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paul locke 02-12-2004 03:36 AM

wild irish smoked salmon
 
surfing the fishing links i came up with a site www.ummera.com in the irish republic. the coy is ummera smoked products, majoring on wild smoked salmon caught returning from...... it seemed a little ambivalent so i emailed-'how are your salmon caught'. i got the following reply 'our wild salmon are all caught either on the high seas with drift nets or in the estauries with draft nets'. WAIT FOR IT 'it is now no longer legal for rod and line fishermen to sell their catch to us' . AS WE SAY IN ENGLAND "SO THATS ALRIGHT THEN" the irish deep sea trawlers are hoovering up the returning fish heading for the west coast of uk and spain, france germany. they regard catching hundreds of thousands of fish as harvesting a sustainable resource and they have so called scientists to prove it. then the irish tourist board spends millions trying to attract anglers to their depleted rivers. no thinking uk angler will have anything to do with anything irish until this is stopped, as the minister in charge promised a few years ago and then reneged!

Gardener 02-12-2004 06:22 AM

Paul, I agree with some of what you say. The Irish drift nets fly right in the face of the notion that fish should be harvested from individually identified, sustainable populations. If you look at the quotas of Irish fish county by county, you will see that Kerry has a disproportionately large share of the total - almost exactly one sixth of the total harvest - yet doesn't itself have any major salmon rivers. Is it just coincidence that Kerry lies at the south-west corner of Ireland, and that all salmon heading for SW England and Wales, as well as the Irish east coast rivers, are likely to concentrate at this point as they turn to swim east? I think not.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that there is a demand for salmon which needs to be fulfilled somehow. That demand has been hugely inflated by the cheap and readily available farmed fish is recent years, and it isn't going to go away. Would you rather support the vile salmon farming industry by buying their third-rate product? Until a way is found of avoiding the hazards to wild fish populations that they represent, I'd rather not give them a penny of my money. Moreover, there are people who prefer to buy wild salmon, and cutting off the supply of legitimately caught fish will only encourage a resurgence in incidents of large scale poaching, which has reduced in recent years.

I cannot see any objection to draft nets in estuaries. Provided that the rivers have a healthy and self-sustaining run of fish, I believe that a harvest can be taken. Take an example from one place I know a bit; the draft nets in the Killary Harbour in Connemara. These nets take fish destined for two rivers, the Bundorragha system (the Delphi fishery) and the Erriff, that share this estuary. Both have healthy numbers of fish, and I believe they genuinely are a sustainable resource, that can afford moderate cropping. It's worth mentioning that Peter Mantle, the proprietor of the Delphi fishery and one of the leading voices in opposing salmon farms in the area, actually sells smoked salmon taken from these nets. Although he has an interest in ensuring the maximum number of fish return to his river, it appears that he thinks this is the 'least worst' way of satisfying the demand for salmon.

Topher Browne 02-12-2004 12:50 PM

Hi Gardener,

What are "draft nets in estuaries" (we don't have those over here as far as I know), and how selective are they?

Thanks, TB

Gardener 02-12-2004 03:53 PM

Topher, draft nets are quite small nets operated using traditional methods. Typically, one man holds an end of the net on shore, while a small boat goes out, paying the net out behind it, and makes a wide sweep before returning to shore. The net is then hauled in by hand.

These nets operate in the estuary, or even in the tidal stretches of the river, and so only take fish destined for the river(s) that feed that estuary. They are thus much less indiscriminate than the drift netters which operate on the high seas and take salmon heading for any number of rivers including, in the case of the Irish nets, fish destined for other countries. Draft nets may take other estuarine fish, such as mullet or sea bass, but certainly don't kill the numbers of seabirds, dolphins etc that die in drift nets every year. Because the whole process is quite short, I think that anything that is caught in the nets can often be released without too much harm.

Of course, as a rod fisherman, I would ideally like to see an end to all netting. Draft nets can, at certain times of the year and especially in low water conditions, take very large numbers of fish. Nevertheless, the pragmatist in me acknowledges that it remains necessary to have a supply of wild salmon into the commercial market, and as I said to Paul, this seems the least worst system.

paul locke 02-12-2004 04:09 PM

draft nets
 
why not let the fish come home unmolested and 'meet the demand' by rod caught fish?

