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Norway alert on lice

By Derek Evans | The Irish Times

Gerry Heaslip's 'fish of a lifetime' from the River Dodder in Dublin. The trout weighed 3kg (6lb 9oz) and fell to a Peter Ross minnow pattern size 12, during the Miami Cup.Gerry Heaslip's 'fish of a lifetime' from the River Dodder in Dublin. The trout weighed 3kg (6lb 9oz) and fell to a Peter Ross minnow pattern size 12, during the Miami Cup.

NORWAY’S Directorate for Nature Management and the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (Nina) have issued a warning that salmon farming in Norway must be reduced during 2010.

The warning is directed to the new Minister for Fisheries, Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, a former head of the Norwegian salmon farming association and the owner of a salmon farm.

According to Norwegian press reports, Nina estimates that the current level of fish farming in Norway is six to seven times the sustainable limit. There are now 350 million farmed salmon in pens along the Norwegian coast, implying a sea lice burden of 300 to 350 million.

Sea lice are a major threat to migrating juvenile salmon – and therefore to the survival of wild stocks generally.

The Norwegian Salmon Association has said the situation is “a disaster”. It has also drawn attention to the increased resistance of sea lice to the main chemical treatment being used. They have called for a halt to further growth for the industry.

While the levels of farmed salmon production in Ireland are nowhere near those of Norway, farms do tend to be concentrated in particular areas, according to Salmon Watch Ireland.

The damage inflicted on migrating juvenile salmon by sea-lice concentrations generated by farms has also been researched by Irish scientists, and with conclusions similar to those carried out in Norway and Scotland.

Salmon Watch Ireland has lodged a complaint with the EU Commission about the problem, arguing that the Government is failing to apply the terms of the EU Habitats Directive to the management of salmon farms.

The Minister for Natural Resources, Conor Lenihan, and the Minister for Finance, his brother Brian, have co-signed an order cutting rod angling licence fees for 2010 by 10 per cent.

Proceeds from the new licence fees will be invested in management initiatives designed to rehabilitate wild salmon stocks and habitats. The licence includes a salmon conservation levy equivalent to 50 per cent of the licence fee.

“The reduction should enhance fishing as a recreational activity and supports the fisheries boards’ efforts toward building angling tourism numbers,” said Conor Lenihan. Licence fees for 2010 are: All regions (A): €120; one region (B): €58; 21-day (R): €46; 1-day (S): €32; juvenile (P): €18.

Salmon angling gets under way this Friday on a limited number of rivers and loughs. The Drowes River in Co Leitrim will take precedence.

Rarely does a season pass without a fish being taken on opening day.

The Owencarrow and Lackagh rivers also open on New Year’s Day in the northern region and trolling will be the preferred method on Lough Gill in Co Sligo.

In Dublin, the River Liffey is a different kettle of fish. Traditionally a first-day starter, however, for the past three years, salmon angling was suspended because of low sustainable levels.

As a concession from the Eastern Regional Fisheries Board, the river will open for salmon angling on January 1st and 2nd, but only at Islandbridge. Fishing will be strictly catch, tag and release. The river will then remain closed for salmon and sea trout angling for the remainder of the season.

The Loughs Agency in Northern Ireland reports that a number of anglers have had problems obtaining a rod licence for the new season. A game licence may be obtained weekdays from 9am to 5pm at 22 Victoria Road, Prehen, Derry, BT47 2AB.

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