Working group to improve Shannon fish passages

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The Minister of State for Rural Affairs Seán Canny, TD and the Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government Damien English, TD together with Jim Dollard, ESB Executive Director Generation and Trading recently chaired the inaugural meeting of a working group tasked with recommending ways to improve fish passage at Parteen on the River Shannon at Ardnacrusha Power Station. Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22.

UP TO the early 1900s, the River Shannon was renowned for its salmon stocks but in recent years, the spawning habitat has deteriorated beyond recognition.

A working group, involving local stakeholders, representatives from the Government departments and the ESB, has been tasked with finding ways to improve fish passage at Parteen on the river basin.

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The group believes that improving passage around the Ardnacrusha hydroelectric power station would enhance the ecological condition of the river and give fish improved access to the upper Shannon catchment.

One of its key goals will be to enhance tourism and angling in the area.

Jim Dollard, ESB’s director of generation, said that they focused significant resources and expertise on waterways and fish conservation through a number of initiatives.

“ESB plays a significant role in the delivery of Ireland’s National Eel Management Plan, operates hatcheries on the Shannon, Erne and the Lee and eight fish passes and lifts along the rivers where we have a presence.

“We have also delivered many river development projects across the Shannon through our interactions with the local angling community. ESB is happy to continue to work with stakeholders to improve the Shannon as an amenity,” he said.

Recent figures from the National Strategy for Angling Development showed there were 128,988 salmon and sea trout anglers in 2014/2015. Of these, 62,928 were domestic anglers, 17,220 came from Northern Ireland and 48,840 rom overseas. The total economic contribution from these anglers was €210 million.

The Steering Group has a core group that is responsible for producing potential solutions and consists of organisations that would have a direct role in any potential pilot project designed to address the issues raised.