Alteration work on weir blamed for salmon deaths

FISHERIES board staff yesterday began work on temporary modifications to a weir which local fishermen claim is damaging one of the country’s most popular salmon rivers because it is too high for the fish.

Local fishermen at the River Nore claim that hundreds of salmon which have not managed to spawn are dying because they are exhausted from trying to negotiate the controversial weir.

A month after the problem was first highlighted, Southern Regional Fisheries Board (SRFB) staff spent yesterday putting in a temporary solution to the problem.

“The job should be complete by the end of the day,” said SRFB chief executive Brian Sheerin yesterday.

“The water levels were too high for us to work up to now. But a lot of the salmon have gotten up, despite what some of the anglers say. We think they have exaggerated the situation.”

It is part of the natural life cycle of salmon to die after they have spawned, and fishery experts claim that this is what has happened to the fish on the Nore.

However, fishermen claim that a lot of the dead salmon they have found are full of spawn.

“I’ve been fishing on the Nore for 45 years and will probably never fish it again after what I’ve seen in the past few weeks. The hens we’ve found are full of spawn and they have not been up river,” said 68-year-old local man Dick Keoghan.

“I’m sick, sore and sorry by what I’ve seen. The salmon have been getting scarcer each year but what’s been allowed to happen on the river in the past few weeks is a catastrophe and is a needless loss of life. It won’t impact this year but we will see catastrophic results in four or five years time,” he said.

The higher weir was developed as part of the ongoing River Nore drainage works. Local anglers, politicians and the Southern Regional Fisheries board have all blamed the Office of Public Works (OPW) for the problems at the weir.

But a spokesman for the OPW said last night that the situation has improved at the site, because the river is in flood.

He added that the spent salmon they had examined had been upriver to spawn.

“From our preliminary investigations, some modifications are needed on site and they will be carried out in the summer when it is safer. A fish population study has been done and another will be done in the autumn,” the OPW spokesman added.

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