(3)Can Anglers and Netsmen Work together to Achieve Salmon Abundance

Can Nets men and Anglers can work together to ensure greater Abundance of Wild Atlantic salmon in Ireland? A good starting point would be to recognise the interdependence of mountain stream, surrounding habitat, rivers, estuaries and oceans.

 There are many things that need to be done to ensure increased abundance of Ireland’s natural salmon run. The ban on indiscriminate drift net fishing for salmon should be seen as only a starting point on a journey to establish great runs of salmon in Ireland and in the longer term sustainable fisheries.

 Anglers have a clearly understood vested interest in protecting and developing their sport and have demonstrated a commitment to protect the fish they desire to catch. There have been some successes and work is underway to improve river management but there is still along way to go before salmon rivers are fully restored. A process of continuous development will be needed, supported by those who have a vested interest in ensuring greater future abundance for Irish salmon.

Subsistence nets men also have a vested interest to see that stocks improve. They need to demonstrate what they can do to protect and enhance future abundance for Wild Atlantic Salmon. Nets men need to demonstrate a desire to be fully involved in developing fisheries by working with anglers to maximise a surplus over many years. Salmon runs can be maximized and the resource truly valued for its economic, socio economic utility for the greater good by looking after the future. Partnering to achieve a greater good is vital for success and sustainability. I am certain there are many traditional nets men who fish sustainably, who like many anglers have a desire to see runs improved in future years.      

Anglers and those netting salmon often don’t seem to have much in common and are reported as being at war over who is to blame for the demise of salmon abundance around Ireland’s coasts, estuaries and rivers. Vitally there are many that could be on the same side, fighting for a common good of increased abundance in rivers, estuaries and oceans. Those who fish responsibly with an abundant future in mind have a desire that there are still plenty of fish around in years to come. With the right action there could well be plenty of salmon for anglers and a sustainable subsistence industry based on sustainably harvesting wild Atlantic salmon. In the short term it is vital that tough plans are put in place and are supported by those who care for the future.  

Ireland’s fishing Industry recognises that commercial activity is necessary to survive. If money is used wisely it adds wealth and quality to our lives. Those who fish traditionally for salmon in a subsistence way, care about the future and would like to see good fishing maintained. Well managed fisheries could provide an abundance that would satisfy anglers whether local or visiting tourists and provide a subsistence economy in fishing whilst supporting angling. Importantly those who really care about salmon would like to see the resource nourished built up and enhanced.

It is straightforward to define how anglers can contribute to ensuring plenty of fish. They should fish with the future in mind, only kill a few fish, and practice voluntary catch and release. We all have a responsibility to protect our natural resources and I am certain that protecting and building a more abundant future is the way forward for anglers and subsistence fishermen. Those fishing purely for financial profit, to a commercial formula would benefit form protecting the future of their resource for the greater good, or go out of business when there are no fish left. No one should have the power to decimate stocks to the detriment of other broader interested groups. It is those of us who value fishing beyond commercial pounds shilling and pence value that have the greatest desire to save the traditional subsistence fishing industry. Those fishing purely for commercial reasons can only exploit the resource until the return on investment is such that their occupation is applied elsewhere. Those who want to build a better future around Wild Atlantic salmon need to get involved to ensure that a great natural resource is restored protected and enhanced. It is what subsistence fishermen are about. The excessively commercial fishermen will eventually do themselves out of business if they over fish without investing in an abundant future. The subsistence fishermen with their sustainable philosophy need to assert a desire to ensure stocks are maintained and improved take action to build up stocks.

Some of the greatest immediate needs and challenges include

The need for salmon on spawning beds. That will require a relevant close season to enable successful natural spawning with as much diversity and abundance as possible.   

The need to eliminate poaching.  Support form both the angling and responsible netting community could assist in the enhancement of stocks. 

The need to eliminate pollution. There is much to be achieved by working in partnership with other organisations that compete for the natural habitat resources on which salmon depend. For example the impacts of coniferous plantations and effects of forestry on habitat.

The need for a conservative exploitation strategy until stocks recover to much more sustainable levels. Certain rivers have already been identified where stocks are below the threshold for sustainability and where no killing of any salmon will be allowed.

The need to reduce the impact of so called “greedy anglers” (Mostly with prawns but also with spinning) who catch the lion’s share of the catch and can diminish the greater good for others.

The need for high standards in reporting of catches via CFB and angling clubs to ensure there are excellent estimates of stock.

The need to enforce logbook and carcass tagging for anglers and identify better ways of managing carcass tagging to increase its accuracy and fairness.

The need for research regarding predators such as seals and cormorants and disappearing smolts. Fishermen, policy makers and scientists need to work together to ensure the optimum best way forward.

The need to assess and reduce the impact of salmon aquaculture and its promotion at the expense of wild stocks including sea lice infestation.

The need to identify and rectify over fishing and by catch. The impacts of industrial fishing on of base food chain species such as sand eels shrimps prawns, which leads to starvation and reduced growth rates

The need for balanced access to exclusive angling clubs to avoid expensive and excessively exclusive fishing.

If anglers and nets men can work together with scientists, policy makers and politicians I hope and pray that we can all benefit from the great natural resource that is our wild free running Atlantic Salmon in Ireland.

The recent ban on indiscriminate drift netting is only the first step to ensure that salmon can be once more abundant in Ireland. I hope we can all contribute to delivering more abundant salmon runs in future years.

Yours sincerely

Brendan Kerr

19 Swanston Gardens


EH10 7DJ

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