A ‘catch and release only’ policy for any salmon caught in waters in the Public Angling Estate (PAE) has been introduced by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL).
Wild Atlantic salmon in decline
Stocks of wild Atlantic salmon are in decline and action is necessary now in order to save this iconic species from possible extinction.
No single cause has been identified, but ongoing research has pointed to a number of factors:
- the complex life cycle of the salmon - they are born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean, then return to fresh water to reproduce
- rising sea temperatures, which means feeding grounds move further north
- pollution, degraded freshwater habitat and barriers to migration
Measures to address the problem
DCAL is responsible for all salmon and inland fisheries in Northern Ireland, except for the Foyle and Carlingford catchment areas which are the responsibility of the Lough’s Agency.
When applying ‘catch and release’ for recreational angling in waters in the PAE, all salmon caught must be returned unharmed to the water. This is now a condition of sale of DCAL game permits for the PAE.
Fishing waters which are part of the PAE can be found at the following page.
Outside the PAE, anglers are asked to voluntarily adopt ‘catch and release’ of any salmon they catch.
Anglers are also being asked to use less harmful methods when they fish such flies with barbless hooks. Further guidance on ‘catch and release’ is available on the following page:
Commercial salmon fishermen have also been asked by DCAL to voluntarily stop salmon fishing.
Work is also ongoing to improve conditions in areas of rivers in which salmon spawn and their fry develop.
A question and answers document has been prepared to inform anglers of developments in salmon conservation over the next few years. To view this document visit the DCAL website by click the link below:
Other fish are available
Game anglers are encouraged to fish for other species in lakes and rivers as an alternative to salmon. These include brown and rainbow trout. Across the north there are numerous private waters, in addition to those in the DCAL PAE, with excellent fishing for species other than salmon. More information can be found at the link below.
Similar situation in other countries
As well as England, Scotland and Wales, other European countries, North America and Russia face a similar situation.