Big thank you from

Environmental Disaster

Dear Editor,

I feel I must express my sadness and deep dismay regarding the pollution incident that occurred in August on the river Mourne here in Northern Ireland. Once again a tributary of the Mourne, in this case the river Strule, has been poisoned and approx. 800 adult salmon have been denied the chance to spawn and perpetuate the salmon run in the Mourne system.

I say "once again" because just a few years ago the Drumragh river, another Mourne tributary was poisoned in very similar circumstances with much the same result. Also a few years before that the Strule was poisoned and the situation was so bad that all angling and netting was suspended on the main river, the Mourne. However this is not the only threat facing the salmon in the Mourne.

There is a hydro-electric scheme on the Mourne at Sion Mills and although work was carried out to prevent fish kills the problem persists. The turbines continue to kill smolts on their journey back to sea and adult fish returning to spawn. This story is borne out by eyewitness accounts. So what do the protectors of the Foyle system, The Loughs Agency, do to combat these threats to the migratory fish. They decided last year to extend the netting season by two weeks!!! How long can the Mourne system sustain this type of mismanagement?? In my opinion not very much longer and this is a view held by many others who care about the Foyle system.

The carcass tagging scheme implemented here in Northern Ireland was designed to stop poaching and encourage catch and release. However one would definitely ask oneself why bother returning salmon to a river that is as poorly protected and managed as the Mourne. Will any fish released ever actually get the chance to spawn or will they be poached out or poisoned before reaching the spawning redds.

As a license holder, angler and conservationist I demand a public enquiry into the Loughs Agency�s management of the salmon resource on the Foyle system and the perpetrators of the terrible poisoning on the Strule be brought to justice rather than the whole incident being swept under the carpet as was done with previous pollution incidents.

Finally I call upon Mr. Derek Anderson, Chief Executive of The Loughs Agency and his so called bailiffs to stamp out this destruction of the Mourne system once and for all as is their responsibility. Failing that they should resign and allow others who care about the Mourne to take their positions, as their performance to date has been nothing short of negligent.

Yours sincerely
William Marsden

Ulster Star