Disabled anglers are being ignored and fishing industry is in crisis

PACEMAKER BELFAST   16/01/2015: The severe weather over the last few days has created dangerous conditions in several parts of Northern Ireland, especially for motorists and pedestrians.  Six Mile Water river pictured in Ballyclare, Northern Ireland.'Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 16/01/2015: The severe weather over the last few days has created dangerous conditions in several parts of Northern Ireland, especially for motorists and pedestrians. Six Mile Water river pictured in Ballyclare, Northern Ireland.'Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

Michael Martin of the Six Mile Water Trust has complained about how developers have allegedly caused difficulties for disabled anglers at Antrim, UAF chairman, Jim Haughey, thinks the DoE moves slowly and, down South, the EU Commissioner has been asked to help save Irish crisis-hit fishing industry.

Michael Martin of the Six Mile Water Trust has complained about developments at the river walk in Antrim. Indeed he alleges that a developer is destroying the river corridor at the disabled stand on the Six Mile Water at Kirbys’ Lane river walk in Antrim.

He has concerns, too, about another development for 400 houses on the flood plain and banks of the Six Mile Water downstream. Already Antrim has been flooded twice but still developers are allegedly causing hard surface run-off by building on river banks.

Michael says: “The area is home for otters, bats, badgers, kingfishers, salmon, dollaghan, crayfish, and many other protected species. A river corridor is an important area for biodiversity and is subject to conservation regulations. Surely this type of development is a contravention to EEC Water Framework and Habitats Directives. Antrim is surrounded by fields, why do planners have to develop the most ecologically important areas, the areas which give the town it’s character and provides a facility for walking, angling, bird watching, cycling, canoeing, etc.

“If planning decisions were made before the Water Framework Directive then why haven’t they been revised. No development should be allowed until this happens because developers are taking advantage of the situation and building houses over the most important environmental areas that are left.

“Please help to conserve our valuable wildlife habitat and recreational resource by doing what you can to assist in a resolution to this disgusting destruction of our countryside. Check out Antrim and District Angling Association and Six Mile Water Trust Facebook pages for more details.”

Ulster Angling Federation chairman Jim Haughey now believes that the wheels of action grind exceedingly slowly in the Department of the Environment.

Jim had been trying for seven months to get a reply from the DoE to his request for information on its position regarding sand dredging on Lough Neagh.

Jim said it appeared to him that DoE Minister Mark H Durkin had shown a complete lack of interest in the subject.

In fact Jim’s letters to the DoE had been sent after a complaint to the Environment Directorate of the EU.

The UAF’s original inquiry was sent to the DoE on February 9, 2014 and the UAF had to pressurise the Department for a reply which was received after 11 weeks.

Mr Durkan’s private secretary, Joanna replied thus: “Thank you for your email of April 13, 2015 regarding sand dredging. The Minister has read your correspondence and has asked me to reply.

“The Department instigated an enforcement investigation and wrote to the Lough Neagh Sand Traders in September 2014 requesting that they cease dredging until the unregulated activities on the Lough are resolved. The unauthorised extraction continued to take place and the Department is actively monitoring the situation and considering appropriate action.”

Anglers and those who get their water from Lough Neagh will probably take the view that is better late than never.

Sinn Féin’s Ireland South MEP Liadh Ní Riada has welcomed an agreed meeting with European Commissioner Karmenu Vella following a request by Ní Riada to discuss the negative state of Irish fisheries, the existential threats to the livelihoods of native fishermen and their marginalisation by the Dublin government and the EU compared to their counterparts from larger member states.

Ní Riada, who is the only Irish member of the EU Fisheries Committee, said: “I have consistently made clear the substantial contribution which Ireland makes to the EU economy in terms of the value of the fish taken by other member states from Irish waters.

“It is unacceptable that Irish fishermen operating in Irish waters are at a massive disadvantage in comparison to other European fishermen.

“The situation has reached a crisis point and unless we can come up with solutions, our fishermen will continue to suffer and decline.”

Dates and venues for stakeholder meetings (all with 7pm starts) are: Carlingford and Maine, May 11, Newcastle Centre; Upper Neagh Bann - May 14, Old Town Hall, Banbridge; May 20 -Lower Foyle, Roe Valley Hospital; May 21 - Strangford and Lecale, Market House, Ballynahinch; May 26 - Belfast Lough and Lagan, Mossley Mill, Newtownabbey; Lough Neagh Bann, Randalstown Arches, Community Centre; June 9 -Upper Foyle - Hospital Road Community Centre, Omagh.

The Cohannon Inn meeting was useful but more light needs to be shed on the mystery of the roach and perch in Lough Brantry. Perhaps it will happen at a new meeting between anglers’ representatrives, DCAL and the experts.

It is clear from the AFBI report commissioned by DCAL Minister Caral Ni Chuilin, that much more needs to be done to restore Brantry to something like the great trout lake it once was.

