NASF chalks up another key victory

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The North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF) is supporting the Esk district salmon fishery board and the Dee district board in a new initiative to help safeguard Atlantic salmon stocks for future generations in Scotland.

So welcome is the news that Ulster Angling Federation chairman, Jim Haughey has congratulated Iceland‘s Orri Vigfusson on another notable success for NASF. Among its other achievements NASF completed salmon fishery buy-outs in Northern Ireland, England, Wales and France between 2008 and 2012 and did a lot to end drift netting in the North Sea.

Now, by agreeing an annual lease of the salmon netting station at Lauriston on Scotland’s east coast they are able to stop netting operations with immediate effect for the whole of 2015. Salmon and sea trout that would otherwise have been harvested by commercial netting will, instead, be given free passage to their spawning grounds.

This direct action will help safeguard salmon stocks which primarily run the Dee but also the North Esk, South Esk and the Spey.

Stopping the indiscriminate netting of wild salmon destined for numerous rivers is a vital step in the overall conservation of Scotland’s salmon population. The North Atlantic Salmon Fund hopes that this will demonstrate to the Scottish Government that far more could be done beyond its proposed ‘licence to kill’ legislation (expected to come into force next season) to halt the rapid decline in salmon numbers.

Orri Vigfusson,founder of the NASF, said: “In the absence of other regulatory measures a voluntary agreement like this is needed to protect the wild salmon. However, we hope that governments around the North Atlantic can come together to do all they can to protect this species under serious threat.

“We have proved time and time again that good relationships with commercial netsmen can be made and mutually beneficial agreements reached. This is a simple, winning formula all-round – especially for salmon.”

Mark Bilsby, River Director at the Dee district salmon fishery board, said: “When fish stocks are threatened it is really good that different groups from across Scotland and further afield can work together to help protect this iconic species. In helping the fish to survive, it will also help sustain the rural economy and protect the many jobs connected with salmon fishing.”

This latest initiative marks an important milestone for NASF which strives to protect the Atlantic salmon globally. Every conservation measure which is put in place will mean that Scotland’s salmon will have a much better chance of making it back to their home rivers to spawn and ensure natural regeneration of the species.

What could well be the next big problem to be tackled by NASF is the carnage in the Atlantic feeding grounds. In last week‘s article you would have read about the abysmal return of smolts going out from the River Bush in North Antrim. Senior fisheries officer John Kane told me the return was abysmal. A total of 29,000 smolts left the Bush this year but what the return will be is anyone’s guess,

The sooner we know how and why smolts from these islands are disappearing, the better. The loss could be due to over exploitation, too much of the salmons’ food being taken away by industrial interests or natural predation. The food chain has diminished greatly in recent years, meaning that salmon have to travel much further North to eke out an existence.

In next week‘s article, the Atlantic Salmon Trust‘s Tony Andrews issues a call to arms to save our salmon. Tony calls for action to save more of our smolts at sea, to reduce marine mortality in general and to construct a ‘firewall’ between wild and farmed salmon,

At Craigmore stormy, unsettled weather again put the fish down. Pawal Sinicia had 27 trout to 5lb on mixed dries and buzzers. Michael McWilliams had 26 to 5lb on dries and lures. Sean McKnight had 18 to 6lb on lures and bloodworm and a tagged fish netting him £25.

Other catches were: David McLaughlin, 16 to 6lb; Kenny Smallwoods, 10 to 6lb; Keith Henry, 14 to 7lb; Harry Moffat, 17 to 5lb; Gareth Hadden, 14 to 6lb; Sammy McConaughty, 11; Christopher Austin, 17 to 8lb; Mark Telford, 14 to 5lb; Maurice Anderson, 14; Robert Mackie; 12; Malcolm Reagan, 12; Alan Temple, 14 to 8lb; Hugh Adams,15 to 6lb; James Harper, 23; Alan Strain, 17 to 6lb; Mark Murray, 16 to 7lb; Philip Neill, 11 to 6lb; Billy Magill, nine to 8lb; Philip Maine, eight to 10 lb; Jim Simpson, eight to 5lb; Mervyn Montgomery, six to 10lb; John Hughes, 5lb 10 oz; Davy Stitt, 6lb; Tommy Wharry, 4lb; Martin McKenna, 6lb and 5lb; Matt Stranaghan, 6lb 11oz; Jim Magill and Cecil Storey, both 4lb; John Dixon, 5lb; Paddy McGarvey, 6lb; Brian Atkinson,12lb; Martin Foster and Ernie Kirpatrick, both 8lb; Mark Hanna, seven to 5lb 6oz. Chris Martin and Jim Patterson, both 4lb.

On the Cork Blackwater Dan O’Keeffe had the best fish of the season so far when he caught a 14 pounder on prawn at the Lug pool on Lower Kilmurry on Monday. A day later Cyril Killeen had another 14 pound fish, taken on spinner; also at the Lug Pool on Lower Kilmurry.

On Sunday, Kieran Conlon had a fish of 8lb on fly and lost two. A total of 18 were caught on Blackwater Lodge waters in the first week of the month.

Irish Angling reported that 19 salmon to 19lb were caught in one week on the ESB Fishery on the River Lee. A total of 216 salmon were reported for the week from the River Moy.

To say that anglers in Tyrone are not happy about the state of the once great Brantry Lough would be an understatement. Tommy Conlon tells me that recent stockings did not help matters very much with only undersized trout paying attention to anything anglers offered them.

Tommy said: “Since the great fish kill the lough has been stocked three times with brown trout and fishing since has been disastrous.

“It is so bad that anglers are walking away and it is clear to me that the massive head of coarse fish in Brantry are causing the problem. I visit Brantry every day and meet anglers from all over the province.

“They are angry that they have not been told by DCAL officials about the coarse fish in the lough. DCAL is to put barley straw into Brantry to help counter the algae problem and I understand that plans are afoot to deal with the coarse fish problem.”

Tommy gave me a hint that something may be done to provide anglers with an alternative water where they might have a chance to catch better trout,

Tommy is a fount of knowledge about fishing matters. He can be contacted at 21 Mullaghmore Park, Dungannon or by phone on 02887722899.

The Loughs Agency has invited interested parties to apply for a licence to fish the 2015/2016 Native Oyster fishery. Applicants will be required to submit a completed application form and supporting documentation to LA headquarters at 22 Victoria Rd, Derry on or before Friday, July 31. The licence fee will be £150 or €166. No late applications will be accepted.

This week the Loughs Agency picked up an award in the ‘Employability Champion’ category in the Northern Ireland Responsible Business Awards 2015.

The Agency was recognised as the organisation that best supports unemployed people by addressing employment across Northern Ireland through a wide range of initiatives. The judges stated it had demonstrated excellence in motivating and developing employees in a healthy and inclusive workplace which offers opportunities for all.

John Pollock, Loughs Agency said: “I’m delighted to collect this Award on behalf of all the staff at Loughs Agency in recognition of the commitment we have made to giving others the opportunity to improve their work experience, skills and knowledge leading to improved employability.”