Mulcair and District Anglers Club say Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) have “banned” gardai from the lower Shannon at a time when poaching is rife and salmon stocks are in crisis.
The Limerick Leader has learned that a complaint was made by the IFI in late November to gardai about their presence on the water as it was “interfering with operations”.
The ESB provides the boat for protection work on the tailrace to the IFI and gardai.
An ESB spokesperson said: “ESB Fisheries Conservation staff do appreciate the help, expertise and resources of the local guards.”
There was no reply to a query to the IFI at the time of going to press.
Neville Atkinson, secretary Mulcair and District Anglers Club, said: “This (no gardai) can only mean less protection and so reduce salmon stocks further.”
The club have called on the ESB to take immediate action regarding salmon conservation and protection on both the lower Shannon and Mulcair systems “before it is too late to save our salmon”.
In 2007 the Mulcair was one of the top five salmon rivers in the country.
“The IFI have just announced that licenced anglers may only keep one salmon this year - the brown tag scheme - with the strong possibility of closing the Mulcair for salmon angling next year. During this period the commercial drift netting licences were bought out thus greatly increasing the number of fish entering the river,” said Mr Atkinson.
The club calls on the ESB to employ designated personnel dedicated to both the lower Shannon and the Mulcair.
“Without proper protection our native salmon will no longer exist in the Shannon and Mulcair rivers resulting in a serious blow to angling, tourism and the rural community.
“Our anglers club have spent €8,000 on experienced water keepers over the past two years to help protect our salmon, we can’t afford to do it this year,” said Mr Atkinson.
An ESB spokesperson says they have a designated fisheries unit devoted to fisheries management and conservation, who undertake their role in a very serious manner.
“The conservation of fish stocks is an absolute priority and if the Mulcair salmon stocks continue to decline then the recreational fishery will be closed.
The Department of Communication, Energy and Natural Resources, advised by the National Standing Scientific Committee for salmon, ensure that this process is adhered to.
However, the recreational rod catch quota for the Mulkear river has been set for the 2014 season and this is being managed by IFI.
“ESB has contracted IFI to carry out protection duties as they are best placed to provide this service being the state agency charged with the protection of inland fisheries.”