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Annexes to the Minutes of Evidence

Where in any of the following submissions, graphs, photos, maps, extracts from any books or magazines have been ommitted, these will be available for viewing in the Northern Ireland Assembly Library, for Members of the Legislative Assembly and the Committee Office for the general public.

Annex Title

Annex 1: Hillmount Properties (NI) Ltd

Annex 2: Ulster Coarse Fishing Federation

Annex 3: Agivey Anglers Association

Annex 4: The River Faughan Anglers Ltd

Annex 5: North Antrim Anglers Association

Annex 6: Additional submission from North Antrim Anglers Association

Annex 7: Braid Angling Club

Annex 8: Fermanagh Anglers Association

Annex 9: Moyola & District Angling Club

Annex 10: Bann System Ltd

Annex 11: Ulster Angling Federation Ltd

Annex 12: Additional submission from the Ulster Angling Federation Ltd

Annex 13: Mr Harold Avery

Annex 14: Additional submission from Mr Harold Avery

Annex 15: Mr Thomas Conlon

Annex 16: Messrs H Avery, T Conlon, D Brown, and F Quigley

Annex 17: Additional information from Mr Newell McCreight



17 February 2000

I write in response to articles written in the Newsletter relating to an Inquiry to be carried out by your Committee into the condition of Inland Fisheries in Northern Ireland.

Our interest in this is that we own a stretch of the River Maine at Cullybackey on which we allow the Maine Angling Club to fish and we have a friendly and constructive relationship which has led to habitat enhancement works being carried out under the Salmonid Enhancement Project among other things.

On the same stretch of river we are also involved in generating electricity from 2 Water Turbines at Harperstown. The weir for these was built in c.1770 and the original water wheel was replaced in 1883 by a water turbine and a second turbine was added in 1927. All this plant was updated in 1994 and they now operate under the NFFO scheme supplying Northern Ireland with Renewable Energy.

For the past 5 years two people in particular have led a vendetta against those, like ourselves, who own or operate water turbines and not least against members of the staff of Fisheries Division of the Department of Agriculture. It is to counter such arguments that I now write and I would ask you to consider the following facts before you allow yourselves to be taken in by arguments forwarded by such people.


Water power is not new to Northern Ireland. In the 1880's 100's of water turbines were installed to replace water wheels. Robert Craig and Sons of Belfast had installed 35 by 1920 and until the decline in the textile industry in the 1960's, on the River Maine alone there were 20 turbines in operation between Dunminning and Lough Neagh (Duminning - 1, Dromona - 2, Hillmount - 4, Cullybackey - 2, Lisnafillon - 2, Hollybank - 1, Randalstown - 5, Shanes Castle - 1) and this does not include the small turbines at Wade's or Gaston's Mills on the Clough further up or any of the waterwheels between Criagsland and Cloughmills and Loughguile that continued to scutch flax and beetle cloth. All of these made use of the water in the river to power machinery and provided 1000's of jobs and it was the same on the Six Mile Water, the Blackwater, the Callan, the Clady, the upper Bann, the Mourne and other rivers in Northern Ireland. For apart from steam, water power was the only source of energy and as such it was and still is of substantial value to the welfare of Northern Ireland's economy.


Records of fish catches in the past on the River Maine have never been kept or of the number of salmon or dollaghan entering the river each season. Therefore there is really no factual evidence to support the view that fishing today on this river is worse than 70 years ago; anecdotally, however, everyone "remembers" that the fishing was much better in the past. One explanation for this is that there were very few anglers on largely unfished waters whereas the exact opposite is true today and with ever more efficient techniques and equipment anglers expectations are higher than ever.

What people tend to forget is that this so called "golden period" 70 years ago coincided with a period of industrial expansion particularly in the textile industry where undeniably there were fish kills caused by the release of water from lint dams that happened every year and that there were many more water turbines than there are now, all using water to provide power to their mills or bleach greens.


Salmon Smolts

From the mid C18 up until 1995, the 5 water wheels and the subsequent 4 water turbines at Hillmount all operated with no protection for smolts. There were, however, upstream racks to stop sticks, leaves and spent fish from passing through the turbines. Legislation was introduced in the 1966 Fisheries Act to provide screens to stop smolts passing through the turbines. This was universally disregarded by water power operators because of the problem of keeping the screens clean and was nowhere enforced by the Fisheries Authorities up until 1995 as there was no evidence that smolts were damaged or killed and this is true today.

From 1995 to date, NFFO and the deregulation of electricity supply has allowed the rejuvenation of some 12 water power sites in Northern Ireland, a small fraction of what there used to be. I am not aware of smolts being killed or damaged by turbines at any of these water power sites.

Returning Salmon and Dollaghan

Following advice from Fisheries Division access now to most tailraces for returning fish is denied by an electric fish barrier rather than a rack. In our experience this has proved to be extremely effective. Experience at Harperstown has shown that

In recent months (Sept - Nov) allegations against Herdman's of Sion Mills have been in the Press. An investigation carried out by the Foyle Fisheries Commission concluded that the dead salmon had come from of a pollution incident upstream (I have a copy of this). Certainly the evidence that they were already rotting and that the adjacent plastic bag contained slime from rotten fish would indicate that they were right.

