Outrage over Slaney salmon ban
The river Slaney is to close for salmon fishing in 2017 to the outrage of local fishermen who believe the move will lead to an increase in salmon mortality rates due to poaching.
The enforcement order came into operation on New Year's Day under the government's fisheries management policy. Sean Kyne T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, said the policy is being implemented to replenish and conserve fish stocks in the river.
It is also prohibited to use, or attempt to use, worms as bait or to use, or attempt to use, any fish hooks, other than single barbless hooks, in angling for any kind of fish in the river Slaney. All other types of angling are permitted on the Slaney except where there may be national prohibitions such as under the Conservation of Eel Fishing Bye-Law. The river Slaney was open to catch and release salmon fishing in 2016 but is one of seven rivers nationally in which salmon fishing is now banned.
Minister Kyne received management advice in relation to over 140 genetically individual wild salmon stocks in Ireland IFI, in advance of setting out the legislation for 2017. This advice was also made available as part of a public consultation process based on the scientific assessment of the current status of all stocks carried out by the independent Standing Scientific Committee on Salmon. This committee comprises scientists from IFI, an Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Marine Institute, the Loughs Agency, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI- Northern Ireland) other State bodies and third level institutions. The status of the Slaney will be reviewed in 2017 for the 2018 season in line with national policy under which all 147 salmon rivers, sections of rivers and estuaries are assessed by the standing Scientific Committee for salmon who provide scientific advice each year to Inland Fisheries Ireland.
Slaney River Trust members said they were prepared to fish on a catch and release basis and have no desire to kill fish. They expressed serious concern that if the river is closed stocks will reduce through poaching. 'Angler presence on the river deters poachers and assists the staff of Inland Fisheries Ireland in protecting stocks,' a Slaney River Trust spokeperson said. The Slaney is a Special Area of Conservation under the Habitats Directive, mainly because of its scarce multi sea winter salmon stock. 'The environmental disaster taking place at Clohamon with large numbers of fish trapped in the tailrace and unable to spawn should be main priority. Poachers are there to kill fish and have no respect for the fishing season or legal angling methods.'
At a recent emergency public meeting of the Slaney River Trust attended by 50 people in Bunclody, 98 per cent of members voted to call for the Minister to meet a delegation drawn from all parts of the river to hear why, for conservation purposes, it is essential that the river remains open in 2017.
The meeting expressed its disbelief that it was proposed to close the river due to low stock levels following the removal of over 200 salmon and 2,000 seatrout from the tailrace of the Clohamon weir at the end of July by electrofishing which were put in above the weir.