Angling for wild salmon approved for 87 rivers

57 rivers fully open with 30 on ‘catch-and-release’ restrictions

 A heron watches salmon jump in the river Nore, Castletown, Co Laois. Photograph: James Flynn

A heron watches salmon jump in the river Nore, Castletown, Co Laois. Photograph: James Flynn


The “king of fish” may be caught by anglers on 87 rivers next year following an assessment of the current state of wild salmon stocks.

Connemara’s Screebe and Kerry’s Sheen are among six rivers which had formerly been subject to “catch and release” restrictions, and will now be fully open for harvest in 2014, according to Minister of State for Natural Resources Fergus O’Dowd.

Stocks in the Bunowen (Ballinakill fishery district), Owenwee Belclare (Ballinakill), Glyde (Dundalk) and Argideen ( Cork) are also deemed healthy enough for a change to “ open” status, Mr O’Dowd has said.

The Government’s Independent Standing Scientific Committee for Salmon assessed 143 rivers, and advised that 57 could be opened, as a surplus of fish had been identified.

Another 30 rivers have been classified as open for angling on a “catch-and-release” basis only, while 56 rivers remain closed, as they have no surplus available for harvesting.

The lower Liffey and the Boyne are among those with “catch and release” status, while the Corrib in Galway, Mayo’s Moy and the Drowes in Donegal– where the first salmon of the year is often recorded– retain the “open” classification. The Owenavorragh (Wexford), which was open for catch and release in 2013, will close in 2014.

Mr O’Dowd said he was pleased to note that 87 rivers in all would permit licensed angling activity, adding that he would be maintaining his “price cut” for licences, which was introduced in 2012.

Next year’s conservation measures, underpinned by regulations and bylaws, were based on management and scientific advice on the current status of stocks received from Inland Fisheries Ireland, Mr O’Dowd said. He has also considered submissions received through the public consultation exercise.

Scientists have reported a steady improvement in levels in rivers since the driftnet ban was introduced in 2007, but there is still concern about the wild salmon’s survival rate at sea which may be linked to climate change.

In 2010, up to 80 rivers were closed, but this fell to 60 by the 2011 season. This past year, 94 rivers were approved for angling – 62 being fully open and 32 on catch and release.