Works earmarked for River Shannon tributaries
Works planned for the current year to improve angling amenities and fish habitats on the Nenagh River, as well as on the Little Brosna at Birr and the Mulkear River near Birdhill, are outlined in the latest annual report of the Shannon Fisheries Partnership (SFP).
The SFP was established in 2010 and is comprised of representatives of the ESB, which is responsible for fishery management in the Shannon catchment, along with representatives of Inland Fisheries Ireland and Shannon Fisheries Preservation and Development Company Ltd.
The waters involved in the Partnership are those areas of the Shannon catchment above the Ardnacrusha Hydro-electric Power Station over which the ESB has fishing rights.
In its latest annual report, the SFP says it has built on lessons learned in its previous work programmes and has developed “an extensive programme of instream and bank side works which will focus on the improvement of fish stock and fish habitat.”
Its works programme for the current year encompasses projects on the three above named rivers, to be carried out by the ESB, Inland Fisheries Ireland and angling clubs.
Among the objectives of the SFP are to enhance recreational angling and develop a rolling five-year strategic plan that incorporates fishery maintenace and enhancement.
The report identifies the Nenagh River as one of a number of tributaries of the River Shannon where works are planned for the current year.
“The main Nenagh River is an extremely valuable tributary of the Shannon as it holds a wild salmon population in addition to a healthy trout stock,” states the report, which also points to a concentrated numbers of coarse fish at the mouth of the river near Dromineer during spawning times.
“Habitat works and fisheries access works have continued since 2010 upon various areas of the Nenagh River,” state the authors of the report, which go on to outline works planned for the current year.
“The area to be worked upon in 2021 is the upper section in the Latteragh/Templederry areas and also in the mid-section of the Ollatrim tributary,” the report states, adding the work will be carried out in the waterways themselves and on the banks.
The Little Brosna, also known as The Camcor River, is described in the report as a renowned brown trout fishery which has a uniquely genetic brown trout known as “Croneen”. Works planned include the selective clearance of trees, branches and undergrowth in the “heavily tunnelled” sections of the river.
Even though its area does not include works below the Shannon from Parteen Weir, the SFP does state in its report that projects are taking place under the remit of the ESB which include replacing wooden angling related structures on the Mulkear River with galvanized metal replacements, to include both stiles and foot bridges. “In addition to these structural replacemens the fisheries signage will be reviewed and replaced where necessary.”
Other works outside the SFP area to be tackled in the current year include selective bank clearance on short sections of fishing beats along the Shannon itself at Castleconnell to facilitate unrestricted bank side angling activity.
The report states that the Castleconnell Fishery Association will undertake some selective spot treatment of the invasive plant species Himalayan Balsam and Giant Hogweed with glyphosate spraying.
Maintenance works are mentioned in the report for the current year at McNamara’s Lake near O' Briensbridge.
The report said the Ormond Angling Club had installed a fish counter at Ballyartella Weir on the Nenagh River and that the OPW had been very helpful in agreeing to provide a grid in front of the weir and counter to protect the counter from being damaged by debris coming down the river in high flood.
In relation to once thriving wild salmon stocks in the Shannon system, the report states that the building of the hydroelectric station at Ardnacrusha in the 1930s had “caused major changes for salmon in the river”.
It said other negative impacts on salmon populations included extensive drainage schemes in the catchment, water regulation, canalisation, intensive farming, afforestation, water pollution and increasing exploitation of marine habitats and lower survival rates for the salmon after they migrate to the sea.
The report said juvenile salmon restocking by the ESB of the Upper Shannon catchment was carried out in 2020. The Little Brosna and Big Brosna Rivers were restocked with autumn parr during October last year.
A total of 103,325 parr were released - over 42,500 in the Little Brosna and almost 60,800 in the Big Brosna.