Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Drowes Salmon Fishery Report March 12th 2019

Since the weekend conditions have deteriorated and water levels have risen to just under 0.9 metres. Storm Gareth has lashed the northwest today and angling effort has been limited. Further heavy rain and strong winds are forecast for tomorrow and water levels look likely to stay at flood levels ahead of the St. Patrick's Bank Holiday Weekend.
The 2017 Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Statistics Report has been published and is available at the following link https://www.fisheriesireland.ie/…/1594-wild-salmo…/file.html
The total salmon angling catch on the Drowes for 2017 was 1076 salmon of which 397 were released. This compares to a total angling catch in 2016 of 1124 of which 332 were released. This represents a C&R rate of 36.9% a 7.4% increase year on year. The total number of spring salmon reported was 292 of which 120, 41% were released.
For method of capture during 2017, fly fishing remained the most successful method accounting for 39% of the catch followed by spinning 31%, prawn/shrimp 15%, worm 11% and unknown/not stated 4%.
The peak month for catches was June followed by July and May.
Nationally the 2017 salmon angling catch was 27,722, of which 12,562 were released.
Notably there was a further decline in participation levels with total salmon licence sales falling to 18,212. More worrying was a marked decrease in logbook returns, falling to just 54.5%, the lowest return rate since the very early years of the introduction of the logbook scheme.
To put this in perspective, licence sales, the number of people participating in salmon angling, has fallen by 52% since 2002. More logbooks, 18,554 were returned in 2006 than were sold in total in 2017 and the return rate in 2006 was 68%.

Some clue to the reasons for the sharp decrease in logbook returns may be found in the general disaffection among the salmon angling fraternity concerning current IFI management policies and of the implementation of the National Strategy for Angling Development in particular. 

Now in the fourth year of a 5 year, €25 million programme, the national angling strategy which promised to deliver 40,000 extra angling tourists, €96 million extra in angling revenue and 1800 extra jobs has failed. Salmon angling contributes the greatest share of overall angling spend. It is also the only sector where angling participation levels can be accurately assessed through salmon licence sales. The report just published confirms that not one new angler has participated in salmon angling as a result of the NSAD. Participation levels continue to decline even as our population increases.

Visiting salmon angler numbers also continue to decline. In the introduction to the 2017 report it is stated that "Visiting anglers from France and Germany continue to increase year on year". However nationality data recorded since 2002 shows that the number of visiting French anglers has decreased by 17%, German anglers by 41%, British anglers by 68% and Northern Irish anglers by 65%. 
These are the facts of Irish salmon angling today. In this International Year of the Salmon it is time for IFI to decide whether it is content to continue to manage the decline of Irish salmon angling or commit to arrest that decline and engage with stakeholders in protecting and developing the salmon resource for the future.