The waterways of Connemara are the last refuge of the wild brown trout in Ireland – and local anglers are determined to save it from invasive species.
More than 300 people, who turned out at a meeting in the Boat Inn in Oughterard last Thursday, pledged to fight plans for new byelaws they feel could sink trout angling in the area.
Fishermen from Cork, Kerry and Donegal told local anglers how they faced a similar predicament 25 years ago.
“Like Ross Lake in Moycullen, there is no trout left there and it’s the same around the country. We’re determined that that isn’t going to happen here. It’s a battle,” said Mike Donnellan of Oughterard Anglers and Boatmen Association.
Mr Donnellan and his colleagues in the association, Gareth Little and Mike Faherty, both gave presentations at the meeting about how Byelaw 806, proposed by Inland Fisheries Ireland, could irrevocably damage trout fishing in Galway.
Connemara is renowned worldwide for its trout fishing and it sustains hundreds of jobs through tourism in the region. However, if the byelaw is passed, local anglers fear that invasive species, tench and bream, could be introduced to salmonoid waterways, which would eradicate the native trout.
Under the bye-laws it would still be illegal for tench or bream to be introduced into Galway’s trout lakes. But, if the bye-laws passed, and if coarse fish were illegally introduced into the waterways, perversely it would not be legal to remove them.
“Trout do best when they’re the only species. They thrive when they have more room and when they have more food. Once you start putting in coarse fish, like pike or tench or bream, the trout over time will become marginalised. And once they’re gone, you can’t bring them back,” said Mr Donnellan.
■ For more on this story see the print edition of the Connacht Tribune.
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