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Angry anglers demand row-back on lakes plan

Trout anglers across the county have united in opposition to Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) draft plans for the Great Western Lakes.

Around 80 people attended a meeting in Oughterard’s Lake Hotel last week to push back against the second draft long-term management plan for the Great Western Lakes.

Organised by the Lough Corrib Angling Federation, an affiliate organisation for eight angling clubs along the Corrib, the meeting heard from anglers angry about the IFI proposals, which they fear will turn it into a mixed fishery.

The new draft suggests limiting the current fishing season which goes from March to September. It also signals a reduction in the ‘bag limit’, the number of trout anglers can keep, from four to two.

Trout anglers have also interpreted the new IFI draft as keeping Bye Laws 809 and 806, which protect invasive species on the Corrib including predatory pike.

Don Stiffe, chair of Ballindiff Bay Anglers, (pictured) who was in attendance last Tuesday, said everyone at the meeting was “disappointed with the second drafting of the plan”.

“It didn’t seem to deal with the first public consultation where 80% of submissions wanted to get rid of 809 and 806 Bye Laws. That was not in the second draft.

“They still seem to want to conserve pike at a certain weight. The second draft talks about revisiting the Bye Law or maybe amending it but it wasn’t talking about getting rid of it,” said Mr Stiffe.

He said the feeling from the meeting was that IFI had ignored the submissions made during the initial public consultation.

“The whole meeting was in favour of not accepting the plan in its current format. People and the clubs will be writing to IFI about that,” he said.

“Are we going to have a managed salmonid fishery, or is it going to be some sort of mixed fishery? Are they still going to find a way of having pike as a marketable product on the Great Western Lakes? You can’t have both,” added Mr Stiffe.

Another angler in attendance at the meeting was Mike Donnellan of Oughterard Anglers Association.

He said the mood from the floor was that IFI should go back to the drawing board on this draft plan.

“They are not dealing with the substantive issues. They want to conserve non-native species in an SAC (Special Area of Conservation). They want that lake over time to become a mixed fishery,” he said.

“Basically they want it to become like the Shannon, or a version of the Shannon – mixed-fishery-lite. It would be slightly more towards trout, but they want to include everything, including pike. That’s basically what they are looking for.

“But the integrity of the SAC has to have primacy. There wasn’t a positive comment from the floor about the plan,” said Mr Donnellan.

He added the plan to reduce the catch from four to two will be resisted because it shifts the blame onto anglers.

Submissions to the plan can be made to IFI until the end of July.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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