the potential of iconic species such as the Atlantic salmon to adapt to human impacts has become crucial for their preservation and management.

Dr Ciaran Kelly, Director of Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services of the Marine Institute said, “In line with national, European and global priorities on climate and biodiversity, this research will identify vulnerabilities and ultimately offer strategies for optimal conservation; helping to balance sustainable aquaculture with the interactions between natural and aquaculture environments. In addition to strengthening Irish research capabilities, the project will contribute towards evidence-based policy-making at national and international level, providing advice through ICES (International Council for Exploration of the Seas) to NASCO (North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation) and stakeholder groups such as the Atlantic Salmon Trust.”

The Marine Institute Newport research station in the Burrishoole catchment is a proven long-term natural observatory and an index Irish Atlantic salmon population. The systematic monitoring and sampling of salmon in the Burrishoole system (Co. Mayo) since 1958 provides a unique opportunity to link temporal changes in size, demography and genetic makeup of salmon with climate change, overfishing and mixing with cultured fish.

Prof. Philip McGinnity (UCC), Marine Institute Principal Investigator in Fish Population Genetics and lead on the SFI Investigators Award said,“Long-term ecological (and evolutionary) research is crucial to understanding how the world is changing and for informing conservation and protection programmes. Long-term studies with consistent data collection is rare, particularly in Ireland. As anadromous fish bridge freshwater and marine environments, they also provide an invaluable resource to understand the dynamic interconnections between land and sea and the role human actions such as climate change and overfishing.”

Dr Kaufmann of the Marine Institute said, “Building upon recent research successes constructing whole wild population pedigrees in SFI and Beaufort programmes, my plan is, with the support of a PhD student, to use next-generation high-throughput sequencing technologies and climate attribution to evaluate the evolutionary potential of natural populations of Atlantic salmon. Utilising these unique and irreplaceable multi-decadal pedigrees, I will identify how selection on traits changed with time and how this can impact the characteristics of salmon in the next decades.”

This knowledge will help provide advice for conservation and management of this iconic species under future climate scenarios and help reconcile the competing goals of aquaculture, fisheries and conservation. Dr Kaufmann will be hosted by the Marine Institute, Ireland's national agency for marine research and development, and work closely with other national and international research funders to promote the value of Ireland's unique marine resource.

This project is one of 53 research projects funded by the SFI-IRC Pathway programme to support early career research across all disciplines and to encourage interdisciplinary approaches.

Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

The deadline to enter the third online lottery for ‘brown tags’ for wild salmon angling on the Lower River Lee is 5pm on Thursday 9 June.

A further 38 brown tags will be issued on Monday 13 June by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), following the second lottery for 38 tags on 11 April, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Under brown tag regulations, an angler who wishes to ‘harvest’ a wild salmon and keep it must attach a brown tag as well as a standard blue tag to the fish.

To help conserve stocks of wild salmon within the Lower River Lee, No 5 or Cork District, a total of 152 brown tags are available for the season and have been distributed to anglers with a 2022 rod licence through a series of online lotteries since January.

Anglers interested in entering the third draw are being asked to apply online between now and 5pm on Thursday 9 June. Only one entry is permitted per licence holder into the draw. Entries will not be accepted by email in this draw.

Anglers with a 2022 rod licence who are not allocated a brown tag are only permitted to fish for salmon on a ‘catch and release’ basis on the Lower River Lee, where the salmon is returned safely to the same waterbody.

In addition, anglers who received a tag in either of the previous draws may enter this draw only if they have used that tag. Anglers must be able to provide evidence of using the tag by supplying a photo of the double tagged salmon and the relevant entry in their angler’s logbook.

Further details and conditions are available from the IFI website, by phoning its Macroom office on (026) 41221 or emailing [email protected]

Published in Angling
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