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Last Updated: Monday, 8 August 2005, 08:04 GMT 09:04 UK
Irish fishing causes salmon fear
Irish drift nets are being blamed for catching too many salmon
Welsh anglers are calling on Irish fishermen to stop using huge drift nets which are blamed for the falling numbers of salmon from rivers in Wales.

The European Union has already warned the Irish government to stop drift-net fishing or face prosecution.

Lyn Hughes, the vice president of the Welsh Salmon and Trout angling association, said the situation in Wales was "really grim".

But he said it was too early for figures on the numbers affected.

"We are not seeing salmon - that's for sure," he said.

"We have to wait for anglers and netsmens' returns, and we won't have any accurate scientific numbers until this time next year probably."

Our salmon stocks are going down for a variety of reasons, of which drift netting is one of the major ones
Nial Green, Stop Irish Driftnets Now

Mr Hughes, who is also founder member of the Carmarthenshire Fishermen's Association, said Great Britain can press Ireland to stop drift-netting, after it stopped its own use of the method.

"We had to put our own house in order here in Great Britain because we had a notorious drift net fishery off the north east of England," he said.

"We could not put that much pressure on the Irish government while we had egg on our own face.

"The drift-netting in this country is a thing of the past."

An Environment Agency spokesman confirmed that salmon had been in decline for the last 10-15 years.

Anglers say they are seeing fewer salmon in Welsh rivers

He said the Irish drift net fishery remained a significant, if not the main, exploiter of some stocks.

"Salmon from all parts of England and Wales are exploited in the Irish coastal drift net fishery," added the spokesman.

"The agency would greatly welcome a change in the management of the Irish fisheries, , such that less than 1% of salmon from any English or Welsh river would be killed in these fisheries."

Nial Green, chairman of the Stop Irish Driftnets Now organisation, said the situation in Irish rivers was "not dissimilar" to that in Wales.

He said a recent study showed "that around 10-12% of all salmon going back to rivers in south Wales and south west of England were being taken in the Irish drift nets".

But he admitted it was not just drift-netting causing the problem.

"Our salmon stocks are going down for a variety of reasons, of which drift netting is one of the major ones," he said.

"But that beholds us to take a much more precautionary approach in the management of what is left, or we will actually kill the seed stock.

"The Irish drift net fishery is now the only large scale drift net fishery in the entire North Atlantic region."

Anger over Irish salmon quotas
17 May 05 |  Northern Ireland
New fears over ones that got away
12 May 05 |  Scotland



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