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It is estimated that 240,000 Atlantic salmon returned to Irish shores last year, according to Inland Fisheries Ireland. The enduring Atlantic salmon populations in Irish waters were being highlighted at the launch of the International Year of the Salmon (IYS), which takes place in 2019. Sean Canney TD, Minister with responsibility for the inland fisheries sector, marked the launch by unveiling one of a new fleet of 12 RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boats) to highlight the importance of fisheries protection especially during migration along the coasts.

Atlantic salmon populations are widely distributed throughout Irish freshwaters with over 140 such systems designated as salmon rivers. While 240,000 Atlantic salmon returned to Ireland from the sea as part of the natural migration last year, representing the healthy condition of Irish river stocks, the numbers returning to Irish shores has decreased by over 70 per cent in recent decades. In the 1970s, the number of Atlantic salmon returning peaked at 1,800,000. 

Minister Canney said: “It is vital that we protect our valuable fisheries resource as environmental change and human impacts are placing salmon and other species at risk. The International Year of the Salmon is a global initiative which aims to bring people together to share knowledge, raise awareness and take action on how we can ensure the resilience of salmon in Ireland and in the Northern Hemisphere. Ireland is recognised as an international exemplar in terms of placing the conservation imperative at the very heart of our salmon management and I am committed to leading our participation in this initiative on behalf of the Government, the Department and Inland fisheries Ireland”, he added 

The continuing declining trend in many wild salmon stocks both nationally and internationally in recent decades has been attributed to many different factors such as climate change, alterations to physical habitats, water quality issues, predation, over-fishing and increased mortality due to sea lice.

International Year of the Salmon is a joint world-wide initiative of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) and the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC) alongside other partners across the globe, creating an international framework for collaborative outreach and research. It is hoped that IYS will raise awareness of what humans can do to ensure salmon and their habitats are conserved and restored against a backdrop of several environmental factors. 

Dr Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “I am delighted that we are adding to our protection fleet today, particularly in light of the challenges facing salmon stocks across the Northern hemisphere. In Ireland, salmon are part of our national identity, holding a special place in our culture and heritage. In fact, salmon populations have sustained many rural communities over many decades. The extraordinary life cycles of salmon however exposes them to many environmental and human caused factors which influence their health and populations.

Fisheries managers and scientists have been concerned for a number of years about the declining numbers of salmon returning to the Irish coast. International Year of the Salmon offers us an opportunity to start an important conversation around how we can protect, conserve and restore salmon populations in Irish and international waters and more importantly, how we can inspire action. Inland Fisheries Ireland looks forward to continuing this conversation over 2019 and beyond.” 

Minister Canney emphasised that since 1996, a progressive series of conservation initiatives have been introduced in Ireland to try to address the decline in salmon stocks. Inland Fisheries Ireland implements the Wild Salmon Conservation Scheme, managing rivers on an individual basis, rather than a national or district basis with only rivers with an identifiable surplus over the conservation limit open for the harvest of salmon and sea trout. In addition, the Salmon Conservation Fund, which is generated from the sale of salmon angling and commercial fishing licences, reinvests in projects which promote the recovery of salmon stocks and habitats. 

During International Year of the Salmon, Inland Fisheries Ireland will introduce a commemorative salmon licence which will include updated information for anglers on catch & release angling. Carcass tags will also be rebranded to read: ‘Do you need me? Think twice before killing.’ 

The new fisheries protection RIB, officially introduced to the protection fleet in Greystones, Co. Wicklow to mark the start of International Year of the Salmon, will serve the east coast and larger inland lakes in the Eastern River Basin District. It comes after the launch of other RIBs around the country in recent months. Inland Fisheries Ireland is replacing its sea going RIB fleet with 12 new DELTA 780HX Maritime Protection RIBs built by Delta in Manchester. This will ensure proper protection of salmon in the coastal waters of Ireland out to the 12 mile limit.

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#Angling - The Designated Salmonid Waters Bye-law was yesterday (Thursday 25 October) signed by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton.

The overall intention behind the bye-law is to afford additional protection to wild brown trout in seven distinctive State–owned waters where established stock control measures are already in place as a matter of existing policy.

The seven waters are Lough Sheelin in the Limerick Fishery District; Loughs Conn and Cullin the Ballina Fishery District; Loughs Corrib, Mask and Carra in the Galway Fishery District; and Lough Arrow in the Sligo Fishery District.

