I attended a meeting with Loughs Agency at Prehen on wednesday 4th April with two other FASTA representatives, David Nelson and Barney Winters. Working with the Loughs Agency we came up with a number of proposals and are at present waiting on a press release from the Loughs Agency. Many thanks to FASTA for continuing efforts over the winter on fighting the case against Dawnfresh Ltd . We are now hoping that they will step up and provide drop points for any rainbows caught that anglers do not want to keep. Below is just a summary of the points agreed.
Lady & Gents,
I will only summarise the agreed outcomes.
The following points 1-10 were discussed and action agreed, during a 2 hour FASTA meeting with the LA Senior Management team:
Loughs Agency delegation:
( Ms Sharon McMahon CEO, Mr John McCartney Conservation lead, Inspector Seamus Cullinan and Wallace Kennedy.)
(Terry Smithson, Brendan Winters & David Nelson).
1. Loughs Agency to draft and release an up to date situation report regarding the infestation of rainbow trout.
The purpose is to cascade an accurate and single message delivered to all the Angling community irrespective of current FASTA membership.
ACTION: LA to release the docment during the current working week.
2. Release the Ken Whelan report to FASTA.
Also make this document freely available to the entire community, via the LA communication platform.
ACTION: LA to release the document during the current working day.
3. Licenced Anglers to fish in an organised pattern to remove as many rainbow trout as possible from all the infested rivers.
ACTION: FASTA to cascade this request to affilate angling clubs / Private fishery managers.
In turn each seperate Angling body is to provide this request/direction to their own Angling membership.
FASTA recommend that local fishing management should now organise and pro-actively target rainbow trout in the most affected zones.
This Angling pressure must fall to the licenced membership of each individual club/Fishery.
It also must be within the individual boundary zones of each seperate fishing club/private waters.
Every management team is challenged by FASTA to plan, participate and deliver on this matter.
All Anglers can assist greatly to move the problem forward.
Seek the assistance of our Loughs Agency partners to plan and co-ordinate this mobilization.
4. Rainbow trout over 30cms/12 inches (Only) to be dispatched, retained, and left at an agreed pick up points for LA staff to collect.
Each club/private fishery to liaise & organise the process with the LA direct.
PURPOSE: The LA are keen to examine the origins of the larger rainbow trout.
ACTION: FASTA to cascade this information to the affiliate members.
Each organisation to manage this request indepentent of FASTA. Please take local ownership.
LA to report the uptake of their original request by the various and seperate fisher management teams.
5. LA request that an on the ground cull of the cormorant bird take place.
This is a pro-active response to the un precedented number of the fish injesting birds that are congregated at the various affected river sites.
This activity must be undertaken within the parameters of the Firearms (NI) order. Also within the constraints of each individual control licence.
ACTION: As per point 4. Action plan above.
6. LA have agreed to circulate an up to date report of the attempted rainbow trout clear up.
This will include future operational intention, given proper enviromental circumstance.
ACTION: As per point 2. Action plan above.
7. DAERA have not fulfilled a written and verbal commitment to meet with FASTA regarding the future bio-security planning at the Rock Lodge site.
LA CEO Sharon McMahon, has agreed to raise this issue with Senior Civil Servant grade 5, to whom DAERA are accountable.
ACTION: To be reported on by Sharon McMahon. Revisit by FASTA team within 2 working weeks
8. FASTA request, that given the multi-agency committments dropping out of Rocks Lodge fish farm, one Senior Civil Servant should be appointed to have overall command, control of the project.
FASTA suggested that this management practice could remedy and deconflict the various individual agency priorites.
There would also be a clear line in terms of future accountability. This would generate confidence from within our Angling community.
LA CEO, Sharon McMahon is to follow this matter up.
ACTION: As per point 7. Action plan above.
9. FASTA reported that George Thompson has recently been engaged on operational issues at the Rocks Lodge site. This action is on behalf of the River Agency.
Clarification was sought by the FASTA team, to understand the purpose of this work and how it fitted into the DAERA Rocks Lodge project.
This matter is to be followed up by the LA CEO Sharon McMahon.
ACTION: As per point 7. Action plan above.
10. LA will verbally brief Anglers and provide handouts at the upcoming North West Fishing Fair 2018, in Strabane. This is during the Weekend of 7th & 8th April.
Ken Whelan will also be available to answer questions regarding the rainbow trout issue.
ACTION: FASTA to brief all affiliate fishing groups.
In turn, FASTA management request that each Fishing management group are to cascade the LA communication plan, to their user group, via social media platforms.
FASTA CENTRAL & GENERAL COMMITTEE REQUEST:
Please treat all the Loughs Agency party with respect and dignity.
FASTA fully understans that the rainbow trout infestation/pollution incident is a highly emotive subject matter to all game Anglers.
The LA staff are the lead agency on the conservation issue alone. The LA staff are all as equally concerned about the seriousness of the situation that we Angling community face.
It must be stressed that the LA staff are partners with FASTA in moving this problem forward.
So let us all engage our focus and energy as a team and pull hard in the same direction.
“DOING NOTHING IS NOT AN OPTION”.
In summing up, Terry, Brendan and myself are delighted with the business of our meeting with the Loughs Agency on Wed 4th April 2018 at 12:00.
FASTA wish to extend our thanks to Sharon, John, Seamus and Wallace for this timely meeting.