PUBLIC STATEMENT : Sea Fisheries Advisory Group (SFAG), Irish Seal Sanctuary (ISS)
LET THE RIVERS RUN FREE.
Retired Irish Salmon Fisherman and Chair ISS/SFAG Patsy Peril goes to annual North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) meeting in Bonn, Germany . Full program and agenda on NASCO website www.nasco.int Patsy is on a very special, last ditch mission to save the wild Atlantic Salmon in Ireland and beyond : release the headwaters of rivers, to return to their natural courses ; and mitigate flooding.
PATSY’S PLAN…….A Brave Experiment:
* Closure of Salmon rivers for fishing of wild fish for entire Western Seaboard of Europe for 10 years. Eastern seaboard of Americas will do business as usual and results can be compared. The Atlantic is divided E. to W. by different Management regimes.
* Closure of hatcheries and end to smolt production .
* Improve efficiency of fish passes for returning fish.
* Selectively and progressively fish out ranch fish, aquaculture escapees and hybrids.
* Remove non-productive power stations and dams no longer economic or fit for purpose and restore natural river courses and flows, thus mitigating flooding.
EXAMPLE: In Ireland Parteen Weir could be first to go; releasing the Shannon; facilitating return of salmon, if enough wild fish remaining ; re-wilding and mitigating floods throughout the Shannon Basin.
Patsy has witnessed the virtual extinction of Atlantic Salmon in Irish rivers. He remembers salmon runs on his beloved Shannon, when you could “cross the river on the backs of salmon.”
Patsy was chair of the Drift and Draft Netsmens Association ; member of the National Salmon Commission 2000-2005 , which failed to address catastrophic decline. The primary source of wipe-out was indiscriminate drift-netting at sea over 30 years and 2006 was the last season of drift-netting. A decade later , there are no positive results !
Necessary action was not taken in time and wild Atlantic Salmon may be doomed beyond recovery, in most Irish rivers, unless a last concerted effort be made.
Patsy, representing ISS/SFAG goes to NASCO, with a daring plan, drawn on his lifetime’s experience of salmon and the mighty Shannon.
Current poor river population figures for salmon mask an even bleaker prospect for the wild fish and danger to what wild population remains. The % of wild fish in catch composition are in the low single figures, the balance being of hatchery origin, ranched or escapees from proliferating sea cages, left free to wreak havoc among wild fish and their ecosystem. Proliferating sea lice exacerbate the problem for the struggling wild fish and cause huge mortality among smolts . The stock figures low as they are, represent false positives for population estimates and false prospects for recovery of wild fish.
NASCO identified many of these problems , many years ago and was established to bring together North Atlantic stakeholders, to save the Atlantic Salmon. NASCO too has failed and the many brave efforts of seasoned salmon experts like Patsy, have been frustrated by lack of support from the range states. Only the most daring effort now has a chance of success and a strong voice must come from NASCO.
To persist with discredited river management, flood abatement, salmon ranching and sea cages is to exterminate the wild Atlantic Salmon and remain cursed by flooding . Future generations will not forgive us, if we fail to act now.
The French and others are considering such actions of major infrastructure reform and Patsy will engage with them at NASCO in this daring proposal.
This plan will test the commitment, “bona fides” and integrity of the Irish authorities, agencies, riparian and fisheries interests if truly intent on saving Atlantic Salmon in Ireland.
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