Minister vows that Salmon Weir will not be leased

Eye of the storm...Inland Fisheries Ireland CEO Dr Ciaran Byrne and Minister Sean Kyne.

The Minister of State with responsibility for Natural Resources, Seán Kyne, insists he is “absolutely not” in favour of leasing Galway’s Salmon Weir to a private entity.

A proposal to lease the famous fishery – revealed in last week’s Connacht Tribune – was made by CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland, Ciaran Byrne, as part of an ongoing rationalisation policy at the State body.

The leasing arrangement, however, was ruled out by the Board of IFI, who appear at loggerheads with Mr Byrne over a number of issues, including the proposed sale of Cong hatchery, and a planned public consultation process into the future of Salmon Weir.

Minister Kyne this week moved to clarify that the option of leasing of Salmon Weir, put forward by Mr Byrne, is “not on the table”.

Speaking to the Tribune, Minister Kyne said: “The CEO came to the Board of IFI, and brought proposals. There were three proposals in relation to Salmon Weir. One was to do nothing, leave it as it is. Two was to consider a lease. And three was to make the Weir cost neutral.

“The board threw out any prospect of a lease. The board didn’t consider it in any detail or any discussion, they just said ‘no, absolutely not’. This is the issue – there is a divergence in what the CEO proposed and what the board agreed, and there’s a little bit of agro at the moment, in my view between the CEO and the board. The CEO is considering a lot of things, and the board is finding out second-hand and in some cases, totally disagree with.”

Asked for his view on the leasing proposal, Minister Kyne said: “It had nothing to do with me. The CEO made a proposal. It’s not on the table . . . The board has recommended one thing, which is to make the Weir cost-neutral. End of story. Cost neutral, which probably means increasing the fees, that’s about it.”

In a raised voice, Minister Kyne added: “Leasing is not being considered. Sale was absolutely never considered. I am being as strong as I can be on that. The board are not considering leasing and they did not recommend sale. I don’t agree, obviously, and the board didn’t agree and that’s why it was thrown out. It is just making the fishery cost neutral.”

When asked what making the weir cost neutral actually means, Minister Kyne said that “activities cover the cost”. It was “most likely” fees will go up next year but by how much hasn’t been finalised, he said.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.