Save our Rivers and our Fish Before It's Too Late
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We as a nation, the Irish Government and Fisheries Ireland are not dealing with the main factors that have led to the decline of our native brown trout/salmon/sea trout and all river system species over the past number of decades.
Poor water quality, pollution, man made interference with rivers systems, sea lice as a consequence of intensive fish farming, drift net fishing, large fish kills and the list goes on... Most of our rivers and streams are both our drinking water supply sources and where our waste water is released, both treated and untreated ?
We need new legislative protection for our countries rivers and lakes along with a long term sustainability plan for improving our water quality and fish stock levels. This would also include substantial penalties for non compliance with required new legislation. Increased funding to improve freshwater habitats and increased research needs to put in place now and not sometime in the future when it's too late.
The following are some of the main factors that are contributing to the decline of our native brown trout, salmon, sea trout and other river species:
1. Water Quality- according to the EPA- http://www.thejournal.ie/ireland-water-quality-3573358-Aug2017/ In the 1980's, we had over 500 rivers classified as pristine waters in Ireland, In 2015 we had just 21. Industrial waste, agricultural effluent (silage effluent,slurry, milk waste from dairy etc..), the spreading of artificial fertiliser (through land and forestry), domestic, commercial and industrial waste water systems are all contributing to the deterioration of our water quality.
2. Pollution-In July 2014, 'over 5000' fish were killed on the river Tolka, Dublin. https://www.fisheriesireland.ie/Press-releases/detergent-company-convicted-following-major-river-tolka-fish-kill.html .The cause of this fish kill water later determined to be a chemical detergent spill, the company was convicted a year later and fined '€250' plus €34,603.45 in 'legal cost and expenses' I cannot tell you what the breakdown of these expenses is.
Just to give you some comparison to the Tolka fish kill case, in 2016, an angler in Co. Galway was convicted of illegally catching 2 salmon and 1 trout, he was fishing without a licence and was fined '€900'. http://claregalway.info/nuacht/news/2016/10/belfast-angler-fined-poaching-claregalway/
According to the EPA in 2017, 'six rivers in the country were classed as badly polluted. They were the Tolka between Clonee and Clonsilla in Dublin; the Avoca in Co Wicklow; the Aughboy in Co Wexford; the Bredagh near Moville in Co Donegal; the Laurencetown stream in Co Galway; and the Srah river which runs into Lough Mask near Tourmakeady in Co Mayo.'
3. Construction of developments on/near river systems- Construction of developments across the country have caused a number of major land and bog slides which have caused devastating fish kills, surely the planning application process for these developments needs to be reviewed.
4 (a). Direct River Construction-
Hydro Electric Construction/Operation- Construction of hydro electric plants (with or without sufficient fish passes), has decimated fish populations across the country. This includes the artificial control of water levels and flow rates through dam control, e.g. it may rain for a couple of days but water levels remain low and fish cannot travel upstream to spawn as a result.
4 (b). Direct River Construction- The construction of dams in rivers systems and in Special Areas of Conservation (SAC's ) is still occurring in Ireland, denying salmon and trout access to spawning grounds. http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/yourview/fifty-years-later-salmon-smolts-still-cant-find-the-dam-door-56119.html
This is by no means an exhaustive list and is based on my own personal opinion backed up by the facts that I have referenced.
Just to give a little of my background, I grew up in Kerry and I have been fishing on the river Smearlagh, Co. Kerry for over 30 years (I started fishing when I was five, with my father).
In August 2008, a bog slide of up to 2 km entered the Smearlagh, near Lyracrompane, Co. Kerry, killing 'thousands of salmon and trout', the exact cause of this bog slide is still unknown. http://www.pressreader.com/ireland/irish-independent/20080826/281659660834624
Year on year, I have seen a decline in the numbers of the native brown trout species on this river. There are no competitions held on this river and the number of anglers anually is minimal.
If we don't seriously start to really question why our fish population is decreasing in the coming years, fishing competitions will be the least of our worries..........
There are also economic reasons for saving our rivers and fishing industry, in 2013 it was reported 'that angling and angling tourism in Ireland is generating a dividend in excess of €0.75 billion within the Irish economy every year'
Maybe Just worth Saving?
We cannot do this without the public petitioning the government for change?
Thanks for reading.
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