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.”