Can Ireland’s Nets Men and Anglers work together to achieve greater abundance for Atlantic salmon in Ireland ?

Can Ireland’s Nets Men and Anglers work together to achieve greater abundance for Atlantic salmon in Ireland ?

I was interested to read the points made by Mr Patrick Keys of Moville in his open letter to Minister Dempsey in the January edition of the Marine Times. Some very succinct points were made regarding the management of Ireland’s great salmon resource.

A number of suggestions were made to restore self sustaining populations of salmon to higher future numbers in our rivers, streams, estuaries and oceans including,    

*The need for salmon on spawning beds.

*The need to eliminate poaching.

*The need to eliminate pollution.

*The need to stop anglers taking fish from spawning beds.

*The impact of so called “greedy anglers” (Mostly with prawns)

*The need for research regarding predators such as seals and cormorants and         disappearing juveniles.  

*The impacts of coniferous plantations and effects of forestry on habitat.

*The need to enforce logbook and tagging for anglers.

*The impact of salmon aquaculture and its promotion at the expense of Wild stocks.

including sea lice infestation.

*The impact of over fishing of base food chain species such as sand eels shrimps prawns, which leads to starvation and reduced growth rates.

*Exclusive angling clubs tipping the balance to expensive and excessively exclusive     fishing.

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 nets men and anglers that could be on the same side fighting for a common good. 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.

Fishing and Angling is much more than the raw commercial value of the fish.

The real challenge for salmon management is to define the greater good. Commercial fishing depends on having a resource to fish. Many fish responsibly and in a way that doesn’t diminish the future. Others fish with a more short term view catching what they can, when the going is good to maximise their return on investment. That’s how capitalism works; just ask your bank manager. Should such principles be allowed to over exploit a valuable resource like our Atlantic salmon? It is extremely difficult to put a monetary value on some things such as the sense of excitement and anticipation of getting ready to go fishing to catch salmon. Collectively we need to ensure that there are plenty of fish around in future years and policies need to support all efforts to enhance this diminishing and scarce resource.

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. 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 interested groups. It is those of us who value fishing beyond its 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. Some of the things that need to be addressed are mentioned above and expressed in the open letter to Mr Dempsey in the January edition.

Any modern commercial activity depends on a competitive utilisation of resources. With a scarce national economic resource like Atlantic salmon there is only so much to go around. A general economic principle states that 80% of the business comes from 20% of the activity. I guess it is generally true that traditionally 80% of the salmon caught at sea comes from 20 % of the licence holders. Therefore it is imperative that all those anglers and traditional nets men who have a vested interest in the future of our wild salmon resource take responsibility to ensure that stocks increase and that salmon are valued beyond their commercial tag.

It is encouraging to hear in the letters section that there is a desire to recognise that much more needs to be done to support and build up salmon stocks. The recent ban on indiscriminate drift netting is only the first step to ensure that salmon can be once more abundant in Ireland.

Yours sincerely

Brendan Kerr

19 Swanston Gardens


EH10 7DJ

Greedy anglers are a challenge. Not a commercial activity

Anglers need to be responsible. It would be straightforward as in Scotland to Ban the sale of rod caught fish. Surplus in the river not commercial

Cormorants , seals very emotive and need for careful research. Wildlife adds to the total experience. Salmon see nets as an opportunity Learned behaviour

Shell fish , a forestation, Pollution, Scope for commercial fishermen to assert their rights to have their habitats protected. Opportunity to get involved with total river management

Log books, Tagging Need for implementation

Many salmon anglers caught recently are small and more and more returned alive

Sea lice ; need to acknowledge that they are killers include sea trout

Sand eels Shrimp ..sustainable practice, by catch

Smoked salmon industry ??

Subsistence fishing

Market value of salmon

( Fishermen who are interested beyond commercialism should be encouraged to input into improved management of rivers ,ecosystems, and total eco management

Fair compensation  National Govt needs to recognise value of the resource.

Stop drift net now shows how valuable the resource is !

Ownership of rivers. Responsible fishing Anglers code. Anglers need to behave as well

Need to avoid excessive yob culture

Pricing and ownership. Common sense fairness and reasonability. Will it be possible to keep every one happy?

Michael Collins spearing salmon before we knew of feeding grounds and mono filament nets, modernisation, drainage, forestry , silage sheep dip and the excessive comforts of every day life that we now take for granted. Perhaps just like salmon we don’t value all we have and look after it to achieve and improved formula for living .

I for one would like to thing that I can fish with a good chance of a fish and of sharing the experience and of  fruits of this barely subsistence activity.

In the modern world it is so therapeutic to go back to basics. The world will be a much impoverished place if we lose these natural resources that are real and unlike the virtual world that we are creating for ourselves. I hope and pray that fishing, angling ,catching fish stays a real activity to be practised with relative freedom away from the oppressive virtual world of computers. Mind you I am typing this out on a laptop and will send by e mail. We have the technology, the challenge is to use it wisely and in a context that is real.

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