Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Questions (375)

Dara Calleary


375. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding fishing rights on the Owenmore River, Bangor, County Mayo; the timeframe for the reopening of the river to licence holders; his plans for a compensation scheme for affected licence holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4856/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Ireland’s salmon rivers are managed on an individual basis by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) as each salmon river has a genetically unique stock. Management is based on the advice of the Independent Standing Scientific Committee (SSC) for Salmon. Available surpluses (if any) in each river are calculated annually for each individual river based on the scientific analysis and managerial advice.

The SSC has advised that stock of salmon in the Owenmore river, Bangor fishery district has failed to reach its conservation limit in the last two years of the normal five year average calculation used in all such assessments. For this reason and in line with the conservation imperative, activity resulting in salmon mortality, regardless of method, is not permitted in this river or the common embayment during the 2014 season. Angling, however is permitted on a catch-and-release basis only in the waters of the Owenmore river. This reflects the relative status of the stocks of this river.

I am advised by IFI that they will continue to monitor the stocks annually. IFI will also continue to develop the management strategy for the relevant rivers with a view to identifying the extent of any recovery arising from the cessation of the harvesting of salmon and any stock rehabilitation works undertaken.

The Salmon Hardship Scheme was introduced by the State following a decision to cease the commercial mixed stock salmon fishery in the sea. This scheme was targeted at commercial salmon fishermen who were active in the fishery at the time and funding was provided to fishermen for them to leave the fishery and diversify into some new activity. The scheme closed for applications on 31st December 2007. In the current financial circumstances there is no prospect of revisiting such a scheme. I have asked senior management at IFI to meet with the local fisherman as soon as possible.