Cautious welcome for salmon netting issue

No Salmon Nets In Irish Waters(NSN) have given a cautious welcome to the recent statement by the DCAL Minister regarding the remaining commercial salmon netting off the coast of Antrim and other DCAL licensed salmon nets on Lough Neagh and off the Co. Down coast.

NSN chairman Seamus Donnelly said: “While we welcome this news, we feel it has not gone far enough. The Minister has the power to stop netting now, she must be more decisive as urgent action not words is required to halt the ever decreasing numbers of salmon returning to our rivers.

“As a group of passionate conservationists we urge the Minister not to grant any licenses for coastal netting in 2012, as we believe our salmon stocks simply can not sustain another season of commercial netting.

“We want these actions to be compulsory and not voluntary.

“With ever decreasing salmon runs in recent years, we feel that in this modern age, there is no longer any place for the commercial netting and exploitation of wild salmon in this country.

“There is huge potential for recreational angling in this country, which to date has largely been untapped. If we could realise some of this potential we could generate significant benefits for local communities, creating hundreds jobs and injecting much needed revenue into our economy at a time when unemployment is at its highest level for generations.

“Our counterparts in the South of Ireland and Scotland already have well established markets for angling tourism. They attract visitors from all over the world coming to enjoy the scenery, angling, wildlife and atmosphere. Northern Ireland has much of this to offer too and, given the correct conservation measures, has the potential to be a world leader.”

Sandra Overend, MLA said: “Salmon numbers all over Ireland are under pressure like never before, the situation has reached critical levels in many areas, with many rivers in the south now closed, while others have severe restrictions in force 

“The situation in the north in the DCAL jurisdiction is particularly precarious – here, almost all rivers are not meeting their conservation limits – put simply this means they are not getting enough salmon returning to the rivers each year to sustain the population in the long term and, while these clubs are releasing salmon back to the system, these nets only take and offer nothing to help sustain stocks for the future.     

“Anglers are only too aware of the state of our salmon stocks and are taking action to reverse this trend. Most clubs are very proactive, carrying out a range of conservation measures such as voluntary catch and release, habitat restoration and enhancement, voluntarily bailiffing to safeguard stocks, and running local hatcheries all year round.

“Very simply the removal of  the nets will mean more salmon returning to our rivers every year. More salmon coupled with conservation measures already in place will help to restore our rivers to abundant levels.

“Angling clubs have for many years been financing enhancement measures to allow as many salmon eggs to survive as possible.

“Increasing numbers of returning salmon will unlock the potential of angling tourism which will benefit local communities with much needed employment and revenue.”