New regulations and bye-law governing wild salmon and sea trout fisheries come into effect tomorrow, January 1.
Joe McHugh TD, Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, said that, in all, 83 rivers will be open for angling - 55 fully open and 28 on a catch and release basis.
There will be no increase in the cost of fishing licences this year, Minister McHugh said, to “encourage sales of annual licences and continue to incentivise angling tourists to avail of the Ireland’s first-class angling product.”
When approving the new rules, the minister also highlighted progress made on the Lackagh and Leannan rivers in Donegal.
He said, “The Lackagh remains open to catch and release angling for 2015 but the deficit in the salmon stock has moved significantly closer to the river’s conservation limit which, once surpassed, will facilitate a full opening of the fishery.”
Real progress, he continued, is being made in the joint management plan for the fishery through the partnership of Creeslough Angling Club and Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). “Salmon numbers have improved steadily on the fishery in recent years with the fishery re-opened on a ‘catch and release’ basis for the past two seasons. The key issue is to bring the river above its conservation limit and to build on the good work to date. This will require continued collaboration and maintaining patience for the future good of the fishery – it’s about staying the course,” he added.
The minister recently viewed for himself significant upgrades to facilities along the lower reaches of the river near Creeslough village. The majority of the work was carried out by TUS workers, with materials and additional labour supplied by IFI. The salmon Conservation Fund administered by IFI, has already funded a series of enhancement measures and work in ongoing to secure a major capital project for the fishery next year to install a crump weir and fish counter.
“This is real partnership in the community, with the local club working side by side with the state agency to enhance their river and its fishery” said Minister McHugh. The club deserves great praise for its efforts and its forbearance, as do IFI for their excellent support, while we wait for the recovery in salmon numbers to hopefully continue its upward curve,” he added.
The minister also noted the improved stock status in the River Leannan which has moved from being completely closed in 2014 to being open for catch and release angling for 2015. The improved status will allow anglers to catch fish and thereby provide a useful index of salmon numbers in the river before releasing the fish to bolster spawning.
Minister Mc Hugh said, “This is also good news, in that it is also moving in the right direction. However all concerned anglers and IFI must nurture this new status and continue to contribute towards building on improvements in the salmon numbers. What the Leannan needs now is a sense of restraint and a resolution from all stakeholders to ensure that forward movement is maintained,” he concluded.