Sean Canney, who is succeeding Sean Kyne as Minister of State with responsibility for the inland fisheries sector, welcomed the bye-law as an important initiative for brown trout fisheries particularly in the West of Ireland.

“My predecessor Seán Kyne gave notice of his proposals to make the bye-law and also instigated a public consultation during which observations and views expressed across the full range of stakeholders,” said Minister Canney.

“I am happy as incoming minister to support Minister Kyne’s long-standing initiative and his hard work over all of 2018 in bringing the bye-law to fruition.”

Minister Kyne said: “As minister with responsibility for inland fisheries, I had carefully considered the submissions made in the public consultation.

“The bye-law relates to seven limestone lakes which are quite unique in terms of topography and trout habitat and have long been managed as wild brown trout fisheries via established stock management programmes. From that perspective, I considered that these waters are especially important.

“The bye-law was just about complete when I was taking on my new role and I am grateful for the support of Ministers Bruton and Canney for bringing it over the line,” he added.

The bye-law gives statutory status to the policy designation of this small number of distinctive waters and means that the waters concerned will continue to be managed primarily as brown trout waters.

Minister Kyne had indicated his view that the importance of these waters should be reflected by way of statutory designation and commenced that process in the department.

The bye-law also includes the prohibition on the introduction of fish to the designated waters which is consistent with the overall policy thrust of Inland Fisheries Ireland to manage these waters primarily as brown trout waters.

The advantages of this measure include addressing biosecurity and genetic concerns, control and management of the potential transfer of pathogens, and safeguarding against the introduction of alien invasive fish species.

The announcement came as Bord Iascaigh Mhara is hosting a two-day conference on the scientific developments within the salmon farming industry in Galway’s Maldron Hotel on 25-26 of October.

Outlining the purpose of the event, BIM’s Geoffrey Robinson said: “With increasing global demand for fish, aquaculture is now the fastest-growing animal food production sector in the world. Consequently, fish farming operations are rapidly evolving with new technologies and equipment constantly being developed.

“Part of BIM’s work is to help fish farmers to keep their operations at the cutting edge of technology and an event like this allows us to showcase the latest innovations to Irish operators. There will be a number of interesting developments discussed not least the growing use of cleaner fish and desalination systems.”

Twenty-five separate presentations from national and international experts will cover the latest research and technological developments within the sector on issues such as fish health and welfare, structural and service equipment as well as organic certification.

“While production volumes in Ireland are small by international standards, we have a reputation for excellence in organic salmon production and it is important that our operations maintain this high standard. Incorporating leading edge technologies can improve our production efficiencies and strengthen our sustainable practices,” Mr Robinson added.

In 2017 Irish salmon production increased 15.6% to 19,305 tonnes, with a value of €141.2 million. The industry employs 210 people, primarily in production sites along the west coast of Ireland. Irish salmon is exported to diverse markets across the EU, North America and the Near and Far East.

Published in Angling

On Tuesday 25th September 2018, Conor Harlowe with an address at 12 Shantalla Place, Rahoon Road, Galway was convicted at Tuam District Court for refusing to give his name and address contrary to Section 301 (7) of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959 and failing to produce a licence on demand contrary to Section 303 (2) of the same Act. 

Mr Harlowe did not appear in court and was convicted in his absence. The court heard that he was approached by Fisheries Officer Paul Reynolds on the evening of 24th July, 2017 as he was leaving the Clare River at Cahernahoon, County Galway. Officer Reynolds outlined to the court that Mr Harlowe failed to produce a valid salmon licence when requested, and subsequently refused to provide his name and address. Mr Harlowe then left the area in his vehicle, and was subsequently stopped by Gardaí near Galway city.

Judge James Faughnan commented on how serious a matter it was to refuse to give name and address to Fisheries Officers when it was lawfully demanded. Judge Faughnan convicted Mr Harlowe on both counts, and imposed a fine of €1,000 for refusing to give his name and address, along with a fine of €750 for failing to produce a salmon licence on demand.

He further noted that Mr Harlowe had used a vehicle in the commission of an offence and subsequently disqualified him from driving for a period of one year under Section 27 of the Road Traffic Act 1961. Costs of €600 were also awarded.

Dr Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “Salmon and sea trout angling in Ireland are worth €210 million to the Irish economy and support 3,200 jobs, often in rural communities. The Clare River is the main tributary of Lough Corrib and is one of the most important salmon fishing rivers in the west of Ireland.

