Concern has arisen amongst fishermen & Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) as so far, 65 farmed salmon have been caught in five rivers.
The affected rivers are Delphi, Erriff, Kylemore/Dawros, Newport and Bunowen.
Inland Fisheries Ireland have confirmed that 65 farmed salmon have been caught in five rivers in Galway and Mayo. The affected rivers are Delphi, Erriff, Kylemore/Dawros, Newport and Bunowen.
Concerns regarding salmon farm management has also heightened as, at this point, no escapes have been reported to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (the licensing authority).
Salmon farm owners are obliged, as one of the conditions of the license to operate, to report all escapes to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The Department has confirmed to IFI that no such report has been received. The scale of the escape is not fully understood at this time as the majority of fish were caught by anglers. Fisheries staff are analysing captured fish in an attempt to establish their history and age from which the outcome will assist in understanding the risks to our wild salmon stocks.
Of those first fish examined, three males (out of six) were mature on capture and had the potential to spawn in the wild and impact the genetic integrity of native salmon stock.
All fish entering the Erriff are monitored in an upstream trap allowing for the removal of farmed fish. Unfortunately, there are no such trapping facilities available on the other systems, resulting in free access to these catchments.
While fisheries staff continue to monitor the situation it will be difficult to fully assess the exact numbers of escapees running the river systems without having appropriate information on escapes from any affected farms.
The board of IFI has issued the following statement: “ IFI has been charged with the protection of wild Atlantic salmon and continues to have concerns regarding the impacts of fish farms on Ireland’s precious wild fish. The licensing regime and best management practice should provide assurance to the State that controls are in place that safeguard our heritage. This does not appear to be the case in this instance. IFI supports sustainable fish farming but cautions against the renewal and/or award of licences where conditions are not being adhered to. The board recommends immediate strict enforcement and audit of existing licence conditions to ensure compliance and ultimately a sustainable resource for all.”