Thursday, 24 November 2016

Calling for a prohibition on pair-trawling in coastal waters

The Irish Wildlife Trust said

Pair trawling is a fishing practice involving two boats dragging between them a single large net with small meshing. It is an activity which has lately been going on in sheltered inshore bays and estuaries along the west coast - many of which are protected for nature conservation (eg Kenmare Bay). 


Pair trawling targets sprat which goes on to be processed into fish meal. Sprat is a small fish which forms large shoals and is a keystone of the marine ecosystem being food for larger fish such as cod, as well as sea birds. Not only does pair trawling sieve the water of food for other marine life, it also has the potential to catch seals, dolphins or anything else in its path such as migrating salmon or spawning sea bass.

IWT campaign officer Pádraic Fogarty says "catching sprat to be ground up for fish meal is insane. It's a wanton destruction of the whole marine ecosystem, frequency in areas which are supposed to be protected for wildlife."
Large fishmeal plants (both constructed and planned) operate in the expectation that boarfish (a small fish unexploited until recently) would provide the raw materials. However boarfish catches have declined sharply in recent years so there is significant pressure to find replacement feed. 

It is important therefore that this practice is prohibited in order to preserve coastal areas for marine life and other users who depend on the resource. The practice highlights the unsustainable nature of fish farming at sea, which relies on the wasteful use of wild caught fish for feed.

Off The Scales Fishing Magazine said 

Yes, this is happening right now in Cork Harbour. Second day of this in the upper harbour, near Little Island. Apparently the official word is they are "fishing for sprat" but of course bass, mullet and salmon (which are running at the moment) will also inevitably be caught as by-catch. This is disgraceful but deplorably not illegal, as Ireland offers basically ZERO PROTECTION t
o inshore/estuarine nursery areas or waters. This MUST change!

Lobbying must be stepped up, more people need to work together on this cause - or else nothing will change and there will be NOTHING left for future generations. Anglers are one of very few groups who actually care about protecting the seas. It is our responsibility and duty to try our best to save our seas, our fish and our environment. 

Monday, 14 November 2016

Inland Fisheries Ireland calls for vigilance and protection of waterways as high quality river sites in significant decline

State of the Environment’ report from the Environmental Protection Agency shows areas for concern as well as highlighting progress made to date
Tuesday, 8th November 2016: Inland Fisheries Ireland is calling for continued vigilance on Ireland’s rivers and lakes following the latest ‘State of the Environment Report’ from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The report shows that there has been a substantial loss in the number of highest quality river sites.
According to the report, only 21 sites were classified as the highest quality rivers (0.7% of sites) in most recent monitoring period (2013-2015). This compares with 575 sites between 1987-1990 and 82 sites between 2001-2003. In addition, 18% of monitored rivers and 27% of monitored lakes were defined as less than good status due to fish ecological status – monitored and reported on by Inland Fisheries Ireland. Preliminary assessment suggests that barriers to fish migration and physical deterioration of habitats may be partly to blame.
Between 2010 and 2012, there were also 70 fish kills reported. However serious pollution of rivers has fallen to just over six kilometres compared to 17 kilometres in 2010-2012 and 53 kilometres in 2007-2009.
Dr Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “The loss of high quality rivers is of concern to Inland Fisheries Ireland as anything which affects the aquatic environment of fish can have impact on our fisheries resource. We need to protect our fish populations and conserve our resource for the next generation.
The long term conservation of the resource requires the maintenance of healthy and ecologically viable ecosystems.  This includes monitoring and protecting the water quality, removing barriers to fish migration, improving land management practices which cause adverse physical changes to fisheries habitat, managing changes in water quantity and flow and controlling invasive alien species.”
Dr Byrne continued: “The fisheries resource is worth €836 million annually to the Irish economy and supports over 11,000 jobs often in rural and peripheral communities. We have over 273,000 domestic anglers currently in Ireland and in 2015, 163,000 international visitors fished here. Angling and the fisheries resource, if developed in a conservation focused manner, offers huge recreational and economic potential for Ireland now and into the future.
We have some of the best wild fisheries in Europe and water quality in Ireland still compares favourably with our European neighbours. However, the dramatic reduction in the number of our pristine rivers is a wake-up call which we need to address.”
Inland Fisheries Ireland’s Fisheries Officers and Environmental Officers work throughout the year, both day and night, to police and protect Ireland’s natural resource. They monitor for water pollution and any illegal fishing activity which could have a negative impact on fish populations and their habitat.
Inland Fisheries Ireland has a confidential hotline number to enable members of the general public to report incidents – 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24. This phone line is designed to encourage the reporting of incidents of illegal fishing, water pollution and invasive species.
For more information on Inland Fisheries Ireland, visit www.fisheriesireland.ie.To read the ‘State of the Environment’ Report from the Environmental Protection Agency, visit www.epa.ie .

