THE SHANNON, Mulcair and District Anglers have accused the ESB of failing in their responsibility of protecting salmon stocks in the lower Shannon and Mulcair river systems.
They say poaching is rampant in the tailrace in Ardnacrusha, Newport, Pallasgreen, Cappamore and around Keeper Hill.
“It is with great regret that the majority of anglers feel betrayed and let down by the ESB. The apathy of the ESB to ensure efficient protection has now reached crisis point as the Mulcair river system heads towards closure.
“Anglers are being forced to accept further restrictions year on year as the poachers are free to net salmon; fish from boats on the Shannon which is illegal; spear salmon under lamp in the upper reaches of the Newport river and main Mulcair.
“The situation is so grave that individuals and groups of up to half a dozen have been witnessed illegally fishing with rod and line during the closed season. Protection is inefficient and many of our members would say ‘non-existent’,” reads the statement form the Shannon, Mulcair and District Anglers.
“Our club have and continue to highlight these issues with both the ESB and Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). The ESB currently have contracted the IFI to protect their waters but unfortunately the current level of protection is pathetic. While we do appreciate IFI resources are stretched – it is the ESB who must take responsibility for the current situation,” they add.
In response, the ESB said a partnership group, formed to address the practical concerns of the Mulcair angling clubs, consists of ESB, IFI, Mulcair Angling Club and Limerick & District Angling Club.
“This group meets before and after the season and has proven to be successful in the management of the Mulcair fishery. The most recent meeting took place on Tuesday, November 12 at which protection issues were extensively discussed.
“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. ESB also provides a boat for protection work on the tailrace and this boat is used by IFI and gardaí. ESB has spent considerable resources carrying out work on the Mulcair and lower Shannon rivers, including erecting of cattle fencing, installation of stiles and foot bridges, tree cutting and erection of signage. All of this work is aimed at improving access and facilitating angling,” said an ESB spokesperson. Specifically in relation to protection duties, ESB conducts regular reviews with IFI, they add.
“ESB is aware that IFI has employed additional staff to address seasonal demands in relation to protection requirements as well as using both covert and overt cameras. IFI has had a number of successful prosecutions over the last number of years. In this regard ESB and IFI continually request all anglers and Mulcair anglers in particular to report all suspicious activity immediately so that these incidents can be investigated. ESB welcomes the decision of the club to engage private water keepers and urge that these operate in conjunction with IFI to maximum effect,” they said. However, the anglers say the “current situation is wholly unacceptable”.
“We call on the ESB to act immediately and protect our dwindling salmon stocks, especially on the spawning beds of the Mulcair, so we can continue to enjoy our recreational angling and provide an amenity into the future – not to mention the enormous revenues directly and indirectly from tourism.”