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Salmon fishery to reopen on pilot basis after stocks improve sufficiently

A WELL-KNOWN salmon fishery in Kerry, closed for the past three years for conservation reasons, is to be reopened, initially on a pilot basis.

Minister of State for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Conor Lenihan, has announced a pilot salmon fishery for Castlemaine Harbour.

On a visit to the area, yesterday, he met local commercial fishermen who have been campaigning to have the fishery re-opened and whose case is supported by the South Western Regional Fisheries Board.

According to the board, a fish counter on the River Maine has found salmon stocks have now improved sufficiently to enable fishing to resume.

Meeting the fishermen in Cromane, Mr Lenihan said he had sought details from the fisheries boards as to how fishing could be carried out in a sustainable manner, while ensuring stocks are not over-exploited.

He had decided on a pilot fishery "to right an injustice" that had been done to the fishermen in the harbour.

The pilot fishery would identify the proportion of salmon entering the harbour from the Laune, Maine and other rivers, he added.

There would also be additional genetic analysis on the salmon populations in the Behy and Emlagh rivers.

Mr Lenihan said a detailed scientific and management plan for the operation of the pilot fishery would be drafted in consultation with the South Western Regional Fisheries Board and the Cromane fishermen.

"The results from this analysis will inform all stakeholders, commercial and recreational, on where a commercial fishery might best operate in the common estuary while safeguarding the spawning requirements of stocks," he added.

Fishing will restart on a piecemeal basis and it is expected up to 800 salmon will be allowed to be caught this year.

Cromane fishermen’s spokesman Denis Teahan, while welcoming the minister’s announcement, said they would now have to examine his plan in detail.

The River Maine and Brown Flesk Anglers’ Association, which said it is subject of strict regulations, is opposed to the plan on the grounds that it is unfair to anglers.