Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 22 October 2014
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications
Depletion of Inland Fish Stocks and Impact of Estuary Poaching: Inland Fisheries Ireland
I welcome our guests and I commend IFI on the work it is doing. As Dr. Byrne stated, the industry is responsible for providing a huge number of jobs and ensuring the survival of rural communities.
I regularly meet those who are concerned about fish stocks. I refer to those who fish in the various competitions that are held, particularly the members of the Araglen Anglers Association in my locality who fish on the tributaries of the River Blackwater. The latter continually inform me that this fisheries are an underdeveloped asset. In the past there would have been anecdotal evidence in respect of poaching, etc., taking place at this time of year in particular. However, such activity has, in the main, been consigned to history because the vast majority of people are concerned about conservation. Previous generations would have stated that a flood would have to arrive in order for the salmon to come upriver. I was discussing this matter with my father in recent days and he asked whether salmon come up rivers at all now in light of the way stocks have been affected.
The first thing I want to do is challenge our guests with regard to the underdevelopment of what is an outstanding natural resource.
While today’s proceedings concern tackling poaching at estuaries and stock depletion in inland waterways, more work is needed in developing recreational and commercial fishing. As the delegation stated, it affects predominantly rural areas and there are many fine rivers with good stock levels.
Are salmon levels returning in smaller inland rivers and tributaries to the major rivers such as the Blackwater? Does more work need to be done on stock preservation in our inland waterways? Is Inland Fisheries Ireland constrained by limited financial resources in continuing its work?