Water Abstraction

I am aware of the legislation applied by the Environment Agency in England and Wales and of the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 which replaced the Water Act (Northern Ireland) 1972.

Any attempt by Government to implement Abstraction Licences and a Scheme of Charges will be resisted not just by water power users but also those industries who use water for process. The cost of compensating those who will have suffered loss as a result of alteration or diminution of their Water Rights may be considerable.

Notwithstanding the above, this gives no one the right to stop the natural migration of fish by taking so much water so that this cannot happen or so that the welfare of fish populations is affected. This is where commonsense and goodwill in the past prevailed. The Fisheries legislation that is in place does protect fish; but where and when such protection is unnecessary or inappropriate, it should not be used to interfere with the rights of other water users. This is where a proper perspective of the requirements for fish migration relative to the existing use of water power is needed.


You should be aware of the Report carried out by Ballinderry Fish Hatchery and sponsored by the Department of Economic Development and Northern Ireland Electricity to examine the effect of NFFO hydro schemes on angling. We were one of the schemes that was scrutinised. While we have not yet seen this Report, we are confident that it was carried out in a professional manner and that any recommendations that are made will accord with what I have said in the previous paragraph.


If fish are to thrive in our rivers, what are the changes that have occurred in the last 70 years which now are preventing this?

In 1904 the rainfall in the River Maine catchment area was 40" much the same as it is today and between Scutch Mills, Beetling Engines, Bleach Greens and Dye Works, Weaving Sheds and Spinning Mills, there were some 98 individual concerns on the head waters of the river Maine, all using water for power and process and all of them allegedly abstracting and polluting (particularly the release of flax water from lint dams). You might think that it would be reasonable to expect that the disappearance of 92 of these over the intervening years has lead to a great improvement in our Water Resources which would benefit the changes for fish to survive. However the opposite appears to be true.

(a) Drainage Schemes and Domestic Supply

Government, in its wisdom, has seen fit to execute a number of Drainage Schemes on this and many other rivers, specifically lowering the water table by channelising and deepening the water courses (see Environmental Impacts of Channelisation on the River Maine Professor David Wilcock, University of Ulster, 1989). This not only has altered the flow pattern in our river by making the flow more "flashy" but also destroyed the spawning beds (now to some degree restored) and equally importantly the areas (both in terms of water and food supply) where juveniles spend their first year. Higher water velocities has led to bank erosion and to the spread of fine silty gravel that continually fills up areas for fish to live.

In addition to this, the increase in the need for domestic supplies of water has required the building of reservoirs at Dungonnell and Killylane and the sinking of bore holes in what used to be the Glarryford Bog and Buckna with the result that this abstraction has lead to a reduction in the overall quantity of water in the river. Less quantity particularly in summer inevitably leads to less quality as discharges of effluent may become more concentrated.

(b) Pollution

The above situation has been exacerbated, firstly, by the developments promoted by Government in agriculture with the consequence that slurry and silage effluent are disposed of on the land which as a result of the now improved drainage, ends up directly in watercourses and secondly, (and quite insidiously) the ever increasing extent of rural housing each with its washing machine and dish washer and hose pipe for washing the car and septic tank discharging directly into streams or underground drains which in the now low summer flows cannot help but cause damage to water quality.

While pollution incidents are "policed" by the Fisheries Conservancy Board, it is the cumulative effect of this urbanisation of the countryside that has been easy to overlook.

No one will accept responsibility for the dumping of carcases in the river, these include sheep/lambs, calves frequently put in a fertilizer bag, chickens also in bags, dogs and cats. All of these contribute to the deterioration of water quality in the river.

(c) Poachers

Certainly "snigging" used to occur at Hillmount but it was carried out by local people augmenting their diet but not as means of making money. Today there is no poaching because of the number of anglers interested in the Maine Angling Club and our own involvement would make it extremely difficult.

I know that the situation is very different at Randalstown where poaching is rife to the extent of many hundreds salmon and dollaghan each year (the FCB have video tapes of this). This is carried out by young boys who are protected from prosecution by virtue of their age. However those in the background who sell the fish have avoided detection and the involvement of the Randalstown Angling Club should be considered.

(d) Anglers

Much has been written in the Press about the introduction of a tagging system both to prevent poached fish being sold and to control the number of fish being killed by anglers. We have anglers here who have caught 5 salmon in one day and even last year one man caught 3 in a day. All were caught on the shrimp and, sadly, they were all killed.


I have tried to show that water power has been part of Northern Ireland for over 200 years and its importance has been paramount to our country's prosperity in the past; it still has a role to play in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels in the future.

However, we do understand that we share this natural renewable resource with all sorts of other people, from those who depend on it like us for their livelihood in industry or farming, down to those who enjoy it for leisure activities in canoeing and angling.

Over the last 40 years we have worked together with the Maine Angling Club to preserve a pleasant environment for future generations and it is just such co-operation that is needed now to help rejuvenate our industrial heritage and to see how all river users can, by joining in research and sharing in knowledge, work together with courtesy, commonsense and goodwill for the benefit of all.


(1) There is no evidence either from the past or at present that the water turbines at Harperstown have had any detrimental effect on fish stocks or on angling.