There are a number of angling clubs and hundreds of local members, providing fishing from upstream of Milltown right down to Lough Corrib. The main channel Clare River provides salmon fishing from March to September and attracts many visitors and tourists especially in the summer months. This conviction reflects the importance of conserving Ireland’s precious fisheries resource and of the value of angling to the Irish economy.”

Members of the public can report instances of illegal fishing, water pollution of invasive species by calling Inland Fisheries Ireland’s confidential hotline number on 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24.

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#Angling - Salmon and sea trout anglers are reminded of the importance of returning their 2018 angling logbook and unused gill tags to Inland Fisheries Ireland.

These returns provide vital information and facilitate informed decision-making on Ireland’s wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout stocks, according to the fisheries body.

Anglers are asked to return their logbook as part of the Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme, which regulates salmon and sea trout fishing in Ireland and is administered by Inland Fisheries Ireland.

In accordance with this scheme, anglers are required by law to return their completed logbook and all unused tags to the issuing office once they have finished fishing for the season, or as soon as the season is over at the end of September and no later than the 19 October annually.

Anglers are reminded that they can only retain a maximum of one salmon per day in a fishery with a surplus, provided they still have remaining tags in the month of September.

The return of logbooks and tags can be done via the business return envelope which was supplied at the time of license purchase. In the absence of such an envelope, anglers can return their completed logbook and unused tags to the IFI office addressed on their licence/logbook.

The records from this year’s angler returns will support management decisions in 2019.

As part of the scheme, an angler must attach a valid gill tag to a salmon (any size) or sea trout (over 40cm) immediately on landing. They then must enter the details of the catch and gill tag used into their logbook. If the fish is to be released, anglers must also make a catch record in their logbook.

IFI chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne said: “As the end of season approaches, we are reminding salmon and sea trout anglers to return their logbooks and unused tags as soon as possible.

“The vast majority of anglers appreciate the importance of their data in terms of the conservation of our precious fisheries resource.”

For more information on the Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme and IFI, visit www.fisheriesireland.ie. Any queries in relation to the scheme can be sent to [email protected]

Published in Angling

#Angling - Inland Fisheries Ireland advises anglers that, where conditions are suitable locally, catch-and-release angling for salmon may be resumed after the lifting of an appeal for a voluntary halt.

The fisheries body thanks all anglers for their assistance since the appeal made after July’s high water temperatures and drought conditions, which called for a cessation of fishing in catch-and-release rivers or where bag limits had been reached on open rivers.

While there are still low water levels in many parts of the country, water temperatures have now returned to within normal limits.

Published in Angling

#Angling - Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is appealing to anglers and fishery managers to voluntarily cease salmon angling on catch-and-release rivers with immediate effect due to high water temperatures and the current drought conditions.

The agency also advises that for conservation purposes on open rivers, anglers should cease angling once their daily bag limit is reached.

With regard to keep nets on coarse fisheries, IFI advises that this practise should be suspended at this time.

IFI says it will monitor the situation and issue updates as appropriate. Should the current weather conditions continue, the agency may consider the introduction of emergency conservation legislation.

Published in Angling

#Fishing - Sean Kyne TD, Minister with responsibility for the inland fisheries sector, today (Thursday 21 June) welcomed the positive outcome from the international discussions at the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) annual meeting in Portland, Maine, USA.

“Our departmental officials and those of Inland Fisheries Ireland represented Ireland at the negotiations as part of the EU delegation,” Minister Kyne said. “They joined delegates from the EU, USA, Canada, Norway, the Russian Federation, Greenland and the Faroes.

“The outcome of the week-long discussions is that, for the period 2019-2022, no harvest fishery will take place off the Faroe Islands and the restrictions on the fishery off West Greenland have been strengthened.

“I am pleased that these two important regulatory measures were agreed in a spirit of international c-ooperation.”

Minister Kyne emphasised the importance of these measures for Irish salmon migrating to distant feeding grounds before returning to their natal rivers in adulthood to spawn.

“The migratory stock complex travelling through Faroese waters comprises a majority component of European river stocks, including those from Ireland, and the measure to have no commercial fishing in these waters is important for these vulnerable stocks,” he said.

“I am particularly pleased that the discussions on the Faroes area were chaired by Ireland, on behalf of the EU.”

