Burke calls on Minister to sort out Inland Fisheries

Mayo County Councillor Michael Burke is calling on Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, to sort out issues regarding Inland Fisheries Ireland and has written the following letter to the Green Party Leader.

Minister,

We in Mayo County Council appreciate that you have a very extensive and demanding brief in government and my colleagues and I appreciate the opportunity as a local Councillor in South Mayo, to appraise you of some of the local issues that are under the umbrella of your Deptartment of Environment, Climate & Communication and how they affect the lives of people who live and work in this area.

My main concerns for transport in our area are the Ballinrobe traffic and bypass, the Cong ring road and the serious need for upgrade of the R332 Road from Kilmaine to Tuam linking us to Ireland’s motorway infrastructure.

I thank the Minister for his positive response to the road projects mentioned at a recent meeting.

I also understand that as part of your extensive portfolio, you are the Minister with responsibility for Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI ).

I was born beside the once “jewel in the crown” of trout fisheries, Lough Carra, and I have lived and worked in Ballinrobe for over 40 years. Loughs Carra, Mask and Corrib were the premier wild brown trout fisheries in Europe when we joined the EU. At that time the local Inland Fisheries Trust with the little green vans diligently attended to the spawning streams and controlled weed growth and the spread of predators. The Western Regional Fisheries Board later took on the management and development of these unique fisheries and after a big investment by government in the Tourism Angling Measure in the 1990’s, the lakes were flourishing and their social and economic benefit to the area was enormous.

IFI was formed in 2010 by amalgamating the seven regional fisheries boards and was given the national responsibility for the conservation, management and protection of Ireland’s rivers and lakes. While local staff are committed and active it seems to me that there is a distinct cultural problem and “the one size fits all” approach is not working to the benefit of our unique lakes. Minister, our lakes are at crisis point, water quality is deteriorating and invasive weed and alien species are an "existential threat ".

Your colleague, the Green Party TD for Waterford, spoke for a lot of anglers and concerned citizens in this area with his scathing comments about governance issues in IFI at the PAC on Thursday 6th July and I quote: 'IFI halfway between “Ballymagash and Killinaskully”. The taxpayer has been left on the hook for mistakes made by the IFI. There is a feeling that taxpayers’ money has been thrown around like snuff at a wake”. IFI was unable to quantify its liability for having 16 uninsured vehicles on the road as a result of a “systems failure” when one was involved in a three-car crash. The cost to the taxpayer of the failure to properly manage Aasleagh Lodge and cottages was “unbelievable” and the fact that two acres of pristine native Scots Pine forest was cut down a few years ago to make way for a base that was never built but cost €45K to plan is not good governance and is certainly not good use of taxpayers money. This is environmental vandalism and economic squandermania by a state body'.

Minister, Deputy O Cathasaigh spoke to the frustrations of people around here and I appeal to you to intervene to give our once priceless lakes a fighting chance. Understandably there is much furore about poor governance and controls in RTE at present. It seems to me that IFI is in the same boat and a root and branch review is long overdue. The latest corporate plan from IFI, as published on their website, wisely places an emphasis on habitat maintenance and development – in other words “boots on the ground”. The plan is good but like all plans it’s the delivery that counts and it’s the failure to deliver that is obvious.

In a nutshell, if we don’t attend to the spawning streams and nursery beds as the IFT used to do, we can’t expect to have viable trout fisheries.

I again thank you for listening to us and taking our genuine concerns on board.

 

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