The National Strategy for Angling Development (NSAD) is the first comprehensive National framework for the development of our angling resources. Within an overarching conservation ethos and focus, the National Strategy sets out three strategic objectives for angling:
- To make angling accessible and attractive through information, infrastructure and support;
- To develop tourism through the promotion of our angling resource;
- To recognise angling as a key leisure and recreation pursuit.
To date, my Department has provided €2 million directly for capital projects under NSAD and a further €537,000 has been provided under the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development. The Salmon Conservation Fund and Midland Fisheries Fund, both sustainably funded from licence and permit income, are managed in parallel with the NSAD. For clarification, the total funding available to Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) to date is €3.437 million across all aspects of fisheries development, which are to be delivered under the umbrella of NSAD.
Projects with an investment of €1.654 million have been completed to date, representing some 48% of the available funding. Of this, €1.275 million has already been drawn down and a further €400,000 is due for drawdown shortly.
Drawdown of funds under NSAD, as with other grant-aided programmes involving public funds, is subject to all governance, environmental and other project requirements. As with all publically funded grant aid, funding is made available for drawdown by project promoters after the project is delivered and when all of the governance requirements have been met, therefore the issue of “handing back” funding does not arise. I am advised by IFI that approximately €136,000 will shortly be available for redistribution under a further round of project calls. This represents less than 4% of the available funding.
My Department has separately funded project officers for IFI to promote capacity building and a collaborative approach within the sector and to address shortfalls in expertise within voluntary organisations delivering projects. The officers engage with these groups to progress projects through governance and into delivery phase.
To date, all calls for projects under the NSAD €2 million capital works element have been oversubscribed and for 2019 IFI are concentrating on delivery of existing approved projects before additional project calls can be considered. I have commended IFI on the success of its delivery of NSAD and other investment schemes so far and would point to the following milestones, which demonstrate significant progress:
- Funding has been allocated to 174 fisheries development and management projects nationwide;
- 48% of the NSAD projects have been completed to date;
- Angling access has been upgraded in 78 locations with a further 22 due for completion in 2019;
- Over 20 Information and Education initiatives supported, introducing approximately 1000 people to angling and informing visiting anglers. This provided equipment to the value of €60,000 to angling events, signage, marketing and promotion;
- Riparian enhancement, conservation and regeneration work completed on river channels;
- Anti-poaching equipment purchased and installed;
- 10 organised angling events funded to encourage positive social inclusion in communities;
- Over 5,000 hours of engagement and communication from IFI local staff and Projects Office to provide mutual support, information, assistance and advice; and
- In respect of 2019, an additional €393,000 has been allocated to IFI to fund initiatives to promote increased participation in angling by young people and novice anglers