The majority component of the stock complex migrating to Greenlandic waters originates from the North American continent, and the restriction on fishing in this area assists these stocks as well as the smaller European component.

The agreed level of potential catch, for the internal use fishery in Greenland, is reduced by some 33% over the quota set in each of the last three years. Agreement was also reached on increased monitoring and control of the fishery.

The NASCO meeting also considered the factors that affect the marine survival of Atlantic salmon, with scientists, including those from IFI, engaged in cutting edge work to identify and address those causes.

Determining why salmon are dying at sea before they can come back to their natal rivers to spawn is a key research priority.

A new innovative approach to oceanic long range acoustic monitoring, ‘ROAM’ (RAFOS Ocean Acoustic Monitoring), will allow salmon to be tracked through the marine environment. The approach is intended to overcome many of the significant challenges associated with tracking Atlantic salmon throughout their extensive marine migration.

Minister Kyne concluded that the measures taken in Ireland, over a decade ago, to protect migratory salmon stocks have pointed the way internationally and the latest agreements at NASCO demonstrate restraints on exploiting Irish and other stocks as they migrate outside our waters.

Published in Fishing

#Angling - Inland Fisheries Ireland has published its 2017 fish stock survey for the Owenriff catchment as well as its rehabilitation plan for the system to promote the recovery of brown trout and salmon in its lakes and rivers.

The Fish Stock Survey — which was conducted in the summer of 2017 and forms the basis for the Rehabilitation Plan — deduces that the introduction of pike into the catchment has been the significant factor in the declining fish stocks.

“As there are little or no major anthropogenic pressures in the catchment to cause the decline in fish stocks, it is reasonable to infer that the introduction of pike and their subsequent range expansion in the Owenriff catchment (with impacts of competition for food and space and predation on resident and migratory fish) is the main factor causing the decline of brown trout and salmon in the Owenriff catchment. Research from Europe and North America supports this finding,” the reports states.

Anthropogenic pressures include human-induced factors such as urban growth, deleterious discharges, farming activities and introduction of alien species.

Although pike were captured for the first time by IFI staff in 2009 in two lakes in the catchment (Loughs Bofin and Agraffard) and efforts were made by IFI staff to remove the pike from the system, they did not show up in two catchment-wide surveys in 1997 and 2007 and were only officially recorded in a survey for the first time in 2015.

However, the latest report, from the 2017 survey, confirms that pike are present all over the Owenriff catchment “in areas where they can freely gain access and in some areas where they cannot naturally gain access.”

Welcoming the publication of the two reports, Minister Sean Kyne TD said: “We have acted swiftly since the interim results of this survey became known. In late January, I announced that Inland Fisheries Ireland is to commence fish stock management operations on the Owenriff catchment to protect and restore trout stocks which have been impacted by recent introductions of pike to the catchment.

“The consequences of not taking wider remedial action on the basis of these survey results would lead to further decline in ecological biodiversity in the catchment, so I very much welcome the publication by IFI of the Owenriff Fish Population Rehabilitation Plan 2018.”

The minister continued: “The purpose of the plan is to develop a fisheries rehabilitation project that can be undertaken on the catchment to promote the recovery of the brown trout (both resident and migratory Corrib) and salmon populations in both lakes and rivers. It will take time and will be costly, but we are already underway with this very constructive and positive roadmap.”

With stock management actions having already commenced, the success of the broader rehabilitation project will depend on applying the correct tools to rehabilitate the brown trout and salmon populations in the Owenriff catchment.

These include fisheries enhancement works in selected sub-catchments to favour brown trout and salmon; genetic restoration; removing the problem (pike control); reducing anthropogenic impacts in the catchment; public awareness (especially in relation to the impacts of the introductions of species not indigenous to an area); interagency co-ordination; climate change mitigation; and any other necessary measures.

The Owenriff catchment is located on the north-western end of the Lough Corrib catchment, and the main Owenriff River drains into Lough Corrib Upper downstream of Oughterard, Co Galway. The Lough Corrib catchment itself is the largest and most important wild salmonid catchment in Ireland, and Lough Corrib is considered the premier wild brown trout fishery in Ireland.

The Owenriff rehabilitation plan and 2017 fish stock survey can both be downloaded from the IFI website. Afloat.ie also has more on IFI's stock management plan for Ireland's trout waters in 2018.

