Northern Ireland

Warning over Northern Ireland salmon population

Salmon on a hook
Image caption Anglers have been asked not to kill any salmon they catch

Netting for salmon around the coast of Northern Ireland could be having a potentially serious effect on the breeding population.

Describing the continued exploitation of salmon as "untenable", Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Caral Ni Chuilin, has already asked for a voluntary ban on all netting and is asking anglers not to kill any salmon they catch but to throw them back.

In a written statement to the Northern Ireland Assembly she went further, pointing the finger at drift and bag netting near key salmon rivers.

These nets are still allowed and licensed by DCAL.

In her statement, the minister revealed that: "DCAL licensed drift nets and bag nets fishing for salmon off the County Antrim coast are intercepting mixed stocks of salmon from rivers monitored by DCAL and also salmon from the Foyle catchment."

The statement said that while the actual areas these salmon were heading to could not be verified, the nets involved were close to key rivers where monitoring showed stocks were below conservation levels.

It was also assumed that the nets were also intercepting salmon from other rivers not currently being monitored.

Salmon and inland fisheries have now been contacted requesting a voluntary ban on netting and killing salmon in 2012 as part of a wider conservation measure.

The statement said that if the department did not ask for the voluntary action it would be in breach of the EC Habitats Directive and NASCO guidelines.

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