(2) There is evidence based on observations at Harperstown that water quality is frequently poor, that river flow patterns have changed since the Maine Drainage Scheme, that bank erosion upstream is ongoing.

I will be happy to give further evidence if required or indeed to show members of your Committee our plant at Harperstown.


Annex 2


22 February 2000




The Ulster Coarse Fishing Federation (UCFF) is a semi-autonomous Provincial Council of the National Coarse Fishing Federation of Ireland (NCFFI), the governing body of the sport in Ireland. The NCFFI was formed through an alliance of angling clubs and tourist associations in 1960 and in order to allow a greater degree of local involvement the four Provincial Councils were formed in 1976.


The main functions of the UCFF are to service the requirements of its member clubs and to promote the sport of coarse angling. To advance these aims we encourage the conservation, protection and enhancement of facilities suitable for coarse angling thereby ensuring that quality coarse angling product is available for the local and tourist angler alike.


The UCFF is a voluntary organisation with some 15 member clubs in Ulster. Our parent body the NCFFI represents some 55 clubs throughout Ireland. We function on a daily basis through a voluntary executive committee elected by member clubs that also meets through regular delegate meetings. We are modestly funded via club subscriptions and individual fees from the various angling events that we organise. Additionally we are in receipt of a small Sports Council for Northern Ireland grant as a recognised governing body of sport in the Province.


The UCFF has links through our parent body with various European and World angling organisations i.e. European Anglers' Alliance and Confederation Internationale de la Peche Sportive. The UCFF is consistently a first point of contact in Northern Ireland for those requiring information on coarse angling in the Province. The UCFF also frequently forms partnerships with other groups such as consultancy firms, District Councils and tourism organisations to report on, develop and promote Northern Ireland coarse angling. Indeed in the past we have travelled to England and Europe with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board on angling promotional trips.




The UCFF strongly recommends that the essential inland fisheries functions of conservation, protection, improvement and development be unified within a single Northern Ireland Fisheries Authority (NIFA).


The UCFF recommends that a programme of inland fisheries enhancement should be undertaken in Northern Ireland.


The UCFF recommends that coarse fish caught for commercial markets in Northern Ireland be given the same level of protection as salmonid species.


The UCFF recommends that pro-active measures should be taken to improve the bio-diversity of Northern Ireland's fisheries.


The UCFF recommends that the 1966 Fisheries Act be amended to rectify the anomaly whereby all waters in Northern Ireland are classed as game fisheries unless otherwise designated.


The UCFF notes present government policy on 'The right to roam' and 'Access to the countryside'. We recommend that traditional sporting and fishing rights be protected from this policy.


The UCFF recommends that, notwithstanding the future structure for fisheries management recommended by the Committee, the principle of democratic representation be adhered to.


The UCFF recommends that resources be made available to any future fisheries management structure to allow them to fully catalogue Northern Ireland's fishing and sporting rights.


Submission to the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly - Inquiry into Inland Fisheries - Background


The background to Inland Fisheries management in Northern Ireland is well documented beginning with the formation of the Fisheries Conservancy Board for Northern Ireland (FCB) and the 1966 Fisheries Act. That Act divided the responsibilities for Inland Fisheries between the then Ministry for Agriculture and the FCB. The Ministry, later the Department, was vested with overall responsibility for Inland Fisheries and also the Fisheries development role. The FCB had functions relating to conservation, protection and improvement. Between 1966 and the late 1970's it became clear that confusion was arising between the conflicting role of the then DANI and the FCB. The Department had exercised its functions through the creation of a Public angling estate but without proper funding to maintain or improve the facility. The FCB had never been funded to exercise its improvement role and indeed it was solely self-funded through licence duties and agency fees to undertake its statutory functions.


The majority Black committee report of 1980 attempted to resolve this issue. It recommended that while DANI should retain the overall legislative and sponsoring function, the development, improvement, protection and conservation functions relating to Inland Fisheries should fall within the remit of a Central Fisheries Authority (CFA) based on the FCB. This recommended course of action would have resolved the conflict of functions confusion and would also have dovetailed into the structures that were being developed in the Republic of Ireland (ROI). These structures saw the Department of the Marine retaining the legislative function and other functions devolved to a Central and a network of Regional Fisheries Boards. The direct rule government at the time, despite an Assembly recommendation, rejected the Black report and indeed went a step further by transferring the improvement function from the FCB to DANI. This in effect ensured that only the public angling estate was to be managed as a fisheries resource while the rest of waters in Northern Ireland remained undeveloped or fell into private ownership.


The net effect of these policies has resulted in a situation where Northern Ireland's fisheries have fallen far behind comparable resources in the ROI. The UCFF would content that the basis for this situation has resulted from two main deficiencies:

  • The level of direct subvention from the Department of the Marine to the Central and Regional Fisheries Boards in the ROI has over the years greatly exceeded, pro rata, that from Central Government to DANI Fisheries Division. While strict fiscal policies during the 1970's and 1980's can often be quoted for this as can the unsettled political climate of that era. Nevertheless when one realises that in excess of 125,000 tourist anglers visit the ROI each year the short sightedness of this approach can be seen in the loss of tourist income to the Northern Ireland economy.
  • During the past years the Regional Fisheries Boards in the ROI have been able to draw down very significant levels of European funding for fisheries development. This source of additional resources has generally not been directly available to Government departments in Northern Ireland and the net result of this has been to further widen the gap between our fisheries infrastructures in Northern Ireland and those in the ROI.