Willie Gunn 02-12-2004 04:17 PM

Not a good idea for so many reasons.

Not all anglers show restraint, the expression fishmonger springs to mind.(anglers who fish purely to make money)The use of prawns, shrimps and god knows what else would be used (again)

It is very difficult to pressurise governments to stop high sea fishing if UK anglers are killing and selling fish. Why should the netsmen give up their livelyhoods to give anglers sport.

just don't go there

paul locke 02-12-2004 04:31 PM

draft nets
 
sorry, i dont get it. i own beats on west country rivers where even with most estuary nets gone very few fish appear despite catch and release for first half of season. i would far rather fight with poachers etc when fish are in river than look at empty river because irish have netted everything. what part of 'value of rod caught fish is 20 times value of netted fish' cant people un derstand?

Willie Gunn 02-12-2004 04:46 PM

Paul,
I am against the Irish drift nets but I am realistic enough to realise that you cannot persuade governments to ban high seas netting if anglers continue to kill and sell the fish they catch. Each river system must be assessed to see whether it is possible to “take a crop” of salmon by some method. Estuary netting although not ideal has been traditionally carried out by the same families for many generations, it is politically difficult to explain that this man and his family should be made redundant to ensure anglers can catch fish for sport. I am aware of how much a rod caught fish is worth to local economies both job wise and financiall. Recent research has shown that Spey angling is worth £12million a year to the local economy and that nearly 370 jobs depend on it but equally I realise that in politics a compromise must be made somewhere

paul locke 02-12-2004 05:03 PM

netting
 
very sorry, i still dont get it. how can we ask faroese and greenlanders to restrict their catches while we net on high seas and coasts? this myth that anglers are the problem is one being promoted by the uk authourities, mainly i suspect to justify their expanding empires of useless jobsworths. the idea that rod fishermen are having any impact on stocks compared to the netsmen is ludicrous. we have had this so called 'real world political attitude' for 50 years now and things just get worse. answer-restrict the rod angler, result decline in salmon, growth in jobsworths. any angler with any brains is boycotting ireland and many scotland also as nonsense like river spey new rules come in.personally norway and russia for me.

Willie Gunn 02-12-2004 05:18 PM

Paul.
Please read my replies, I am against nets, all nets. I am also politically astute enough to realise that some things have to be approached slowly and rationally. I can see the Faeroese and Greenland governments resuming netting that was voluntarily given up if Ireland continues to net indiscriminately.
I, in all honesty, cannot see the argument that there should be no netting if anglers continue to kill fish.

Interesting point you raise here,

any angler with any brains is boycotting ireland and many scotland also as nonsense like river spey new rules come in.personally norway and russia for me.

Correct me if I am wrong but isn't Russia total catch and release.

Topher Browne 02-12-2004 09:13 PM

One More Question
 
Thanks Gardener...Hi Paul and Malcolm,

Interesting discussion. It sounds like indiscriminate drift netting is a significant issue; the more discriminate and smaller "net and cobble" fishery in estuaries perhaps less so. I understand Orri Vigfusson has his sights set firmly on the Irish Drift Fishery: I should not wish to bet against him.

I asked about estuarian 'draft' nets only because I know of a couple of rivers over here that are experimenting with in-river 'live traps' to satisfy the requirements of local aboriginal fisheries. The 'live traps' allow large female MSW salmon--the most important spawners--to be released or at least selectively culled. Bad news for male salmon, but good news for salmon overall.

One more question for you gentlemen:

What is the largest and most effective salmon conservation organization in Great Britain, and do they have a stated position on these issues? Is it the Atlantic Salmon Trust? NASCO? The Atlantic Salmon Federation? Other?

