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Community group bids for Erriff River fishing rights

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Community group bids for Erriff River fishing rights


Anton McNulty


LANDOWNERS along one of the county’s premier salmon rivers have come together in a bid to become the first community group to hold the fishing rights for a local river.
Last Thursday, the Erriff and District Community Group (EDCG) lodged an application to Inland Fisheries Ireland to obtain the licence to run the Aasleagh Lodge and the Erriff Fishery.
The EDCG is comprised of 24 landowners from along the fishing beats of the Erriff River and the local fishing club, and if successful it will be the first arrangement of its kind in either Ireland or Britain.
The Erriff River is one of the best spate salmon and sea-trout rivers in Ireland with a main eight-mile section divided into nine beats. Aasleagh Lodge is a large Victorian country house on the Mayo/Galway border.
The EDCG was founded in 2013 with the aim of rejuvenating the local economy, and tourism and outdoor activities were identified as area in which jobs could be created. Martin Gavin, Chairman of the EDCG, told The Mayo News that there is 100 percent support for the rights proposal among landowners.
“There is huge potential for the community if we are successful; it would be a big boost to the area. We have identified outdoor activities as a way of expanding jobs in the area. At the moment, people come fishing in the river but it doesn’t create too may jobs and leaves very little for the local economy. There are 24 landowners, and they are all happy for us to put in the application. We have put a lot of work into [the application] since before Christmas, and we are very hopeful we will be successful,” he said.
The EDCG proposes to contract the management of the fishing to Delphi Lodge and Fishery and to run the enterprise in such a way that the river and lodge remain an asset to the local community and farmers.

Aims
The group aims to do this by continuing to provide an angling facility for existing loyal visitors to Aasleagh Lodge and Erriff Fishery; by promoting Aasleagh Lodge and Erriff Fishery to new business; by continuing to provide an angling facility to the local fishing club;  by maximising local employment and by returning a dividend to the EDCG members for future projects.
A review of the application is expected to be made by Inland Fisheries Ireland later this week, and a decision on the successful applicate is expected to be made by the middle of this month. As one of the premier salmon fishing rivers in the county, it is understood there is considerable interest among other parties in leasing the river.