THE chairman of an influential salmon conservation group has said the outright ban on the sale of rod caught salmon across the North will hit poachers targeting the River Foyle and its tributaries.
A ban has already existed in the Foyle area for the past four to five years, but Mark Tierney, who chairs the No Salmon Nets in Irish Waters group, said that poachers had been able to use a loophole by purchasing a rod licence for a legal area.
The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) previously granted up to 25 tags to fish for salmon in permitted areas, such as the Ballinderry River area around Cookstown.
The campaigner from Carrickmore claimed poachers have been catching salmon from the Foyle and its tributaries in Tyrone and using the legal tags to sell to butchers and restaurants.
“It closes a loophole where for example poachers from Sion Mills and Strabane were catching the fish, taking them to the DCAL area and using the tags from there, effectively making the illegally caught salmon legal,” said Mr Tierney.
The NSNIIW conservation group was set up in August 2011 to reverse the declining numbers of wild Atlantic Salmon in local waterways.
The ban comes into place on Saturday (June 1 2013), the beginning of the season for the taking of salmon. The ban will also extend to sea-trout.
Speaking on Monday, Fisheries Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said, “The introduction of these regulations is the first step in a series of conservation measures aimed at protecting stocks of the iconic Atlantic salmon. More....