Fishing Report 14 June 2010

Upper Mourne With the rise in the water, anglers have started to fish the Upper Mourne.  Saturday, 11 June saw four salmon caught on the fly: local and experienced anglers C Gillespie (8, 4) in the Snaa and J Hutton (3, 2) in Doaks; two other fish were reported lost.  On Sunday, 12 June a 6lb salmon was caught on the Half Water by J Irvine.  The prospects for the forthcoming week look good.

Fishing Report 10 June 2010

Mourne Nothing much has changed over the past fortnight. Lifford Bridge remains the best chance of sport and to a lesser extent below the weir at Sion Mills. A few grilse continue to be caught daily in both locations, some as small as a pound and a half. On Monday and Tuesday this week we had some moderate rainfall which put about two to three inches in the Mourne, a small frenzy of activity on the back of this small rise brought a few extra fish off the tide. With the weather outlook in the short term looking set fair and dry there is little chance of improvement in the coming week. Reports from the Foyle indicate a reasonable head of fish building up but also a sharp rise in illegal poaching.

Derg No fish yet.

Mark Gough @ NM Tackle Sion Mills.

Thought for June My biggest worry is that when I die my wife will sell my tackle for the price I said I’d paid for it!

Spelling It Out: A definitive paper on FASTA’s position on the Foyle salmon crisis

Here is a definitive statement on FASTA’s stance on the handling of the continuing crisis on the Foyle system due to plunging wild salmon numbers. Frank Curran, the Chairman for the Foyle Association of Salmon and Trout Anglers (FASTA), has prepared the following policy document for submission to the June meeting of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization being held in Canada where FASTA’s views will be fully represented.

Another Crisis 

This is not the first time that the Foyle system has been in crisis. It has happened before and it will happen again and again and again, because the same or similar components are still in play. Quite simply, the political mismanagement of fisheries has triumphed again. There has been no natural disaster, no massive environmental calamity, no fish flu, no chemical spillage. In short, the Foyle system has been decimated by those charged with its protection, beginning with the Chief Executive and those with theoretical oversight of his actions: the two ministers, one in Dublin and the other in Belfast, and the Board of the Loughs Agency. The Board is appointed by both Ministers and they are representatives from most of the political parties. The stakeholders, from netsmen, to shell fish men to anglers are not represented on the Board: they must make do with a forum, a glorified talking shop. The system is totally controlled by politicians. It is probably similar to other areas in Ireland and Europe with the possible exception of Scotland.

Throughout the island of Ireland, you will neither hear a dissenting voice from a “fishery expert” nor from a Chief Executive as they are employees of the respective governments. Simply put, if you play ball, the further you go onward and upward. Some might say that it is not a very satisfactory position. Others might say that it bodes badly for a fishery, especially if it is in trouble.

The Evidence

Ireland is an island. It has parliamentary representatives from coastal areas. These reps are members of the main political parties and the vote must be delivered. So in reality they become pimps for the coastal vote which involves fishermen and their families. Their failure to lead was quite evident in the run-up to the compulsory buy-out of the drift nets of our shores. It was not the drift netsmen who decimated the salmon stocks around Ireland and beyond. It was the political managers who were quite prepared to allow the decimation to continue until the EU threatened Ireland with massive fines if they did not stop the slaughter. Yes, anglers played their part as did Mr Orri Vigfusson, who led by example in setting up the set-aside schemes of Greenland. It is of course an indictment of those countries, including Ireland, that have not made a contribution to his funds but have enjoyed the benefits of his selfless work in this area.

The Foyle

On this once great system we had the incredible situation whereby as the drift nets were being bought out, the Chief Executive issued invitations for the take-up of 37 new licences! There has, as yet, been no rational explanation for this extraordinary action which flew in the face of the reality of the decline in fish numbers. Moreover, who had oversight of this mindless action? In the event, only 18 hapless people took up the invitation. They now face being forced off the river given the grave situation facing the Finn and its tributaries and the decline in other sections of the system. Warning after warning was raised about the conservation limits being too low in the event of any untoward event arising elsewhere on the salmon passage, but these warnings were ignored by the Agency. Now the drift netsmen on the river will not be allowed to fish for at least 5 years without compensation. The original package was in place for too short a period to allow ordinary men, who were working a subsistence fishery, to make a considered response. So now we have a bitter and resentful netting constituency, an angling community that will have restrictions placed on their hobby, and clubs and private fisheries that will lose valuable income from the local and visiting anglers for what could be a considerable period. Of greater significance is the loss of a wonderful resource which has survived pollution, land drainage and intensive farming as well as afforestation only to be mismanaged to the point of destruction by the incompetence of those whose duty it was to manage and protect it.

The Sea Trout

As well as the demise of the salmon, we have now to recognise the collapse of the sea trout on the system. Some might be interested to know that the stocks collapsed in circa 1994. To date nothing, yes nothing! has been done to address this situation. Yes, a committee has been formed but, true to form, there are no stakeholders involved. This is 2010. In sixteen years nothing has been done. Of course, stocking has been ruled out, even though DNA of sea trout in the system is known.

Foyle Anglers’ Response

Various angling organisations on the Foyle and nationally offered to pay compensation to the netsmen to give up netting. The only request made was that both governments would put up the money and the anglers would repay the amount with an annual levy on the licence fee. So here was a situation where the anglers were prepared to pay a reasonable amount to ensure that the netsmen would, on a voluntary basis, give up their right to fish on a permanent basis in return for a fair monetary sum. On one side there were willing buyers and on the other willing sellers. This offer was rejected by the Chief Executive of the Agency on the basis that the management strategy in place was adequate. Now that the netsmen are going to be forced off the system how would they feel about this strategy now? FASTA would have expected some leadership from Minister Lenihan on this matter but to date this expectation has not been realised. The Chief Executive has made it clear recently that should the salmon return he fully intends to restore netting on the system. It would appear that he and those who have oversight of his actions are happy to have in place in the future a mixed stock fishery when many millions of taxpayers’ money had been expended to partially secure the ending of such a fishery. It is of cold comfort to the stakeholders that given the present management structure and management strategy that the chances of such a recovery are sadly a long way down the road.

FASTA Recommendations

  • There has to be a new radical approach to fishery management
  • The political element in fishery management must be reviewed and drastically reduced
  • The stakeholders must be represented in the decision making process
  • All models of international fishery management should be studied and best practice adopted
  • The philosophy of abundance should be the cornerstone or fishery management going forward.

 

Signed:

F. J. Curran

FASTA

(The Foyle Association of Salmon & Trout Anglers)

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