The AFBI report said it was not possible to shed any light on the possible mechanism by which perch and roach reached Brantry other than that the movement of fish by human activity was the most likely route.

It said the surrounding drainage and lack of linkage by water with other roach and perch sites made natural colonisation from adjacent waters unlikely. It said that at the time of the survey (last November) the fish community of Brantry was numerically dominated by roach which were previously unrecorded.

Fish up to 15lb have been moving up the Cork Blackwater. The first May fish was taken on Friday on the Blackwater Lodge section of the river. Damien Maher, Roscrea, was one of the few rods out that day when he caught a fresh run fish of 10lb on a Flying C at Kents on the lower river.

Blackwater Lodge proprietor Ian Powell tells me that an angler fishing about six miles above Mallow saw well over a dozen fish to 15lb. He lost one of 10lb at the net. Big fish were also reported at Kilmurry on the lower river.This bodes well for prospects in the coming days.

At Craigmore David Moore had 30 trout to 7lb on lures and dries. Steven Alison had 30 to 6lb on mixed lures, buzzers and dries.

Other catches were: Michael Wakeland, 14 to 6 lb; Billy Ayre, 14 to 5lb; Sharon McCurdy, 14 ; Jim Magill, 18; Tommy Spence, 14 to 6lb; Ernie Kirkpatrick, 17; Billy Todd, 12 to 5lb; Leslie Beggs, 19 to 6lb; James Harper,10; Clive Moore, 11 to 8lb; Nathan Young, 10; Colin McQuigan, Philip Martin and John Hughes, nine. Tommy Wharry and William Smith had tagged fish worth £25. Jim Simpson had a trout of 5lb, David North, two at 4lb 10 oz and Paul Armstrong, one at 4lb. Maurice Andeson had one at 4lb, John Bailey one at 5lb 10 oz. John Carson, three at 4lb, Andy Morrow, one at 5lb 10oz, Shane Douglas and Pat Smith, 6lb, Michael Gallagher, one at 4lb 12 oz, David Walker, six at 3lb 5oz, Michael Booth, one at 5lb and Mark McWilliams, one at 7lb and two at 5lb.

At Cashel fly fishing conditions are excellent with an abundance of fly life around in spite of the blustery conditions. John Gerard Donaghy, Dungiven, released two trout which took the Montana nymph. Daniel O’Reilly had two at 5lb and released five which took a green/white nymph. Shaun McIntyre, Derry, released seven and Stephen Gurney, Limavady, had two for home at 6lb and released five. Aidy Askin, Derry, released five and Brian Duffy, Ballykelly, had two.

Well, at long last we have had some good news about the promotion of angling in Northern Ireland.

Gary Lavery tells me he has been appointed active clubs development officer for the angling governing bodies.

He said: “As the new AACO for the governing bodies of angling in Northern Ireland (Ulster Angling Federation and National Coarse Fishing Federation Ireland Ulster Branch) supported by Sport NI and Outdoor Recreation NI, I am looking forward to my new role of supporting and working with all the angling clubs in Northern Ireland.

“Angling in Northern Ireland is a hugely popular sport and there are a lot of challenges that lie ahead that I believe, with the experience I bring to the post having worked in sports development and club development for the past 20 years, I can help the governing bodies, angling clubs and anglers.

“One of the key areas of my initial focus in the next six months will be to get out and meet with the angling clubs and organisations which are keen to move forward and introduce new members to their club – in particular young male and female members.

“As Active Clubs Officer I will be supporting all angling clubs and their officers with advice, information, and guidance and will be helping to identify and deliver training and programmes to make angling clubs even stronger by facilitating accessible and sustainable participation opportunities through clubs.

“If your angling club would like to arrange a meeting or if there is any information or guidance I can help you with, I can be contacted on email: gary@anglingni.com by Mobile: 07718300302, at Office: 02838891122 on Twitter: @anglingni or at www.anglingni.com.”

Gary is stationed at Loughgall Country Park, 11-14 Main Street, Loughgall, Co Armagh, BT61 8HZ.

The Loughs Agency is offering five lucky applicants the opportunity to sail between Dun Laoghaire and Carlingford Lough from Monday, May 18 to the following Friday. Five from Northern Ireland will be joining five from the Republic. They will be chosen during the week so applications should be with the Agency as soon as possible.

Participants aged 18-24 should be able-bodied and prepared to sleep in a relatively small space with limited washing facilities.

On board, participants will have the opportunity to assist with all aspects of life at sea including cleaning, cooking, helming and changing sails. No previous sailing experience is required.

Sea Connections is a new cross-border youth development initiative led by the Atlantic Youth Trust in partnership with Sail Training Ireland, Ocean Youth Trust Ireland, and the Spirit of Oysterhaven.

Each voyage will take 10 young people, five from Northern Ireland and five from the Republic for five days on a fully certified, professionally managed, 70 foot sailing schooner.