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Trout anglers slam IFI stock management blueprint

Inland Fisheries Ireland’s (IFI) stock management plan for 2024 has been slammed as ‘contradictory’ by trout anglers who claim it will conserve the status of non-native species such as pike in Lough Corrib SAC.

IFI’s Screen for Appropriate Assessment Lough Corrib Stock Management Plan 2024 on the one hand noted that pike are non-native, invasive, predatory and need to be managed to control their impact on native salmonids such as trout and salmon.

But on the other hand, IFI’s document – released under Access to Information on Environment – stated that pike above 85cm should be released.

The document, obtained by Oughterard trout angler and campaigner, Mike Donnellan, suggested that “any Irish watercourses that regularly produces pike in excess of one metre in length should be actively promoted by IFI and Fáilte Ireland as a specimen pike fishing venue”.

Trout anglers on Lough Corrib SAC believe that this proves IFI has a policy of trying to promote pike fishing on the Corrib.

IFI’s policy stated that “a greater marketing effort should be focused on pike angling to fully exploit the socio-economic potential of this species in Ireland”.

By not taking pike of over 85cm in length out of the Corrib, IFI was “totally at odds with the Habitats Directive”, Mr Donnellan said.

In addition to this stock management plan, the trout anglers said that non-native pike remained protected under bye-laws within the Corrib.

This is despite the same document by IFI saying the control of pike was necessary on Corrib to maintain its integrity as an SAC.

“This is the idea of a mixed fishery model. This is a policy to market Lough Corrib and to maintain large, specimen size pike on Lough Corrib. It’s like saying Japanese Knotweed is an invasive species. We will take out that bit of Japanese Knotweed, it’s small.

“But we will leave that big piece of Japanese Knotweed. Either they’re a problem or they are not. It’s like they’re going around taking out Japanese Knotweed, but someone is coming behind them and spreading Japanese Knotweed seeds,” said Mr Donnellan.

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan (pictured) previously told Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell in a Dáil reply, that there was no policy, latent or otherwise, within his Department of IFI, “to legitimise the introduction of any non-native, invasive freshwater fish species anywhere in the state”.

He said he was concerned by the threat posed by the presence and spread of non-native species and the impact they pose to native fish species and ecosystems.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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