Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Questions (392)

Martin Ferris

Question:

392. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the reason restrictions on salmon and trout fishing remain in force on the River Bride when they have been lifted on other tributaries of the River Blackwater. [30602/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Ireland manages salmon stocks generally on an individual river basis due to the fact that each river contains a genetically unique stock, which migrates to sea as juveniles and returns to the same river in adulthood to spawn. The conservation imperative means that exploitation of salmon of each river is only permitted where the independent Standing Scientific Committee (SSC) for Salmon determine that the stock in that river is above the Conservation Limit (CL).

I can also inform the Deputy that the genetic data for the Bride indicates that the salmon population is similar to, but not identical to, the Blackwater. The Bride is a substantial river catchment with an average declared rod catch over the 2002-2006 period of 79 salmon. Therefore the SSC assess the Bride as a fishery in its own right and advice is provided on that basis. On the contrary the other tributaries (the Glenshelane and Finnisk) are small catchments with an average of zero and one salmon recorded respectively in the rod catch over the 2002-2006 period. This fact and the fact that genetic analysis indicates no evidence that the salmon populations in these tributaries and the salmon populations in the main Blackwater are different from a biodiversity perspective means they do not warrant separate management.

The Bride was open for angling over the 2003-2006 period and the reported catch is set out in the table following. Rod catches were low and the estimated salmon run was below the then Bride CL of 1,379 salmon and consequently the river was closed for angling from 2007 onwards.

Further analysis was carried out by Inland Fisheries Ireland through the use of catchment wide electro-fishing in the Bride in 2008 and 2010 to determine juvenile salmon fry abundance. This gave an average of 17.55 salmon fry over both years, indicating good salmon spawning activity. These results enabled the SSC to recommend that the river re-open for catch and release angling in 2011 and 2012 and thereby generate additional rod catch information on the likely salmon run. Low rod catches were recorded in 2011 and 2012.

The SSC reviewed data relating to all salmon rivers in 2012 and a new salmon CL of 1,570 salmon was set for the Bride for 2013. I am advised that the Bride is currently meeting just 59% of its CL and that rivers should open for catch and release angling only when they attain 65% of CL in order to provide an index of the size of the salmon stock. The fishery would need to be achieving greater than 100% of its CL in order for it to generate a surplus an enable it to open as a harvestable fishery on a sustainable basis.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

River Bride

Salmon catch harvest

Salmon caught & released

2003

83

21

2004

58

4

2005

62

0

2006

62

27

2007

Closed

2008

Closed

2009

Closed

2010

Closed

2011

Open catch & release

40

2012

Open catch & release

6