A new report published by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) shows that more wild salmon are now being "caught and released" than "caught and kept" by anglers in Ireland to help conserve declining fish populations.
For the first time since records began in 2001, the Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Statistics Report of 2020 shows that the number of salmon caught and released by anglers now outstrips the number of salmon that are kept by 51 per cent to 49 per cent.
According to the report, five rivers accounted for over half of all salmon caught. These were the river Moy; Blackwater (Waterford); Laune, Corrib and Lower Lee.
Collectively 27,829 salmon were caught by commercial fishermen and recreational anglers in 2020, including salmon which were later released. For sea trout the total catch recorded was 1,394 when figures for commercial fishermen and anglers are combined.
Fintan Gorman, IFI chairperson, said: "It is encouraging to see anglers practising 'catch and release' to a greater extent than ever before. However, 'catch and release' by itself won't solve the problem of declining fish populations. That's why [we] will continue implementing measures such as fish barrier mitigation, water quality monitoring, invasive species control and enforcement patrols.
“We will also keep promoting our precious salmon fishery through schools and marketing programmes. These are crucial factors in protecting our fish populations for the benefit of this generation and future generations.”
Frances O’Donnell, IFI chief executive, added: “Atlantic salmon and sea trout are facing a very uncertain future due to habitat degradation, water quality issues, unacceptable levels of poaching, marine migration and effects of climate change. As always staff are deeply committed to executing our statutory role to enforce, protect and conserve our native fish stocks.”
*Acknowledged as the largest and most extensive club on the river Moy, East Mayo Anglers Association has now extended its annual catch-and-release competition to include associate members who catch a salmon greater than 7lb.
The Swinford 250 Perpetual Cup was initially presented to the winner of the largest salmon caught and released. However, for the outgoing season and the foreseeable future anglers releasing a salmon with proof of weight, witness and photograph will be entered into a draw worth €1,000 of angling-related prizes.
In 2020 the club reported 903 fish by all methods, of which 304 were returned. This season 952 were recorded, with 406 returned. This 9 per cent increase is proof that the effort to promote catch-and-release is going in the right direction.
"Remember, when returning a salmon every effort should be made to do this in the least harmful way possible," said club treasurer Brendan Wilson.
The association wish to thank Chadwick's Ltd, Premier Wealth Management, Tiernan's Tackle and club members David Hawley and Enda Conboy for their generous sponsorship. Prizes were drawn and equally split amongst 10 winners.
*The Dún Laoghaire RNLI shop on the East Pier is the location for a new community defibrillator, donated by the family of Larry Costello, who died following a cardiac arrest in 2016.
The family has funded six defibrillators throughout the local area, and the Dún Laoghaire lifeboat shop is a fitting location as crewmember Gary Hayes helped the family with the project, through his role with Dalkey Community First Responders Group and as a RNLI crewmember.
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