Written Answers. - Inland Waterways.

Jim Higgins


40 Mr. Higgins (Mayo) asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources if he has received correspondence from Carra-Mask Angling Federation regarding the urgent need to protect and develop the Lough Mask catchment area; if an estimate has been carried out regarding the amount of funding needed to carry out a development plan under the aegis of the national development plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15621/01]

I have been paying particular attention to the work of the Carra-Mask-Corrib Water Protection Group and recently I was pleased to speak at the formal launch of the group. This is a voluntary group established by three angling fed erations in the Corrib catchment including the Carra Mask Angling Federation. One of the aims of the group is to raise awareness regarding pollution problems in our inland waters and I am fully supportive of this aim.

In pursuance of their statutory remits in relation to the conservation of fisheries, the Central Fisheries Board and the Western Regional Fisheries Board have carried out water quality surveys on the three lakes. The Central Fisheries Board informs me that these surveys show an overall improvement in Lower Corrib and a slight deterioration in the open water of Upper Corrib, Mask and Carra. In the context of the Corrib plan, financed through the Tourism Angling Measure, the Western Regional Fisheries Board has reviewed the water quality data from 1997 to 2000 in the Corrib catchment. Some localised adverse impacts have been recorded in several rivers within the catchment due to domestic sewage, afforestation and agriculture. There are some specific locations in the lakes where quality is affected adjacent to inflowing rivers. However, there is no evidence of a significant worsening trend overall between 1997 and 2000.

The western board estimates that the cost of the development of the catchments of Loughs Carra and Mask to maximise the trout production capacity would be in the region of £3 million to £4 million.