In recent weeks the situation regarding Inland Fisheries within Northern Ireland has become even more convoluted. The Foyle Fisheries Commission has been dissolved and replaced by the Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission (FCILC). This Commission will be responsible for inland fisheries within the drainage area of the Foyle and Carlingford Loughs despite these two areas being greatly geographically divorced.


Currently within Northern Ireland a situation exists where:

  • The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has responsibility for management of the Public Angling Estate and angling development.
  • The FCB, under the sponsorship of DCAL, has responsibility for conservation and protection within the greater part of Northern Ireland.
  • The FCILC, under the sponsorship of DARDNI, has responsibility for angling development, conservation and protection within the Foyle and Carlingford areas.
  • Some major catchment areas such as the Lower Bann are in private ownership i.e. Bann System Limited.
  • Some District Councils are actively developing and promoting fisheries resources within their area

This is an extremely high level of complexity and duplicity for a relatively under-developed fisheries resource.


Submission to the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly - inquiry into Inland Fisheries - Recommendations.


The UCFF strongly recommends that the essential inland fisheries functions of conservation, protection, improvement and development be unified within a single Northern Ireland Fisheries Authority (NIFA).

As detailed elsewhere in this submission the current fragmented structures involved in inland fisheries within Northern Ireland are clearly unsustainable, over-bureaucratic and barriers to further enhancement of our fisheries resources. At its simplest level the majority of the Public Angling Estate is being managed by DCAL, with the FCB exercising the conservation and protection function in that area. In the Foyle and Carlingford areas those functions are deferred to FCILC, with DARDNI being its sponsoring Department. This situation is clearly blatant duplicity and inefficient.

There is a clear case for significant cross border co-operation within angling development in Ireland. Many of our major catchments such as the Blackwater, Erne or Foyle are cross border rivers. Angling tourists often spend some of their time in Ireland fishing on both sides of the border. It is common to find English anglers fishing in Enniskillen and staying in Belturbet and vice versa. However, the current structures militate against meaningful co-operation in developing resources and facilities for maximum respect.

The UCFF would contend that a NIFA based around the existing FCB and structured similarly to the Regional Fisheries Board in the ROI would be a more suitable vehicle for development of our inland fisheries resource. Cross border co-operation within inland fisheries could be enhanced by the NIFA becoming part of the Regional Fisheries Boards network and the Central Fisheries Board having cross border involvement.

We have argued elsewhere in this submission that angling facilities are significantly below those in the ROI. The present structure without very significant cash injections will not be able to address this deficit. Even with a high level of cash injection the present duplicity and bureaucracy would undoubtedly ensure that monies would be wasted. A NIFA would, we contend, be in a better position to give value for money from public funds as well as being able to source alternative sources of European funding not available to Government.


The UCFF recommends that a programme of inland fisheries enhancement should be undertaken in Northern Ireland.

The angling tourism market is increasing annually within Europe and indeed around the world. However, as travel becomes easier competitiveness increases. The tourist angler is now confronted with many additional destinations seeking to lure him or her to their shores. In recent years Denmark, Sweden and Holland have started to compete with Ireland for the traditional England coarse angler tourist.

The angler can now afford to pick and choose from the facilities on offer. He/she will pay more attention to detail and will insist on premier facilities before choosing his/her destination. No longer will the tourist angler pay for the privilege of dragging himself through 2-3 muddy fields or over flooded ditches to reach a broken stand on a lake that has not seen its stock managed for years.

The fisheries authorities in the ROI have seen this trend and have been in a position over recent years to address the problem by significantly upgrading their facilities. If Northern Ireland has any pretensions of competing in this angling tourism market then the quality of the product will need significant enhancement.


The UCFF recommends that coarse fish caught for commercial marks in Northern Ireland be given the same level of protection as salmonid species.

Commercial exploitation of inland fisheries has been a traditional industry within Northern Ireland for many years. Most of the activity is centred in Loughs Erne and Lough Neagh and the majority catch is eels. However, there is a smaller but no less significant industry based on scale fish capture. On Loughs Erne the principal catch is pike with some bream also taken, while on Lough Neagh, Pike, Perch, Pollan, Trout and Bream are all targeted.

While the UCFF recognises that this is a traditional industry that has a place within the overall fisheries management structure we would question whether there is sufficient regulation of this effort. Fermanagh's Lough Erne is being marketed world wide as Northern Ireland's premier destination. The majority of English tourist anglers coming to Northern Ireland are attracted to this particular location and increasingly continental anglers from Germany, Switzerland and Austria are being targeted to come to the Erne to fish for pike. The UCFF would question whether the right image is being portrayed when this premier fishery within the public angling estate is being commercially fished for pike and bream, the very species that tourist anglers are hoping to catch.