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Shocking photographs of the OPW "Brutal bank clearance on the Bandon River, Dunmanway

Friends of the Irish Environment is today (07-09-2016) publishing a Report obtained under Access to Information on the Environment showing shocking photographs of the Office of Public Works’ brutal bank clearance on the Bandon River beside Dunmanway’s Long Bridge in September 2015. 

The site is host to a dense colony of the protected fresh water pearl mussel, and the Report details ‘removal of riparian trees and vegetation and disturbance of the ground resulting in the presence of large amounts of loose soil.’ Subsequent reports by the National Parks and Wildlife Service include photographs showing the river entirely overwhelming the silt fences put in place to prevent erosion. 

Friends of the Irish Environment has written to the Minister, highlighting the dangers to the environment of the OPW’s highly interventionist approach to urban flooding which emphasises hard landscape measures over catchment management and soft measures. The disastrous approach demonstrated in this Report is being replicated in the flood management schemes across the country. 

FIE Photographic Report   /    OPW Report   /   Letter to the Minister


Friday, 23 September 2016

Fisherman threatens to sue OPW over ‘destroyed’ fishing pool


Article Published on Mayo News 20 September 2016 http://www.mayonews.ie/news/28576-fisherman-threatens-to-sue-opw-over-destroyed-fishing-pool

A CORK fisherman is threatening to sue the Office of Public Works, claiming it destroyed a fishing pool adjacent to his property on the River Moy. Tim O’Mahony claims that work the OPW carried out on the river last year resulted in 300 tonnes of silt running back into the river and destroying the pool, known as Howley’s Pool located on the River Moy between Swinford and Foxford.

The Cork resident owns a fishing lodge beside the pool, which he hires out to anglers. Claiming it is now unsafe to fish along the river bank, he says his business has suffered as a result.
“It is dangerous to walk along the bank because of what the OPW has done,” he told The Mayo News. “I was told they [OPW] are entitled to do whatever they wanted and there is nothing I can do about it. What they have done is horrific. The pool is no longer a pool … it is gone.”
Mr O’Mahony explained that the OPW extracted silt from the river last September and built up the riverbanks. However, he said once heavy rain arrived in November the silt and soil from the bank flowed back into the river, and he claimed this has destroyed the fishing pool.

“I went up around October and they [the OPW] had nearly finished. It looked a fabulous job, but I knew straight away when I saw cracks in the bank that it was going to go. A couple of weeks later it was all back into the river—and this was before the major floods. The bank and the pool has been totally destroyed. It makes me sick to even talk about it. It is sick to think that a government body created this mess,” he said.

Mr O’Mahony said he has been fishing on the Moy for over 30 years and bought the house beside Howley’s Pool ten years ago. He says fishermen would fly in from all over Europe and stay at his house to fish on the Moy. He has met with the OPW and Minister of State, Seán Canny, to try to get the river restored, but he says he has been left frustrated by their lack of urgency.
He has now engaged a firm of solicitors and has threatened to sue the OPW unless they come up with a plan to restore the pool.

“We are giving them seven weeks to come up with a plan to rectify the damage that has been done. This has been going on for nearly a year, and if they do not come up with a plan we will have to sue the OPW,” he said.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Fishing Etiquette Comparisons

Combat Fishing
I've been wanting to write something, anything on fishing etiquette for some time but have not got around to it. So lets start, what is fishing etiquette, why is it so important and read the comparisons from around the world on it.

I think fishing etiquette can be best described as a set of basic rules of common conduct and courtesy while fishing. If you are a visitor or new angler to an area its best practice to ask first what the local etiquette is around fishing. It can be so easy to unintentionally step on someone's toes or cause an annoyance. Fishing etiquette, if followed correctly ensures there is harmony and cuts down on conflict or annoyance to others while enjoying a peaceful and tranquil past time.

I've gathered some interesting articles from different sources that outline the different points of Etiquette. Some are universal while other points differ.

https://rootsrated.com/stories/unwritten-rules-fly-fishing-etiquette

http://www.theonlinefisherman.com/469-boating-articles-on-theonlinefishermancom/4905-fishing-101-etiquette

http://www.limerickanddistrictanglersassociation.com/fishingetiquette.htm

https://mysterytacklebox.com/blog/fishing-etiquette-101-6-rules-for-respect-on-the-water

http://www.worldfishingnetwork.com/community/post/fishing-etiquette

http://www.trout-fly-fishing.com/fly-fishing-etiquette.html

Friday, 16 September 2016

The Salmon Hat-trick

published by Simon Toussifar

The phone rang, it was one of my fishing buddies. The conversation was the usual, we need rain, lots of it. Where are the salmon... Next flood we'll get a good run of fish surely? Having watched the 5 day forecast with anticipation, it appeared that heavy rain was finally due. So the usual ritual ensued, preparation of fishing gear, flies and make arrangements to get out!

