Conservation & Ecology with the Slaney River Trust
Currently there is a major focus on the impact of mortality at sea as a significant factor in the decline of stocks of Atlantic salmon. Irish scientists are playing a leading role in the ongoing SALSEA program of scientific research directed at increasing our understanding of this problem.
The problem of declining stocks is however multifaceted and issues specific to the fresh water environment also play a very significant role. Issues can include:
• A decline in water quality and water abstraction
• Degradation in spawning habitat
• The existence of obstructions impeding the migration of adult fish to the redds and of juvenile fish downstream to the sea
• Over exploitation of the stock by legal and illegal means
• The impact of a build up of predators such as cormorants and seals
In 2002 the Slaney Anglers Development Association Ltd and the then Eastern Regional Fisheries Board commissioned a report entitled “A Recovery Plan For The River Slaney Salmon Fishery” by Paul Johnston Associates. This report recommended the formation of the Slaney River Trust and inter alia identified the need for:
• The buyout / voluntary closure of the draft net fishery
• The adoption of catch limiting conservation measures in the rod fishery
• Habitat enhancement work
• The acquisition of increased scientific knowledge about the stocks in the river, including installing an accurate counter, understanding the split between Multi Sea Winter (MSW) springers and grilse, and the identification of key spawning and nursery areas.
• Application for EU funding
Since the publication of the report substantial work on a number of key developments has taken place.
• The draft net fishery is currently closed. Some 30 of the 75 net licences have been surrendered under the Government hardship scheme.
• The rod fishery was initially closed and is now open on a catch and release basis. While this is deemed necessary to help restore stocks, the lack of interested “eyes” on the river increases the threat of illegal fishing and reduces the likelihood of pollution incidents being reported.
• The impact of weirs on fish passage has been a contentious issue for many years which can only be settled by agreement amongst all the parties concerned.
~ Alan Sullivan, a fisheries consultant, has designed a rocky ramp for the Baltinglass weir. It is hoped that this can be installed during 2013.
~ Alan Sullivan has also completed an extensive report for the SRT on potential solutions to the issue over the weir. An outline agreement has been reached between the affected parties and is hoped that subject to all planning maters, construction of a rocky ramp will take place in 2013.
~ Rocky ramps have been successful in addressing weir issues in a number of locations, in particular on the river Nore.
? The collection of scientific information continues to be a priority and the IFI carries out annual Redd counts and electro fishing surveys of the juvenile stock. The need for the installation of a full counter on the river is as great as ever as the existing counter at Clohamon provides only a partial count.
In 2010 a second report was produced by Paul Johnston. Click here to view.