The situation on Lough Neagh is significantly different since the Lough is essentially a private fishery largely outside public control. However it should be remembered that the stocks of the Upper Bann and Blackwater are dependent on activities within Lough Neagh. Nevertheless on balance we believe that Lough Neagh can sustain a regulated scale fish fishery without detriment. There is however an important proviso. Where a legal industry exists some individuals will stray outside the law and over the years there have been many cases of illegal netting activity in many of Northern Ireland's smaller lakes and Loughs, principally for pike stocks. In comparison to other countries where commercial pike fishing is prohibited Northern Ireland's pike stocks are inferior especially for prized larger fish. The UCFF notes with interest that consideration is being given elsewhere to further protection for salmon and we would recommend to the Committee that a best commercial capture of pike in Northern Ireland should be prohibited or at worst afforded the protection given to salmonid species.


The UCFF recommends that pro-active measures should be taken to improve the bio-diversity of Northern Ireland's fisheries.

A combination of factors ranging from the effects of the last ice-age, which isolated many of our waters before full colonisation could occur, to an inactive management regime over the last forty years, has resulted in a situation where the fish species bio-diversity in many of our waters is seriously deficient compared to our main competitors.

Virtually every coarse angling water for example in the ROI will contain the full remit of species sought by the local and tourist coarse angler. Most will contain Rudd, Roach, Bream, Perch and Pike while a significant number will also contain Tench. An increasing number are also being stocked with Carp. By comparison in Northern Ireland only a handful of waters will contain Rudd, Roach, Bream, Perch and Pike while less than a dozen will have Tench and none will have had Carp introduced, at least legally.

The UCFF recommends that whatever fisheries management structure is finally in place following this review the range and stocks of species in our fisheries should be increased in a controlled and disease free manner.


The UCFF recommends that the 1966 Fisheries Act be amended to rectify the anomaly whereby all waters in Northern Ireland are classed as game fisheries unless otherwise designated.

Ireland is awash with lakes and ponds. Countries in Northern Ireland such as Down, Armagh and Tyrone have as many lakes as there are days in the year. Most of these waters as detailed elsewhere are very deficient in fish species, nevertheless the local and tourist angler appreciates a challenge and would welcome the opportunity to try these uncharted waters.

Technically however to do so in most cases would be breaking the law. Due to shortsightedness in the 1966 Act all waters in Northern Ireland, from the largest Lough to the smallest farm pond, begin with the designation of game fisheries. Only by bylaw can waters be subsequently designated as coarse fisheries. This process is detrimental to future expansion and development of our fisheries in Northern Ireland.

Consequently the UCFF recommends that the Committee give thought to rectifying this anomaly.


The UCFF notes present government policy on 'The right to roam' and 'Access to the countryside'. We recommend that traditional sporting and fishing rights be protected from this policy.

Present government policy seems committed to increasing the public right of access to the countryside. Traditionally anglers, angling clubs and associations have enjoyed very good relations with landowners and farmers. Many clubs have negotiated fishing rights on lakes and rivers with landowners and these partnerships invariably are beneficial to the environment since the leased waters are carefully managed and protected by the anglers.

These leases and arrangements are generally secured on a commercial basis and in many cases the rents from fisheries can be an important income to the farming community. The UCFF would be concerned if 'Right to roam' legislation resulted in excessive public access on these traditional sporting areas and we therefore recommend that protection of traditional sporting leases be incorporated into future legislation.


The UCFF recommends that, notwithstanding the future structure for fisheries management recommended by the Committee, the principle of democratic representation be adhered to.

It can be argued that one of the main factors responsible for the current state of the angling estate in Northern Ireland has been the lack of trust by the angler in the current fisheries management structure. Anglers have regarded Fisheries Division as civil servants with little feel for grass roots issues. Undoubtedly Fisheries Division regarded anglers as a perpetual nuisance without whom fisheries would run better.

Despite some difficulties in obtaining consensus with a large number of conflicting interests it is vital that the customers are represented, not just at advisory level, but at executive level in any future fisheries management structure. The UCFF therefore recommends that the Committee resist calls to reduce customer executive representation on future fisheries management structures.


The UCFF recommends that resources be made available to any future fisheries management structure to allow them to fully catalogue Northern Ireland's fishing and sporting rights.

The future development of fisheries and the creation of new fisheries in Northern Ireland could be significantly inhibited because of the confusing situation pertaining to fishing rights on Northern Ireland's waters. Our chequered historical past has resulted in a situation whereby landowners may not own the fishing rights to waters on their land.

This may not be a problem to casual anglers, however clubs or authorities wishing to develop a fishery are often faced with a time consuming and costly search procedure to ascertain title.

The UCFF therefore recommend that the Committee consider allocating resources to any new fisheries management structure to allow a catalogue of titles and rights to be drawn up.



There can be no doubt that the inland fisheries of Northern Ireland could be one of our best recreational, leisure and tourist assets. There is also no doubt that the current state of our inland fisheries leaves us well down the league table compared to our neighbours and competitors. More worryingly the current management structures for fisheries in Northern Ireland are a complicated 'mish mash' that would be unlikely, even with significant additional funding, to be able to rectify the situation.

It is the view of the Ulster Coarse Fishing Federation that only a fundamental review and total overhaul of the current fisheries management structures will be able to fulfil Northern Ireland's local recreational and tourist angling potential.


