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 .