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Good news for Ribble salmon stocks

[Friday 03 November 2006]
Good news for Ribble Salmon
Photo: Cefas/Defra

SALMON fishermen on the River Ribble and other rivers which flow into the Irish Sea were celebrating an end-of-season bonus this weekend after an announcement that the Irish Government is to ban driftnet fishing at sea for the so-called King of Fish.

As we reported last week (See a Week in the Country) salmon stocks in many Yorkshire Dales rivers like the Ribble, Lune and Kent have fallen so low that anglers have voluntarily restricted their catches to three fish a season.

But such action inland has had little effect on the drastic drop in catches since the Irish started fishing at sea with nylon drift nets that can be more than 10 miles long. The Dublin Government admits that these boats take at least 60,000 fish a year but this is probably a huge under-estimate, as many of the fishermen fail to report their catches.

Our countryside commentator John Sheard, who covered Ireland as a journalist for six years at the end of the 1960s - and who spent most of his holidays fishing in the West of the country - comments:

"This is very good news but it is a shame it came so late. Forty years ago I was reporting on Irish drifters taking huge catches of salmon and not even landing them in Ireland: they sold them at sea to Russian trawlers they met in international waters.

This is very good news but it is a shame it came so

John Sheard - Daelnet commentator

"Ironically, the first people to suffer were people in the tourist industry in the West of Ireland, where salmon fishing was a major source of income. But these driftnets came close to wiping out salmon runs not just there but in Britain, France, Spain and even the Rhine.

"Fish returning to spawn from their feeding grounds off Greenland have to pass through Irish waters either to the West or the North and they were being slaughtered 40 years ago thanks to the invention of light-weight nylon nets. Two small trawlers could two ten or eleven miles of net between them."

  • Good news for the salmon, sadly, was marred by bad news about the cod and other sea species. A report by American scientists issued on Friday claims that the world's oceans will be fished-out by 2050 unless industrial-scale over-fishing is controlled.

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