Annex 3






The Agivey Anglers Association is a very proactive Association representing the interests of approximately 600 anglers on the Agivey River system, a tributary of the River Bann. The Association has been in existence over 25 years and has managed all facets of the river system very successfully. Extensive experience and acquired practical knowledge has been gained in the following areas:-

  • Successful river management over 25 years.
  • Salmon hatchery management over 10 years.
  • Habitat enhancement to improve potential returns.
  • Fishery protection (Voluntary but essential).


Executive Summary

It is now clearly accepted that the Atlantic Salmon is in drastic decline. The factors causing this are many and diverse, the main factors in our opinion are reduction in numbers of returning Salmonoids and deterioration of river habitat.

One step which will be of immediate benefit to numbers of returning Salmonids is removal of all commercial nets.

This must then be supported by improvement to Fishery management which includes pollution, poaching, predation, arterial drainage and enhancement. To achieve these goals in a place as small as Northern Ireland, it would be sensible to have one overall governing body representing all fishery interests, instead of the current structures which appear to have failed.

These points along with others are expanded in the following sections.





The management and conservation of Northern Ireland fishing has in the past been under the control of three separate bodies, Fishery Conservatory Board (FCB), Department of Agriculture (DOA), and Foyle Fisheries. This has to be unrealistic as lack of communication between departments results in duplication of effort and contradiction of policies and aims. It would be more practical to have one overall governing body with powers to prosecute all offenders with regard to poaching and pollution. (no exceptions). This body should be made up of staff from the existing departments and include representatives from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure with strong representation from the angling fraternity. However the make-up of the new body should not be crippled by bureaucracy and unsympathetic management, but be more practical with resources being used at the sharp end, dealing with poaching, pollution etc. This can only be achieved by providing more bailiffs who are invaluable. They are the people who carry out the policies on the ground, liasing with the angling community and providing feed back to management.


Fishery Protection

Future investment of both the long term and short term into fishing management and fishing protection should be carefully considered with all relevant organisations being consulted prior to any decisions made. In the past where programmes were brought in without proper consultation they either failed totally or were a complete shambles with one half not knowing what the other half was doing. The depth of management requires careful consideration as do the aims and what is to be achieved, none of the above means anything if the proper steps are not taken to monitor and assess the total overall programmes. With the amount of investment used by the custodians of all rivers in Northern Ireland ie the Clubs and Associations over the past ten years it surely makes sense to involve these in any future strategy as the amount of knowledge they have gained is priceless in River management, re-stocking, conservation, poaching and pollution incidents.





Pollution has been and remains a major threat to all our inland waters. It is a very extensive subject and to date has not received the focus and funding necessary to combat it effectively. To many of us pollution exhibits itself on the news with the reporting of another major fish kill on a waterway. This at the time is locally disastrous but in many cases with time and effort full recovery can be achieved. The most dangerous forms of pollution today are causing slow but continuous degradation to practically all our water system, and if left unchecked will lead to terminal decline.

The range of pollutants and pollution methods is huge and extending daily as ever more intensive farming methods are introduced. This type of pollution can only be addressed by concentrated effort at government level and highlights the need for a single body responsible for all aspects of water management and fisheries. It will require a strategic long term approach which is truly independent and has the authority to act on behalf of the environment instead of other powerful interests as in the case today. The current government bodies are a complete failure in structure, independence and common objectives. It is nearly impossible to determine who is responsible for what. For example how can fisheries policy be regarded as independent when it is structured within the Department of Agriculture. How can it be justified that major pollution caused by the DOE from sewage treatment plants is exempt from any form of prosecution. This is the equivalent of saying that a policeman is exempt from prosecution simply because he is a policeman. A simple objective view must conclude that a single independent body with clearly defined responsibilities, clearly published objectives and allocated the authority and associated budget would be infinitely more effective than the existing structures.

Each of the causes of pollution would require a thesis in their own right to do justice to the subject. This however is a level of detail which will automatically be dealt with and prioritised if the appropriate body with well defined objectives is put in place.

As an Angling Association we have seen numerous pollution incidents on the Agivey the most common forms are: Silage effluent, slurry, farm pesticides, dips, detergents, animal carcass and offal dumping. We have also had a serious oil spillage incident and many problems with wash off materials from quarries and industrial yards. These as I mentioned earlier are the obvious and usually detectable incidents because they occur intensively over a short period of time and can be quantified.

It is now generally agreed among the fishing fraternity that the eco-systems of our rivers and lakes is deteriorating. For example any angular with 25+ years of experience will highlight the loss of many varieties of previously common insects. Aquatic varieties are also less numerous and are made up of the varieties most tolerant of pollution etc. These changes are pointers and symptoms and should not be ignored. Without the food sources in a balanced eco-system the whole system collapses. This form of evidence does not create news headlines in the way a fish kill does but is systematic and more dangerous as a result.



