Local fisherman honoured for his contributions to science

Dr Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland, Dr Cathal Gallagher, Head of Research and Development at Inland Fisheries Ireland, Herbie Power from Ballysimon, Limerick and Dr Ciara O’Leary, Research Officer at Inland Fisheries Ireland.

A fisherman from Ballysimon has been honoured at a special event hosted by Inland Fisheries Ireland. Recognised for his work in the Shannon Estuary and his contributions to the Scientific Eel Fishery initiative, Herbie Power’s achievements were celebrated at a gala in Athlone.

Herbie first started fishing for eels over 30 years ago on the River Slaney in Co. Wexford and then later in Limerick in the 1970s. His father was a part-time fisherman on the Slaney and he taught Herbie and his two brothers how to fish for eels.

Since last year, Herbie has provided support to Inland Fisheries Ireland by helping them fish for glass eel in a conservation focused manner with a view to gathering necessary data which will help protect the species into the future. Herbie’s local expertise and historical knowledge around eel in the area has provided invaluable support to Inland Fisheries Ireland during the set up and delivery of a Scientific Eel Fishery.

The organisation commenced the process of setting up a network of scientific fisheries for eel around Ireland in 2016. These scientific fisheries cover the different life stages (glass eel, elver, yellow and silver eel) and are distributed in key catchments around Ireland. The purpose of the fisheries is to increase the knowledge around eels in Ireland ahead of the next EU review of this endangered species and to inform the management of eel populations which are currently in decline.

Dr Cathal Gallagher, Head of Research and Development said: “Herbie Power has historical and local knowledge around eel habits in the area. In many cases, this has been passed down through the generations. This important partnership between eel fishermen and research has one shared objective, to improve our knowledge of the state of the eel populations and to ensure their conservation for future generations.”

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Citizen science is growing in popularity and encompasses many different ways in which citizens who are non-scientists, are involved in scientific research projects. The involvement of fishermen in the Scientific Eel Fisheries plays an important role in respecting the tradition and heritage of eel fishing in Ireland. Many of the fishermen come from families where eel fishing has been practised across several generations with local expertise and knowledge passed down through the years.