Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is the state agency responsible for the protection, management and conservation of Ireland's inland fisheries and sea angling resources. I am advised by IFI that restocking is a complex matter that is carefully considered in the context of the protection of existing wild stocks. In relation to potential restocking of salmon, there are significant genetic and ecological concerns when the progeny of wild salmon reared in a hatchery environment are released back into the wild as each of Ireland’s more than 140 salmon rivers has its own genetically unique stock of salmon. For this reason each salmon stock is managed individually based on the conservation limit established for each river. Ireland’s salmon management measures are considered best in class internationally
Re-stocking with hatchery reared fish can be detrimental to the genetic integrity of individual stocks and negatively impact their long term sustainability. IFI follows the guidelines of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) with regard to applying the precautionary approach to any proposed re-stocking of hatchery reared Atlantic salmon into the wild.
Internationally re-stocking in not considered an appropriate solution in management measures for wild Atlantic salmon. IFI’s advice for enhancement of salmon populations nationally is to continue with single stock salmon management to achieve individual river spawning targets while also supporting habitat enhancement and removal of artificial barriers to migration rather than artificial re-stock enhancements which have potentially detrimental genetic impacts.
National policy is that management measurements for wild brown trout should be generally directed towards conservation, with return of captured fish, and towards habitat-management/enhancement measures designed to increase carrying capacity and restore depleted wild brown trout stocks.
IFI have confirmed that a series of genetic studies on Irish brown trout populations has revealed that there is enormous genetic diversity within and among brown trout populations. Research has shown that stocking with hatchery reared brown trout makes no significant contribution to those fisheries where they have been introduced. In addition, it has been shown that restocking of non-native salmonids can be detrimental to the freshwater pearl mussel, a protected species included in Annex II and V of the EU Habitats Directive.
“IFI has supplied hatchery reared fish to angling clubs around the country. The main species stocked are brown trout and, in respect of put and take fisheries, rainbow trout. Re-stocking requests are considered in the context of EU legislation, biodiversity considerations and best scientific advice.”
For the Deputy’s information I have attached a copy of IFI’s fish stocking guidance document.