Arterial drainage combined with peat extraction have over the years combined to give another serious problem. In years gone by after heavy rain a river would gradually rise over a period of maybe two days and fall away again over three to five days. Now we have so much arterial drainage that we are close to flash flooding. The river rises in a matter of hours and falls away just as rapidly. The high rates of run off cause damage to river banks, carry high levels of sediment and suspended peat etc which clogs up gravel essential for spawning fish. Previously stable stone area on rivers which is essential juvenile fish habitat has also been reduced due to erosion and excessively high flow rates. The opposite is also the case in that very low flow occurs during dry spells because the land is now so well drained that storage and gradual run off are minimal. A further detrimental factor in this area is the excessive removal of our peat bogs which in essence were acting like large storage sponges. This also contributes to high level of eroded peat from the worked and drained areas of bog causing increased siltation of spawning gravel. During these very low flow periods the river is very susceptible to serious damage from pollution. The low flow retains high concentration of pollutants before dilution and as a result aquatic life has a much longer period of exposure, low flow and high concentrations of nitrogenous and phosphate fertilizers is also inducing algae blooms even in rivers where this was rarely known.



Turbines are becoming an increasing danger on our rivers due to the so called environmentally friendly policy towards renewable energy. The ideology is sound but planning, implementation, environmental impact and follow up improvement or compliance with requirements are conspicuously missing.

Turbines can cause a lot of damage particularly to smolts and young fry but with proper planning and appropriate use of fry guards damage could be minimised.

At present is it not necessary to obtain planning permission for installation of a turbine which we feel is a serious omission form current NI planning legislation. Furthermore little serious consideration is given to environmental impact studies before installations are commenced. These studies should include a strict checklist of minimum criterion which if not fully met result in planning rejection. The criterion should look seriously at the status of any river regarding migratory fish making it more difficult to obtain planning permission on rivers already severely impacted by reduced runs of migratory fish. In the present circumstances these criterion should stop any new installations on particularly our smaller rivers until the situation has significantly improved.

In complete contradiction to environmental protection there are turbines running today with exemption from the use of fry guards. This is totally unacceptable given the decline particularly in Salmon stocks and the need to protect every last fry.

Again a good policy objectively defined, implemented consistently, monitored, and consequential actions followed up would go a long way towards reducing this risk. Further justification for an independent body dealing with all water and fishing related areas.


Water Abstraction

The parallels between turbines and water abstraction are particularly identical. The additional danger with abstraction is during naturally low flow periods which often coincides with need for high abstraction is leaving a river at a dangerously low flow level. This uncovers productive aquatic area reducing feeding. It reduces oxygenation a consequence of reduced area and flow. It increases the danger from pollutants as previously described.

Again a good policy objectively defined, implemented consistently, monitored, and consequential actions followed up would go a long way towards reducing this risk. Further justification for an independent body dealing with all water and fishing related areas.



Salmon fry and smolts are heavily predated throughout their life cycle by various species. On our inland waters the numbers of cormorants particularly has increased dramatically. These are voracious and efficient catchers of smolts. With protection now in place the number of cormorants seems to have increased dramatically. Some have suggested that the percentage of cormorants fishing inland has increased due to pressure of numbers in the coastal areas and also reduction of their natural feeding eg sand eels.

The situation needs close monitoring and effective control brought to bear if determined necessary. We are certainly seeing many more cormorants further inland than ever before.

A further consequence of protection is a large increase in the seal population around the UK. This puts further pressure on an already low number of salmon and smolts.

We feel that affirmative action needs to be taken to maintain numbers of cormorants and seals at reasonable levels.



The increased plantation of forests of evergreen trees has also brought added pressure to our waterways in the form of increased acidification.

A review of planting planning, method of drainage and use of deciduous trees as buffer barriers along waterways needs to be carried out and effective recommendations acted on.

Again a good policy objectively defined, implemented consistently, monitored, and consequential actions followed up would go a long way towards reducing this risk. Further justification for an independent body dealing with all water and fishing related areas.


Hatcheries and Restocking Policy

At present all restocking source fish for use after a fish kill or more general restocking are provided from Movanagher or Bushmills. With this approach there is little or no possibility of using or having available indigenous strains of fish from their source river. Little is known of the consequences of mixing fish strains from a long term point of view. The building of Movanagher and Bushmills hatcheries was not the recommended way forward at that time. The recommendation was to build about 10 smaller strategic hatcheries to provide a wider coverage of strains etc.

We feel that with the building of many small hatcheries by clubs through the European Salmoid Enhancement funding that these should be now used to provide the localised stock for restocking. This would require considerable reorganisation but is likely to offer a lower running cost solution than is currently the case.


Commercial Fishing

With the dwindling of returning Salmon and Sea Trout the case for continued intensive commercial fishing becomes even more difficult to justify. We are now in a vicious circle of catching a significant percentage of a small run of fish which further reduces the potential to recover the situation. With the common usage of satellite positioning, sonar and highly efficient monofilament nets in conjunction with known migration paths the salmon doesn't have a chance. There are then a range of estuary and inland fishing systems which guarantee a further significant reduction of spawning fish. This all happens before the angler with rod and line ever sees a salmon. There are also many well known financial arguments which measures the value of a rod caught salmon versus a commercial salmon. These vary widely but typically are £10 versus £500 in terms of value to the economy using the tourist as the basis of the valuation. With these sorts of figures continued commercial fishing is untenable.

Our conclusion is that the removal of commercial nets would provide an immediate and effective improvement to the recovery of the salmon in NI waters and particularly in the Bann System. It is simple, would be effective, it simply requires the will to make it happen.



