CONCERNS are growing fish stocks may be declining on Lough Erne, placing the valuable local angling industry at risk.
The lough is known as one of the finest coarse fishing waters in Europe and is popular with competitive anglers. The Classic Fishing Festival, which takes place in May, attracts hundreds to the county, for example.
Since the season began there have been whispers there may no longer be as many fish in the lough as there once was, however there are no current statistics to confirm these suspicions.
Local angler Jack Tisdall said there were a number of reasons why concern was growing among those who fish the lough regularly, but also offered some explanation.
“We had 240 people here for the Classic this year, which is on par with other years, in fact it was quite good,” said Mr Tisdall, who helped organise the event. “It’s certainly not true to say anglers aren’t coming.
“To put that in perspective, though, my understanding is that the catches were quite poor, probably the worst they’ve been in a long, long time. That’s probably why there’s a lot of social media chat about not many are going to come back next year and this sort of thing.
“They say they’re not coming back, then the next thing they arrive back. They don’t just come for the fishing. They come for the social life and also the beauty of the place.
“This year it was baking hot and they all got a sun tan.
“That weather condition could’ve contributed to the fact the catches were low, because any day it was overcast or a bit cloudy they caught more than when it was bright and sunny. Conditions do play a part.”
Mr Tisdall said another reason anglers were becoming concerned was because two reports due from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) had not yet been published.
“There’s the Lough Erne Management Report, which they say can’t be released until there’s a minister to sign off on it.
“It’s ready but they’re not releasing it,” he said.
“There’s the fish stock report for the year. The speculation among anglers is it’s that poor they’re afraid to release it because the picture is grim.”
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