Ireland as an angling destination
Sir, – I have just returned from a most enjoyable week fly-fishing for Atlantic salmon in Norway. I fished on pristine rivers accessed through open and clean farmyards, where fish counters are installed on every river to monitor stock levels, where netting for salmon is illegal, where hydro-electric schemes allow fish to pass and provide a minimum level of water flow, even in dry conditions, to allow for the safe passage of migrating fish. Even the forestry to the river’s edge is free of phosphates and planted at a low enough density to allow low-level plants enough light and space to grow, thus supporting wildlife.
Last Sunday, I walked my dog along the full length of the ESB salmon fishery on the river Lee at the Inniscarra dam, Co Cork. The contrast with Norway could not have been greater.
I was met by endless rubbish, discarded fishing line, 20m of large-diameter ESB cable by the river’s edge, bonfires, ragwort and forestry so dense that nothing grows at ground level. Despite an almost full reservoir above the dam, the level of water being released was so low that virtually no oxygen could exist in the river. Phosphate contamination allowed a green slime to cover the red sandstone gravel. The river was a murky brown, appearing almost devoid of life.
Finally, I thought of the few salmon that made it this far upstream having to pass through endless nets on the Lee estuary, the same nets that killed one of three visiting dolphins to Cork last week. Ireland as an angling destination? What a joke. – Yours, etc,