Thank you, TB

fredaevans 02-12-2004 10:39 PM

5 star thread
 
fae

paul locke 02-13-2004 03:59 AM

netting salmon
 
sorry willie gunn, you are not politically astute, you have contributed to this fiction that there is some sort of equality between the positions of the netsmen and the angler. this is rubbish, the scale of the depredations by nets is vastly greater than anything anglers have done.[i deliberately hav'nt answered your red hering about C&R as we are arguing about whether fish should be allowed back to yheir rivers, not yet about what should happen when they get there] the netsmen are poachers under another name. they contribute nothing to the care of the rivers or the fish, and this idea that they are just working class labourers fighting the elements to feed their families is rubbish. someone's been watching too much braveheart! the irish admit to killing in excess of 500,000 fish by nets, imagine what the real total must be! i am told that after your blank weeks fishing 'they' give you a net caught salmon to take home [SO THATS ALRIGHT THEN]

Gardener 02-13-2004 06:11 AM

Paul, nobody here (at least neither 'Willie Gunn' nor I) is defending the Irish drift nets. That will be clear if you reread what we have written. It is the small, local draft nets that I, at least, believe should be allowed to continue for now. These are not indiscriminate, and I don't believe that Irish draft nets, unlike the drift nets, take large numbers of fish destined for the West Country rivers or elsewhere. It is important to keep that distinction in mind in this debate.

Rod anglers have been at the forefront of pressure to remove or restrict high-seas netting, but we cannot simply argue for this from a position of self-interest. Conservation of the species is the only really justifiable argument. You must see that there is no sense in suggesting that someone should be prevented from exercising a legal right (netsmen are not, as you allege, poachers under another name), which may form part or all of their livelihood, just so that rod fishermen, who fish for pleasure and almost certainly don't need the money, can step in and take their share of the market. That would be morally bankrupt. I believe we only have a moral right to call for the cessation of netting if we are setting an example by going further than the netsmen in our conservation efforts. I therefore believe it is quite unacceptable for rod fishermen to sell any part of their catch, and am delighted that the Irish government has banned it. In this respect, at least, they are well ahead of England and Wales.

There is a fundamental difference between high-seas netting and netting in estuaries or rivers. The former is indiscriminate and is likely to take fish from places where stocks are endangered. The latter is quite closely targetted at individual runs of fish. Clearly, draft netting should only be carried out where numbers of fish are healthy and stocks are self-supporting. I don't know whether this is the case on those west country rivers that still have estuary or river nets, but there are certainly plenty of Irish rivers that can afford a harvest of fish to the local nets (which is where this thread started).

Topher, interesting point about your fish traps. I believe that draft nets could also be managed so as to favour certain runs of fish. The nets at the mouth of the Hampshire Avon have participated in salmon research for years. Fish taken in the nets have been radio-tagged and released, and monitored up to spawning. So it should certainly be possible to run some form of selective harvesting scheme to promote, say, MSW fish. This cannot be said for drift nets.

Indeed, one of the noticeable things in Ireland is the very small size of fish caught these days. Grilse of no more than 3-31/2lbs now dominate the catch in the rivers I know in Ireland. 30-40 years ago the grilse averaged 5-6lbs. The larger fish are 'sieved' out by the nets, while these runts can get through the mesh (albeit with much net-marking and frequent damage to fins). I fear that this is effectively operating a 'selective breeding' programme which will reduce their size permanently. In theory, I suppose a programme could be instigated in conjunction with the draft netters to reverse this trend, though I fear this will remain just a theory!

Charlie

Topher Browne 02-13-2004 12:55 PM

Hi Gardener,

You raise some very interesting points, as always.

With the virtual elimination of a commercial fishery for Atlantic salmon of North American origin, many rivers experienced a significant bump in numbers of returning fish in 2003 (@ 20% and upwards for some systems).

The elimination of the commercial fishery also gives the North American angler the dubious distinction of killing more Atlantic salmon than all other user groups combined: an interesting dilemma for sportfishing conservation organizations at the bargaining tables of the future.

For some interesting commentary on drift nets, see: www.atlanticsalmontrust.org under "News." The Atlantic Salmon Trust is a non-profit organization and a registered charity based in the U.K.


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