New Brunswick leads the way in salmon conservation

Martin Smyth with his 11lb trout from the Royal Canal at Enfield.
Martin Smyth with his 11lb trout from the Royal Canal at Enfield.
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New Brunswick in Nova Scotia is taking positive action to save the Atlantic salmon.

Fisheries Minister Gail Shea has ordered that all salmon caught in the Maritimes should be released.

Under new conservation measures anglers will not be allowed to keep any Atlantic salmon caught in the Maritimes in 2015.

The conservation measure was announced on Tuesday by Mr Shea in response to dwindling salmon numbers.

The no-retention policy has already been in place on some parts of New Brunswick’s Miramichi river system and in Prince Edward Island.

Tuesday’s announcement extends the measure to all New Brunswick and Nova Scotia waters where salmon angling was permitted.

Fishing for salmon will still be allowed, but any fish caught must be released.

The conservation measure was supported by the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the New Brunswick Salmon Council, the Nova Scotia Salmon Association, and the Miramichi Salmon Association, which petitioned the minister for a one-year moratorium on the provision of salmon tags.

In 2014, the number of salmon returning to the Miramichi was about 12,000, which is half the number recorded annually over the previous three years.

In the first 10 years of this century, about 53,000 salmon returned to the Miramichi annually. In the 1990s, the number returning to spawn was about 82,000.

“These are frightening numbers,” Miramichi Salmon Association chairman David Wilson said when the 2014 salmon counts were released last September.

Mr Shea’s office says the number of Atlantic salmon at sea has dropped 69 per cent over the last 42 years, from about 1.7 million in the mid-1970s to an estimated 600,000 fish now.

The stark drop in salmon numbers led the Minister to announce the creation of a ministerial advisory committee on Atlantic salmon in March. The implementation of a Maritime-wide catch-and-release policy for 2015 stems from the advisory committee’s first series of recommendations.

At home it will be recalled that on March 1 CEO John Pollock signed a declaration suspending netting in the River Foyle, Lough Foyle and seaward of Lough Foyle and restricting angling in the River Finn to catch and release.

The basis for the declaration was that the number of salmon travelling upstream of the River Finn Fish counter during the past five years did not exceed 5,410 as stipulated by the Foyle Area (Control of Fishing) Regulations 2010.

Meanwhile, to celebrate Easter and the return and rebirth of much of its wildlife during Spring, Riverwatch held a springtime angling and environment event over the course of three days during Easter week when members of the public were invited to join in a variety of themed activities.

On Wednesday Riverwatch hosted arts and crafts workshops where visitors were encouraged to create spring themed art using its aquariums, ponds, woodland area as well as the mighty Foyle as inspiration for their art.

There were also a number of nature trail and scavenger hunt activities, magic wands, birds’ nests and learning about the fish, birds, insects and plant life found in the Foyle area. River and pond life and marine creatures were on display.

On Thursday Riverwatch hosted an angling taster day where members of the public learned how to fly cast, fly tie and to fish on the special angling pond.

There were opportunities to achieve CAST Level 1 with expert angling instructors and to learn the correct techniques for catch and release.  

Yesterday was a marine themed day where the trailer touch tank was set up for guests to get a closer look at some of the species of crabs, starfish and fish that live in Lough Foyle and around the coast.

At Ballisodare fishing club in Co Sligo, William Rainey and Clive O’Neill had fish of 9lb and 8lb 8oz on the worm. Other successful anglers were Chris Kitchen, 6lb, and Denis Crawley 9lb, on fly.

At Craigmore activity was fast and furious with non stop catches on Thursday to Sunday. John Brown lost count at over 70 fish to 7lb on buzzers. Keith Henry had 44 on buzzers and won an Easter egg. Alan Temple had 33 to 5lb. Jim Magill had 25 to 4lb and Billy Todd 35 to 5lb on dries and buzzers.

Other caches were: Steven Alison, 35 ; Billy Hazlett, 29; Leslie Beggs, 22; Jim Simpson, 20; John Hughes, 25; Matt McClean, 20; Sandy Dorian, 27; Clive Moore, 20; Matt Stranaghan, 25; Harry Moffat, 22; Paul Armstrong, 22; Sam Proctor,16; Tom Hobson,18; Davy Couples, 12; Jason McClean 17; Paul Smith, 16 including a tagged fish netting him £25; Jim McClean 16; Ricky Stewart, 12; Tommy McCrubb, 12; Martin Allen, 14; James Harper,11; John Carson,11; Martin Foster, seven to 7lb; Quentin McCurdy, eight; Ruth Ardell, four; Sharon McCurdy, 3lb.

March was the best month since 2006 on Blackwater Lodge section of the Cork Blackwater. In spite of fluctuating water levels nine fish to 10lb were caught for the month - four from the lower river and five from the upper.

The average height on the Ballyduff gauge for the month was 0.89m. The 10 were caught on spinner as the river barely dropped to fly height at all for the entire month.

On St Patrick’s Day the Lodge had both the best day of the season so far and also the first day that one angler landed two fish in one day.

While not many fish showing, springers were present in the river well into the upper reaches above Mallow.

The Lodge’s first fly-caught springer was landed on Friday of last week at Bridgetown Priory by David Walsh, Mallow. The 7lb 3oz fish fell to a cone-head Cascade tube fished on a super-fast sinking tip.

Myles Kelly says in his Irish Angling update heavy rain last week brought some good fresh salmon into the River Slaney and some good catches were made.  It was a very quiet week on most of the rivers in the Cork/Kerry area with a few nice salmon the River Lee where fish to 13 lb. were taken on spinner and fly.  On the same river, Paul Lawton had a specimen salmon of 22lb fishing a prawn. It was another good week on Lough Currane with consistent salmon fishing on most days with salmon to 13 lb. taken on fly.  Three salmon were reported from Lough Melvin.

It was a very rough week for anglers fishing on Lough Sheelin but there were some opportunities on some days and Dr. Martin O’Grady recently retired Biologist from Inland Fisheries Ireland used a sunk line and a sooty olive to catch the biggest trout of the week, at 5lb 8oz along with another trout of 3lb 8oz

Myles says there was excellent duckfly fishing from Loughs Corrib and Mask. ACI hosted an awards ceremony in Dublin for all the Irish anglers who fished for Ireland in the past year in International championships abroad in freshwater and at sea. 

Steven Neely reports that he had a great day out lure fishing on a small water catching many pike and perch on lures. 

Martin Smyth was fishing for pike on the Royal Canal near Enfield using deadbait and was surprised to catch an 11 lb trout which he photographed and returned to the Canal. 

Q-Validus has secured 370,000 euro funding as part of the Horizon 2020 aquaculture project. The Irish company is to develop fish farm analytics standards as part of a 3.1m euro project. In Dublin Q-Validus, a certification standards company, said it had secured 370,000 euro in funding, over two years, as part of a 3.1m euro AquaSmart project being funded through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Programme.

The focus of the AquaSmart project is to enhance the innovation capacity within the aquaculture sector by helping companies to transform captured data into knowledge, and by sharing this knowledge to improve efficiency, increase profitability and carry out business in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way. Q-Validus is headquartered at NexusUCD, the Industry Partnership Centre, at University College Dublin.