Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) are investigating a reported fish kill on the Drumcliffe River on Monday, July, 11 at Hudson’s Bridge, an area known to local anglers as the Lurgan.
The IFI told the Leitrim Observer that on their arrival to the site last week, a large number of dead wild Atlantic salmon were observed in a pool downstream of the bridge. There was no evidence of any pollutant having entered the river or any other obvious cause for the moralities.
Water samples were taken for analysis and a spokesman for IFI said it was unlikely that any problem with water quality would be detected. Large numbers of healthy juvenile fish and invertebrates were observed in the area where the dead salmon were recorded.
The salmon ranged in weight from 4 to 8 lbs and a total of 21 were removed and examined. The fish, which were not net marked, were in excellent condition with no apparent evidence of disease, injury or decomposition.
Based on the condition of the salmon, the Inland Fisheries personnel were satisfied that these were wild Atlantic salmon and were also of the view that the salmon had probably been stored in a freezer.
Examination of the mouths clearly indicated that, in a number of cases, the fish were most likely to have been rod caught as there was clear evidence of what appeared to be hook marks on a number of the salmon.
A spokesman for Inland Fisheries told the paper, he was confident that the dead salmon were not typical of Drumcliffe salmon and was of the view that they had been caught elsewhere, possibly the Bonet system and had been dumped at this picturesque location.
The Bonet River rises in Glenade Lough, Co Leitrim and flows past Manorhamilton and Dromahair into Lough Gill.
The rationale for this act is not clear, but the IFI believe it is almost certainly related to infringements to the Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Regulations which requires that all wild salmon must be tagged.
Salmon stocks in the Drumcliffe and Bonet systems are struggling to achieve their respective conservation limits, the number of salmon required to spawn to maintain a viable population.
As such, restrictions are in place to limit the number which can be killed by anglers and all salmon killed on either system must be gill tagged with both a blue tag and an appropriate brown tag.
According to the Fisheries, “the fact that some ‘angler’ would have so little regard for this protected fish to kill so many and then dump them cannot be explained.”
Also, to choose an area which is regularly frequented by tourists stopping on their way to Glencar Lake is also a cause for concern.
Genuine anglers that are adhering to the very strict tagging regulations were shocked and very annoyed at what happened and one angler was quoted “ it’s a disgrace and the person responsible should be banned from fishing for life.”
Inland Fisheries Ireland is seeking information in relation to this incident and any information can be given in confidence to IFI Ballina at (096) 22788 or to any of the local IFI staff. To report pollution or poaching 24 hours a day phone 1890 34 74 24.