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Pike-control measures must remain in place – anglers


A FINE CATCH Kieran Foley, a member of Westport Trout Anglers, proudly displays an 8.5lb brown trout he caught on Lough Mask. Trout anglers have expressed fears that a lack of pike control measures will devastate such brown trout stocks.

Edwin McGreal

Current control measures of pike stokes in Ireland must remain in place or the famed brown trout could be wiped out of existence in Mayo.
That’s what Mayo county councillors were told at last week’s meeting of the authority in a presentation given on behalf of the Connacht Angling Council.
They expressed fears about what uncontrolled numbers of pike could do to brown trout stocks. Stopping current control measures is a proposal by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) which is being heavily contested by the Connacht Angling Council.
Two of their members, Tom Byrne and Martin Feerick, both from Partry, addressed the council on the issue.
Tom Byrne stated that in all of Western Europe, there are only 13 designated brown trout fisheries left. Twelve of them are in Ireland and four of these are in Mayo – Loughs Mask, Carra, Conn and Cullen.
“Mayo has the best stocks in Western Europe and, arguably, the world. The brown trout fisheries are worth €148 million to the Irish economy every year. The brown trout is part of our natural heritage, it has been here since the Ice Age ended. The pike is not natural to Ireland, it is an invasive species,” stated Mr Byrne.
He expressed grave concerns about any strategy from IFI which would not control pike numbers in these lakes, calling such plans ‘an act of ecological vandalism’.
“The protection of the brown trout is vital. Pike have wreaked havoc, eating the brown trout to near extinction. When John Wayne stood on the bridge in Cong in ‘The Quiet Man’, brown trout swam in the waters beneath him. The brown trout is there no more,” added Mr Byrne.
He was highly critical also of IFI.
“They are so far removed from the reality on the ground. Those making these decisions do not work here in the west of Ireland or live here. We cannot accept policy decisions made by bureaucrats in Dublin. This is a rural issue, not an urban one,” said Mr Byrne.
He was also critical of what he referred to as ‘the pike lobby’.
“There are 8,000 pike lakes in Ireland. We trout anglers do not interfere in their affairs,” he said.
Martin Feerick told the meeting that pike is ‘a fabulous predator’ and said how pike would grow to twice the length and three times the size of the brown trout by four years of age.
He also said how the pike breed much faster than the brown trout and their numbers lead to the devastation of brown trout stocks.
He said if IFI plans to abandon control measures went ahead, there would be a complete ‘wipeout’ of brown trout stocks in Lough Carra. Some numbers might survive in Loughs Mask, Conn, Cullen and Corrib, he said, only because there are deeper pockets of those lakes where the trout would be safe from pike. However, fishing for brown trout would be next to impossible in such conditions.
Cllr Al McDonnell (FF), himself a fisherman on Lough Carra, proposed the council should send to the IFI a ‘unanimous resolution outlining our total opposition to their proposals’.
Cllr Gerry Coyle (FG) was highly critical of the IFI’s past record, while Cllr Damien Ryan (FF) called for political representation at regional level on the IFI board.

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