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Connacht Tribune

Anglers seek buffer zone to protect trout and salmon

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Trout anglers have demanded the introduction of a two kilometre buffer-zone on Lough Corrib to protect salmonid species from predatory pike, an invasive species.

And local fishermen have reiterated their call for the Corrib to be designated as a wild salmonid fishery, to be managed primarily for the benefit of trout and salmon.

Oughterard Anglers and Boatmen Association (OABA) said its position about the need for pike to be controlled hasn’t changed since the publication of new research by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) about diet preferences of pike.

The research, referred to as ‘McLoone’, examines whether pike and brown trout can co-exist in the same habitat. Using statistical models, it found that pike and brown trout could live together within relatively large deep lakes with strong stream connectivity. However in small, low-complex systems pike introductions could potentially have a devastating impact on resident brown trout populations.

The practice of pike removal and the impact it has on brown trout stocks was also examined. The findings, according to IFI, suggest that pike removal may only be effective in protecting brown trout populations in systems where trout are the only available prey but may have little effect in systems where other prey, such as roach, is available.

Mike Donnellan, spokesperson for Oughterard Anglers, said their stance on pike hasn’t changed.

“Pike controls are definitely required. There is no doubt about it, we 100% need to control pike or else salmon and trout could be wiped out,” he said.

The McLoone report suggested that in large, deep lakes, of 600 hectares or more, there is no need for pike controls.

Mr Donnellan dismissed this as a “hypothesis” and a “mathematical formula”. “It’s never been tried and tested,” he said.

The research relates to Lake Windermere in England, where 13.6% of the lake is shallow and less than two metres, the potential poke spawning area.

However, on the lower Corrib – around Moycullen, Claregalway, Headford – 46.4% of the lake is less than two metres. The potential pike spawning area of the upper lake (less than two metres) – Oughterard, Cong, Corr na Mona, Glencorrib – is 22.7%.

“It’s comparing apples with oranges. The potential spawning area for pike in the Corrib, particularly the shallower south lake, is huge and that proves that we need to control predatory pike there,” he said.

Mr Donnellan also pointed to scientific research conducted on Lough Erne, in Northern Ireland, ‘Migration and survival of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar smolts in a large natural lake’ which showed pike predation levels of between 32% and 54% on juvenile salmon entering systems. Published in the Journal of Fish Biology, it was commissioned by IFI, ESB and Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Belfast.

It found that pike prey on salmon smolts as they enter the lake through tributary systems, and it backs anglers call for a two-kilometre pike control buffer zone.

Mr Donnellan pointed out that IFI was spending €1.1 million on the Owenriff catchment in Connemara, the most important spawning and tributary nurseries for the Corrib, to rehabilitate the fish salmonoid stock, which has been devastated since the introduction of pike.

“What’s the point in spending all that money if you’re not going to control pike in the Corrib? What will happen is you rehabilitate juvenile salmonids on Owenriff but as soon as they enter the Corrib at Oughterard they get clipped by predatory pike. That doesn’t make sense. We need pike controls otherwise they’ll eat all the juvenile salmon and trout,” he said.

Speaking about the pike diet research, CEO of IFI, Ciaran Byrne, said: “This research was initiated to answer some on-going questions relating to the dietary preference of pike and the pike-brown trout interactions in lakes across Ireland. Previous studies in this area were carried out more than 50 years ago which is a long time within our changing lake systems.

“This research is important as it gives an insight into the behaviour of the pike species and provides updated information around their relationship with brown trout. The changing food web and altered preferences of predators in the water systems highlights the need for continued monitoring and updated data to inform effective management strategies.

“This research will now be considered alongside the many historic, socio economic and management factors which all inform fisheries management and development work. Inland Fisheries Ireland uses the best available scientific information to underpin management decision making and advice.”

Connacht Tribune

Coffins have to brought by tractor over flooded North Galway road

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Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) and Cllr Peter Keaveney (FG) at the Creggs road out of Glenamaddy where flooding occurs on an annual basis.

Annual flooding on a stretch of road in North Galway requires the necessity for a tractor and trailer to bring the remains of a deceased person from the area to the local cemetery.

This was the claim at a local area meeting when it was demanded that Galway County Council carry out flood relief works on the road near Glenamaddy which is left under several feet of water every winter.

It resulted in Cllr Peter Keaveney tabling a motion at the Ballinasloe Municipal Council meeting that essential drainage works take place along the Roscommon road out of the town now that water levels are low. He wants this carried out within the next two weeks.

During one of the worst winters in recent years, the road was closed for three months and the Fine Gael councillor and agricultural contractor said that he pulled around 20 cars out of the flooded stretch when motorists decided to take the chance of driving through it.

Even in drought conditions, the levels remain incredibly high and this is mainly down to a local turlough that retains water throughout the year.

While he said that Galway County Council officials were extremely helpful, the problem lay with the Office of Public Works who would not allow drainage works as the road is situated in a Special Area of Conservation.

Senior Executive Engineer Damien Mitchell informed the meeting that Galway County Council are in a position to carry out some works but there are certain areas that only the Office of Public Works can drain.

Mr Mitchell said that the best way forward was a co-ordinated approach involving the County Council and the OPW while accepting that there was a major problem with flooding along this road.

In response, Cllr Keaveney said that this was a very acceptable move and added that a joint approach to the flooding in Glenamaddy was required at this stage and particularly with the winter approaching.

Williamstown’s Cllr Declan Geraghty said that residents were living in hell as some of them saw their houses destroyed by rising flood waters near Glenamaddy.

“There are even deceased people being brought by tractor and trailer to be buried which is an absolute disgrace. There is an opportunity to do this now or otherwise we are looking at flooding for the next 10 years.

“People have put everything into their homes only to see them destroyed when it comes to prolonged heavy rainfall.

“There is a solution to this problem and environmental issues should not take precedence,” he added.

The Independent councillor said that raising the level of the road, which leads to Creggs and onto Roscommon, was not the answer to the problem because the levels were so high.

Galway County Council have carried out several surveys of the area around the flooded road and officials told previous meetings that, subject to approval from the OPW, there was an engineering solution possible.

(Photo Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) and Cllr Peter Keaveney (FG) at the Creggs road out of Glenamaddy where flooding occurs on an annual basis.)

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Connacht Tribune

Teen arrested over €45,000 cocaine seizure

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Gardaí have seized €45,000 of what they believe to be cocaine in Ballinasloe.

Gardaí attached to Ballinasloe Garda Station conducted an intelligence-led operation in the Dunlo Harbour area of the town yesterday.

During the course of this operation a quantity of suspected cocaine, estimated to be worth €45,000, concealed on derelict grounds was seized.

A male in his mid-teens was arrested at the scene and detained at Ballinasloe Garda Station on Sunday.

He has since been released with a file being prepared for the Garda Youth Diversion Office.

The focus of Operation Tara is to disrupt, dismantle and prosecute drug trafficking networks, at all levels.

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Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway

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The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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