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#Angling - As many as 500 farmed salmon could have entered a number of rivers in Galway and Mayo last autumn, according to a new report from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

The report into the incident in the Western River Basin District also confirms that no reports of escapes in the relevant period were made by local salmon farm owners, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

The reporting of escapes to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) are a condition of aquaculture licences.

IFI’s reports says that “up to 500 escaped farmed salmon may have entered western salmon rivers during the August/September period 2017.”

And it adds “that the presence of sexually mature farmed salmon in rivers poses a potential threat to local wild salmon populations from interbreeding and other ecological effects.”

In October 2017, the board of Inland Fisheries Ireland issued a statement noting that it :continues to have concerns regarding the impacts of fish farms on Ireland’s precious wild fish.

“The licencing regime and best management practice should provide assurance to the State that controls are in place that safeguard our heritage. This does not appear to be the case in this instance.

“Inland Fisheries Ireland supports sustainable fish farming but cautions against the renewal and/or award of licences where conditions are not being adhered to. The board recommends immediate strict enforcement and audit of existing licence conditions to ensure compliance and ultimately a sustainable resource for all.”

Speaking on the publication of the new report, IFI head of R&D Dr Cathal Gallagher said: “While a small number of farmed salmon spawning in a catchment may not have a detectable long-term effect on the wild salmon population, repeated escapes of large numbers of farmed fish have the potential to cause serious damage to vulnerable wild salmon populations.

“The large number of escaped farmed salmon entering into these rivers, with a high proportion of males likely to be sexually mature, presents a potential threat to local wild salmon populations.

“IFI will continue to monitor the situation and may need to conduct longer-term genetic studies on the impact of the presence of these farmed salmon.”

The full report is available to download below.

Published in Angling

#Angling - Inland Fisheries Ireland has confirmed that the first spring salmon of 2018 was caught earlier this week in Co Leitrim.

Well-known local angler Bill Likely landed the 7.5lb salmon on the River Drowes on Tuesday 30 January. The sea-liced fish was taken on a Black and Gold Rapala from the Point of the Meadow Pool shortly before 1pm.

Water levels on the river were high at the time, as they have been at the fishery for the first month of the season, but have been decreasing in recent days.

Sean Kyne, Minister of State with responsibility for the inland fisheries sector, congratulated Likely on this achievement.

“To catch the first salmon of the year is an accolade prized among anglers and marks the return of the fishing season every January,” the minister said. “Using the event to support a worthy cause such as hospice services puts the iconic salmon at the heart of the angling as well as the broader community.”

“Protecting and sustaining our salmon resource as a vector for development and tourism in peripheral rural areas is among my top priorities.”

The first fish, as is traditional, will be prepared for a tasting event to benefit local charities — and on this occasion, the North West Hospice, which ‘provides specialist care with compassion for those living with life-limiting illness in our community’, will be the beneficiary of an event at the Foxes Lair Bar & Restaurant in Bundoran tomorrow Friday 9 February from 8pm.

To mark the catch, fishery owner Shane Gallagher presented the Drowes Perpetual Cup to a delighted Likely, who works on the fishery and is familiar to local anglers, well known for his generosity with advice and local insights.

Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), said: “Official confirmation of the first salmon catch of the year is always a key event. Last year, the first salmon was caught in the Careysville Fishery on the Munster Blackwater in Cork on February 1st.

“IFI staff have confirmed the appearance of spring salmon on a number of Donegal fisheries over recent days. The board of IFI is concerned about the declining abundance of salmon and urges all salmon anglers to practice catch and release angling on all open salmon waters even where there is an available quota.”

Byrne continued: “We have a wonderful fisheries resource in this country that doesn’t just benefit anglers but offers rural communities sustainable tourism and job opportunities outside of the traditional tourist seasons.

“Inland Fisheries Ireland continues to work with these communities to develop our angling infrastructure and improve access, through extensive funding grants and sponsorship, with a view to increasing angling participation and growing local economic growth as a result.”

Anglers looking for fishing information in Ireland in 2018 can visit the Fishing in Ireland website for the latest news and fishing reports.

For those looking to try out fishing for the first time, IFI will run a number of education and outreach initiatives throughout the year with all information posted on fisheriesireland.ie.

IFI is also inviting the public to help protect and conserve the fisheries resource during the year by reporting incidents of illegal fishing, water pollution and invasive species to its confidential hotline at 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24.

Published in Angling
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