The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, has approved legislation that will govern the wild salmon and sea trout fisheries in 2023. These will come into effect from Sunday, 1st January 2023.
Minister Ryan said: “81 rivers will be available for salmon and sea trout fishing in 2023. This facilitates careful management of this important natural resource, for which conservation and sustainability are paramount. 48 of the rivers will be fully open, with a further 33 open to ‘catch and release’ angling. The general improvements in stocks from 2022 have been maintained for 2023. However, collective effort and persistence are required to see the state of all individual river stocks improve over time. The stocks themselves are completely dependent on everybody increasing our efforts in facing up to environmental, climate and biodiversity impacts from human interventions.”
To support the legislation for 2023, Minister Ryan received management advice from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) in relation to over 140 genetically individual wild salmon stocks in Ireland, which was based on individual scientific assessments. The assessments are carried out every year by the Technical Expert Group on Salmon (TEGOS) – an all-island independent scientific group comprising experts from a range of bodies.
IFI, supported by TEGOS, determined: which of the individual stocks were sufficiently above their specific conservation limit to be open to fishing; which rivers did not meet a sufficient level above the limit but met a sufficient percentage of the limit to be classified for catch and release angling; and which rivers were so far below the limit as to close them to any exploitation.
The conservation limit is the number of adult spawning fish required to maintain a healthy and sustainable stock in each individual river. The key issue to support increased stocks is improvement in water quality. Many of our rivers are not at a sufficiently high water quality level to support sustainable stocks, often caused by agricultural activities, and to a lesser extent, insufficient treatment of waste water.
This year’s advice was also made available as part of a statutory public consultation process during which written submissions from stakeholders (including the recreational and commercial fishing and the environmental sectors) were sought on the draft regulations.
Management advice based on the TEGOS assessment of rivers/estuaries/harbours is that:
• 48 rivers are to be open as a sustainable surplus has been identified in these rivers;
• 33 rivers are to be classified as open for “catch and release” angling;
• 66 rivers are to be closed as they have no sustainable surplus available.
Minister Ryan added: “Ireland has long been internationally recognised for embedding the conservation imperative as a vital component of our management of the precious salmon resource. While the policy has served us well for more than a decade, throughout 2022 my Department has been evaluating the effectiveness of current management policy and its implementation. I intend, as part of the broader inland fisheries policy review currently underway, to set out options for improvement, with an even greater focus on conservation, in our management regime and for modernising licensing requirements, to ensure access to the resource where its conservation and biodiversity needs are met.”
You can find the Inland Fisheries bye-laws 2022 at: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/4753d-inland-fisheries-bye-laws-2022/.
• S.I. No. 685 of 2022 Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2022:
These regulations provide for the quotas of fish that can be harvested by commercial fishing engines and rod and line from those rivers identified in Schedule 2 of the regulations. The regulations also provide for the use of brown tags in specified rivers which are identified in Schedule 4.
• Angling Bye-law No. 996, 2022:
This bye-law prohibits the use of any fishhooks, other than single or double barbless hooks, and also prohibits the use of worms as bait in angling for all species of fish in the waters specified in the bye-law. This is to avoid the use of hooks and baits which are not conducive to fish survival and to ensure that the objective of catch and release fishing is not frustrated.
• Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (Bag Limits) Bye-law No. 997, 2022:
This bye-law provides for an annual bag limit of 10 fish being either salmon or sea trout (over 40 cm) per angler and provides for a season bag limit of three fish in the period 1st January to 11th May, a daily bag limit of three fish from 12th May to 31st August and a daily bag limit of one fish from 1st September to the end of the season. The bye-law also provides for the use of single or double barbless hooks and prohibits the use of worms as bait once the specified numbers of fish have been caught in the specified periods.
• Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (Catch and Release) Bye-law No. 998, 2022:
This bye-law provides for catch and release in respect of salmon and sea trout (over 40cm) in rivers that are meeting at least 50% of their Conservation Limit as mentioned in the bye-law. The bye-law also provides for the use of single or double barbless hooks and prohibits the use of worms as bait in angling for salmon and sea trout over 40cm.
• Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (River Suir) Bye-law No. 999, 2022:
This bye-law provides for catch and release in angling for salmon (any size) and sea trout (over 40cm) in the River Suir (including the waters of the Rivers Clodiagh, Lingaun and Blackwater) and also prohibits the use of worms, prawn, shrimp or any other crustacean, or artificial forms thereof, as bait and any fish hooks other than single or double barbless hooks during the period 17th March to 30th September.
• Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (River Slaney) Bye-law No. 1000, 2022:
This bye-law extends the annual close season in angling for salmon, sea trout and brown trout in the River Slaney and its tributaries from 1st September to 16th March in any year. The bye-law also provides for the use of artificial fly only using single or double barbless hooks upstream of the Railway Bridge, Enniscorthy, and provides for the use of single barbless hooks and a ban on worms as bait downstream of the Railway Bridge, when angling for salmon or sea trout (any size).
• Conservation of Sea Trout Bye-law No. 1001, 2022:
This bye-law provides for a daily bag limit of three sea trout (less than 40cm in length) and provides for the use of single or double barbless hooks and prohibits the use of worms as bait once the specified number of sea trout have been caught.
• Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (Closed Rivers) Bye-law No. C.S. 333, 2022:
Prohibits the taking or attempting to take by rod and line salmon and sea trout (over 40cm) in the rivers specified in the bye-law.