Just had this email forwarded to SACN:
Fort William Estate Fishery
Dear Ministers and interested parties,
Some of you will know me and what I do for a living.
For those that don't, I manage a salmon rod fishery on the R.Blackwater in Ireland.
I am one of those who are in the "trenches" right now, dealing with the total collapse of this year's summer salmon run in Ireland.
I am no politician, nor represent any group.
I just look after 4 beautiful stretches of the Munster Blackwater.
Five years ago, Fort William was fully booked a year in advance, for June & September and I had a waiting list of 14 groups, trying to get a week's slot during these times. July & August were 75% full, May was 50% full and the Spring was not heavily fished due to stocks having already been decimated.
This year I still have many weeks available right to the end of the season and can't sell them!
This year so far, I have had 7 groups cancelling, never to return while we continue to drift-net. That is a total of 21 more anglers lost to the Irish economy
I am not going to get technical by using words like "rod days" etc, I prefer to put things in layman's terms.
This year (2005) in May, I had 12 fishermen, who caught 8 salmon.
In June, I had 40 anglers who caught 14 salmon.
So far in July I have had 22 fishermen, who have caught 16 salmon.
Please bare in mind, I can cater for up to 12 anglers a day on 4 stretches.
In the year 1999, we had 45 salmon in May, 102 in June and 69 in July.
Since the year 2000, Fort William fishery has lost 90 tourist anglers (mostly from the UK), as a direct result of the continued decreasing catches or catching no fish at all!
This year by far, has been the worst and going from a season of 5 busy months, I am now facing a season of 2 fishing months (Aug & Sept), after the commercial netting has ended 31st July.
What is just as alarming, I have recently returned from the CLA Game Fair in the UK. This is the largest game fair in Britain & Ireland, spread over 500 acres and has over 500 000 visitors.
I spoke to many anglers, angling bodies and representatives.
There was an over whelming feeling of resentment towards the Irish Government.
What I found most disturbing, was the general feeling amongst many, to deliberately boycott Ireland.
They do not want to spend their money in a country, helping a government who have no intention of phasing out drift-netting.
The number of tourist anglers avoiding Ireland, is growing by the day.
It also spans into the other European countries, France, Germany & Switzerland etc etc.
As a result of our government's policy on drift-netting, we now have such a bad name amongst so many tourist fishermen, that no amount of advertising will bring them back.
I was really quite shocked at this level of feeling.
However I must add, that there were absolutely no complaints about our beautiful rivers & loughs, accommodation & restaurants and most of all ,our friendly welcome.
They just don't want to come over out of principle, while our government continue to ignore the situation.
This is only going to snowball and you can't blame them.
We must also not forget our own Irish anglers, who have fished their native rivers for generations.
There are now an increasing number nationals, booking fishing trips outside our shores because they cannot catch fish here!
What a travesty, that our children and grandchildren etc, will be denied the opportunity & excitement of catching a wild salmon in their own country!
Not only have we lost our Spring & now our summer run, we have also lost our angling tourist industry and our reputation as one of worlds best Wild Atlantic Salmon angling countries.
Why is our government so arrogant as to think that they can continue to net & net & net until the salmon are gone?
Then not only will they have lost their "precious" commercial salmon drift-net fisheries that they care so much about, but they will have thrown away the opportunity to become one of the most desirable destinations for tourist anglers from all over the world.
These anglers will spend millions here each year as well as creating many more jobs.
This government is going to leave Ireland's salmon angling reputation in tatters, to be scorned at all.
We will be known as the country that had the "Golden Goose", then took it out and shot it for dinner!
I beg all of you who are involved in this....please do not let this happen.
What more evidence is needed here????
Do not let our Wild Irish Salmon die because of votes or any other hidden agendas.
I cannot comprehend how our Government cannot see this.....How long does Mr.Gallagher think that our wild salmon stocks can withstand, on a annual basis, being hunted down by large, state of the art drift-net vessels, with sonar, radar and updated fish finders, not to mention invisible mono-filament net.
With over 700 drift-net licences and no major hatcheries, where in the name of God does he think these numbers of fish will continue to come from?
The R.Blackwater had it's hatchery closed by the government 3 years ago, we have a fish counter that hasn't worked since last year because they won't replace the modem, we have a fishery board staff spread thinner than paper with extremely limited resources which are cut annually. What is going on here!
I would love to know!!!!!
Whoever has the guts to save this critical situation, will live in the memory of so many, as the one who saved our heritage!
Fishery Manager Fort William Estate
Tel. (00353) 87 8292077
Web Site: [url]http://www.fortwilliamfishing.net[/url]