POACHERS are decimating Atlantic salmon stocks on the Mulcair every day of the week say the Shannon, Mulcair and District Anglers.
They say it is happening up and down the river but especially at Ballyclough weir, where it is like “shooting fish in a barrel”.
“There is a gang of up to 10 men standing on top of that weir and they are stroke hauling fish everyday. This involves dragging a large treble hook across the base of the weir to foul hook salmon and seriously damage others by removing large chunks of flesh on fish that break free,” said a spokesperson on behalf of the angling group.
Due to the continuous high water there is a fish run happening at the moment. The salmon will spawn later in the year so the poachers are not just killing one salmon, they are destroying its progeny.
Ballyclough weir is the perfect location for poachers as stones from the original weir have broken away and the fish are channelled through a narrow gap.
“There are reports coming back to the club from anglers that the poachers are getting 20 fish a day,” said the spokesperson.
The Shannon, Mulcair and District Anglers are calling on Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) to carry out modifications to the weir, which they say they were told would take place.
“This would facilitate the safe passage of salmon throughout this area and not through the one gap. We have recently been informed that this work has been deferred and no new commencement date has yet been given,” said the spokesperson.
They are also calling for full-time protection by IFI staff until such time as modifications are made to the weir.
“It is time to put a stop to this illegal activity at this weir and other locations on both the Shannon and Mulcair systems,” they said.
Last July the Limerick Leader reported that poachers were putting planks of wood across the gap at Ballyclough weir to block the fish. The IFI said at the time they were aware of the situation and their inspectors were monitoring it.
Under the Fisheries Act fines can run in to thousands of euros. They appealed to the public if they see any poaching to contact their 24 hour number 1890 347424.