Trout anglers are calling on the Government to force Inland Fisheries Ireland to deal with the threat that pike pose to the native brown trout population.
The Connacht Angling Council welcomed a recent announcement by Seán Kyne TD, Minister of State for Rural Affairs and Natural Resources, that efforts will be made to rehabilitate trout and salmon populations in the Owenriff River in Connemara, a major tributary of Lough Corrib.
However, their Chairman Martin Kinneavy stressed that the Minister must now put further pressure on Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) to deal with the threat posed by pike in the Great Western Lakes, including Loughs Mask, Carra, Conn and Cullin in Mayo.
“The measures to protect and restore trout stocks in the Owenriff Catchment, which have been impacted by recent introductions of pike, were promised last November,” Mr Kinneavy said, adding that the minister said the IFI would start reducing the numbers of pike in the Owenriff catchment over the coming to a level where they are not impacting significantly on salmonid stocks.
Minister Kyne also announced that the IFI is also preparing an Owenriff Fish Population Rehabilitation Plan that aims to restore and protect trout stocks and habitats.
Mr Kinneavy went on to call on Minister Kyne to push on with this agenda. “Pike are far more prolific breeders than trout, and a pike will eat as much as 20kgs of wild brown trout in western fisheries per year,” he said.
“West of Ireland wild brown trout waters were internationally recognised as the best in the world, and wild brown trout angling is worth €148 million per year to the Irish economy. The bulk of that money is spent in the West, where, as they both the minister and Inland Fisheries Ireland are well aware, it is badly needed.
“It is the view of the Connacht Angling Council that designated wild brown trout fisheries should be managed exclusively for the benefit of wild brown trout. West of Ireland brown trout fisheries are unique eco-systems and need to be protected as such by law; otherwise, we are staring at continuing damage to stocks in this region.”