Councillor Bobby Fitzgerald at a recent meeting of South Tipperary County Council tabled a Notice of Motion calling on the Council to write to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Marine Simon Coveney TD requesting that safe guards and stroke legislation be introduced to prohibit prawn bait fishing on the river Suir. Speaking to his Motion Cllr. Fitzgerald expressed the view that Atlantic salmon are in danger and need our help. In supporting his view he quoted from the Welsh novelist George Borrow’s ‘Wild Wales’ published in 1854 “For dinner we had salmon and a leg of mutton; the salmon from the neighbouring Berwyn.
The salmon was good enough but I had eaten better, and here it will not be amiss to say that the best salmon in the world is caught in the river Suir, a river that flows past the beautiful town of Clonmel in Ireland”.
Cllr. Fitzgerald said salmon presently appear on the red list of endangered fish species and if we cannot protect salmon in the seas we can in our rivers, and in doing so return the river Suir to its former glory.
Inland Fisheries Ireland with the support of anglers has made a substantial investment in the catch and release system but the use of prawn bait fishing is nothing more than commercial angling under another name. This is particularly relevant in areas of low water where salmon shoal together in pools of water to get condensed oxygen and cannot resist the prawn bait. This amounts to monofilament netting.
Continuing, he said the same generations of salmo salor have been spawning in the Suir in the same areas since time immemorial and the salmon respects the natural habitat of the river by not feeding on the eco system. The river Suir has a fifty seven feet drop from Clonmel to Carrick on Suir, it is a tidal river and this is conducive to good fly and spinning fishing for salmon due to fast water. The largest salmon caught in Irish waters was in 1874 when a man named Maher reeled in his famous 57 pounds fish. The fish was caught with a fly and not with prawn bait, and we need to realise that fishing is a sport with most anglers conservatively minded. He also made the point that if we have no fish we have no fishermen and therefore a drop in tourists, so simple economics warrants the ban on prawn bait fishing. The present flaws in the quota system together with the lack of a salmon counter on the Suir are resulting in stocks of salmon being overstated.
Cllr. Fitzgerald is delighted that he received cross party support for his Motion as well as unanimous agreement from all the members of South Tipperary Council, and he asks for support for the ban from any of the public who are genuinely interested in the river Suir.