The Bandon River
A good amount of rain fell a week and half into the month of September after a very long dry spell so there was an expectation of a good run of fish. The river came up and started to drop. It was time to go fly fishing. I met the fishing buddy that morning and off we went on a mission to catch salmon!

Desert Bridge Bandon River

On arrival the water looked perfect, still up high with the colour clearing. No sign of fresh fish travelling, a few coloured fish jumping alright. First pool worked it down and nothing. Moved on to the next pool and cast the fly across waiting for that subtle take. Then sure enough as the fly swung around I felt that slow pulling of the line, it was the unmistakable take of a salmon. Doing nothing as is the way when salmon fly fishing when a salmon takes I let the fish turn to hook itself and slowly but firmly pulled into the fish so setting the hook.


I was using my 12 foot Shakespeare Oracle double-hander with Hardy Marquis No.2 fly reel. A nice setup that rarely fails. It wasn't a big fish but fought well doing acrobatic jumps and darting up and down the river. I called the buddy to come over with the landing net and do the honours. Well done lad he said. A nice coloured 4 pound salmon. We released it straight away. You'll probably get a second fish knowing your luck he said.... I laughed and said you know what that sounds about right while casting the line across the water.. Then no sooner had the words been uttered... bang.... another fish on...

Simon Toussifar
This was a bigger fish I could feel the weight of it bending the rod forward. It jumped to reveal itself, wow... A double figure coloured fish... The battle continued with the fish running and charging towards me. And that lovely clicking sound of the Hardy reel as the fish ran with line.... This is what its all about.... The fish finally came to the landing the net weighing 12 pounds. It was a coloured hen fish so we wasted no time and returned it back to water carefully...

You lucky bugger he said... You might aswell go for the Hat-trick now.... Two casts after he said those words... bang and into a third fish... Hey I'm on again I said... What!!! This was another big fish... It battled hard and took its time getting into the landing net. 14 pound coloured hen fish, again we wasted no time in returning this fish and it took a few moments to recover before swimming away.

Carefully holding a 14lb Hen Salmon before Release

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Life of a Salmon

Adult salmon change their appearance from silver to darker colours during their stay in fresh water. Those that have changed to the spawning livery are referred to as "coloured salmon". Those that survive spawning again change their appearance back to bright silver as they prepare to return to sea. The silver is caused by excretion of a substance called guanin beneath their scales which protects them from salt water by stopping their bodies absorbing excessive quantities of salts. This is but part of a process called osmo regulation for that purpose. Salmon migrate to the sea as smolts and return a number of years afterwards.

Those that come back to the river after one winter are classed 1SW those that have stayed a little longer but not another winter have a '+' added to their class i.e. they are 1SW+ All 1SW fish are called grilse. A fish that has spent two winters in the sea is classed 2SW and most of the spring salmon belong to this class. Really large salmon spend more time in the sea before maturity and may be 3, 4 or 5SW.

After spawning salmon are called 'kelts' or "black salmon". Those weakened fish start to drop downstream and begin eating to recover condition. Female fish are the most likely to survive spawning because they head downstream immediately after laying their eggs. Males keep scouting around the redds looking for new females and fighting amongst themselves to mate with them, consequently the huge majority of them perish in the rivers and provide a source of protein that is appreciated by future generations as it recycles through insects etc. Kelts are very easily caught and occasionally beginners mistake them for 'clean' fish, a term used to describe a fish that has entered the river and has not yet spawned, and usually a specimen that is in reasonably bright condition. By contrast kelts and fish that are near to spawning are described as unclean fish.

One further confusion remains the 'baggot' or 'rawner' both terms are used to describe fish that shed their spawn late or not at all. Such fish are occasionally caught in springtime on the early rivers and indeed some salmon may spawn as late as March month. Baggots can be distinguished by their soft flesh, distended bellies and sometimes open vents.

No doubt over the years many of them have been accidentally kept as clean fish because they are clearly not kelts and indeed some fishermen were known to favour killing them. They must not be killed because it is morally and legally the wrong thing to do.

Photos Compliments of Fly Angler Simon Toussifar Copyright Protected

Kelt- thin and lanky in appearance. This fish is bright silver and preparing to migrate back to the sea. (C) Pic. Safely Released. 

Fresh run salmon - deep and well conditioned, silver in appearance, firm flesh and a strong fighter. Does not feed in fresh water and is a challenging quarry (C) pic. a kept fish.
Coloured female salmonDark coloured, distended belly heavy with eggs and the vent beginning to open are sure signs of the latter stages of preparation for spawning (C) pic. Safely Released.