Coarse fishing ‘under threat over clam invasion’

There is growing concern over the lack of a timeframe for carrying out remedial work around Lanesborough where 25m Asian clams have been found.

The highly invasive clams were discovered in a popular fishing spot known as the hot water stretch beside an ESB power plant in Co Longford last month.

Residents in the Ballyleague-Lanesborough area are concerned about the future of coarse fishing along the section of the River Shannon which has traditionally attracted fishing tourists.

Earlier this month Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) senior researcher, Dr Joe Caffrey, voiced concerns about the unique environment at the fishing spot. He believes the warm water could potentially and unnaturally enable the clams to spawn and feed all-year round.

The vice-chairman of the Ballyleague Village Renewal group Joe Cribbin has joined with local anglers, community organisations and others in expressing alarm that — after five weeks of research — they seem no closer to a start date for the dredging work to tackle the invasive species.

“The fishery is still closed,” Mr Cribbin said, “and we are all investing in new facilities for anglers

here at a time when the future of coarse fishing is under threat so we need to get a timeframe for work to begin.”

Mr Cribbin said “Inland Fisheries have done a top-class job identifying the problem — we now need agencies such as the EPA, ESB and the county councils to help them get the work started.”

Earlier yesterday, Brian Tabiner of the Lanesborough angling club told RTÉ anglers were now concerned the work could be deferred because of winter flooding if it does not start shortly.

IFI published its report on the infestation and briefed the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Waterways Ireland, ESB, Bord Na Mona, OPW, Roscommon and Longford county councils and local community and angling groups on Friday.

“It is clear from the findings of the survey that the population of Asian Clam has already reached a stage where complete removal is not feasible,” the report said. However there are a number of recommendations and options being considered.

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