Poaching of Salmon in Ireland going back in history is almost a way of life. The salmon is still valuable enough to attract the poacher or gangs of poachers. It is the organized gangs who are known to travel significant distances to poach salmon using well organised and very effective means. They can easily take a high proportion of the salmon in main river holding pools and are extremely difficult to detect or catch.

As a club we have had to form a voluntary bailiffs group to try to police the Agivey System. This is because the number of Conservancy Board bailiffs is so small that their effectiveness is small. This is not a reflection on their abilities but purely the fact that it is an impossible task with these numbers.

More resource in this area would assist in retaining valuable spawning fish which have already beaten the odds and managed to return to their home rivers.



We appreciate that the terms of reference for this inquiry cover Inland Fisheries but we feel that since Salmon and Sea Trout spend a large portion of their time in a marine environment then it is essential that some mention be made of the problems encountered at sea.


Commercial Netting

For many hundreds of years Salmon have been harvested at sea by Fixed Engine coastal netting. I have seen records belonging to a fishery dating back to the sixteen hundreds. This type of fishing did not seem to have deleterious effect on Salmon stocks. In the latter half of the twentieth century Drift Netting began to make serious inroads into the numbers of Salmon returning to our rivers. Instead of waiting, like the Fixed Engine nets, for the fish to come to them, the Drift Nets could follow the migration routes taken by the fish and reap huge catches, in some instances the entire run destined for a particular river.

The effect of this over fishing has meant that the stocks of Salmon, which are already at dangerously low levels, are not being given a chance to improve. The only way to give the Salmon stocks a chance to recuperate is to cease commercial sea fishing with immediate effect. Of all the things that we could do to improve the runs of Salmon, ending commercial netting would show the most immediate results.

If commercial salmon netting were ended the major source of wild salmon for sale would be closed off. It would then be a simple step to ban the sale of all wild Salmon. This would have two beneficial results. One it would make it more difficult for poachers to market their catches and two it would help stop greedy anglers killing more fish than they needed for their own personal consumption.


Fish Farming

Over the past twenty years there has been a great proliferation of marine based fish farms. These are a mixed blessing as far as stocks of wild migratory fish are concerned.

On the positive side the abundance of farmed fish on the market has lowered the price of fish to such an extent that it is less lucrative to take and sell fish by illegal means. However it also means that the poacher and the nets man now have to take more fish to leave their activity worthwhile.

On the negative side there are the problems of disease, parasite infestation and interbreeding with wild fish.

When any commodity is farmed intensively be it animals on a farm or fish at sea the control of disease and parasites is a major problem. The problem is increased when affected individuals cannot be treated separately as in the case of fish farms. Treatments are applied which affect all the stock irrespective of whether they needed treatment or not. These treatments are not specific to the fish in the farm but also affect any aquatic life in the surrounding waters. The diseases and parasites are very readily transferred to any fish in the vicinity as can be seen with the high infestation of sea lice on Sea Trout feeding near farmed Salmon. This has been cited as a major cause of the depletion of the Sea Trout stocks on the west coasts of both Scotland and Ireland in recent times.

Interbreeding of indigenous wild Salmon with escapee fish from fish farms has been causing great concern among the angling fraternity. Wild Salmon have a very well developed homing instinct, which enables fish to locate the river in which they spent their juvenile years in a high percentage of cases. It is also thought that individual fish go back to the very spot on a river where they themselves were born. If interbreeding with farmed fish dilutes this instinct then fish may eventually lose their ability to home into their native rivers.


Sand Eel Netting

Sand eels are a major source of food for Sea Trout off our coasts. In recent years some EU countries have been given permission to net these sand eels in very large numbers. This removes the most important food source for Sea Trout with the result that Sea Trout numbers fall and those that are left are smaller because of the reduced food supply.

It has also come to light recently that large numbers of Salmon and Sea Trout smolts are being caught up in the Sand Eel nets. This practice is illegal to the best of my knowledge but is the inevitable consequence of allowing the wholesale capture of Sand Eels at the expense of everything else.

The Sand Eels themselves are being used to provide a cheap source of fish food to supply the fish farms. How long can we afford to let this situation continue before irreparable damage results?



In normal circumstances when stocks of any species are at healthy levels natural predation can act as a very good method of culling out weak, diseased or genetically imperfect individuals. The problems with predation occur when the stocks of a species get to unsustainably low levels. This is the case in many areas with both Salmon and Sea Trout.

The main predator at sea, other than man and the cormorants already mentioned, are seals. Up until a few years ago these were culled by sea fishermen to help protect stocks of the fish which form the principle part of the seals diet. Some years ago seals were given official protection with the result that numbers have risen dramatically and they are now doing great harm to stocks of Salmon and many other forms of marine life, whose numbers like the numbers of Salmon, are in near terminal decline.



The Atlantic Salmon is a truly wonderful fish. It is remarkably adaptable and a great survivor. If we give it half a chance its numbers will increase so that our children will live to see runs of fish not seen since our grandparents day. If, on the other hand, we choose to ignore the warnings the Salmon will diminish in numbers until it disappears from the majority of our rivers and like the Corncrake is confined to a few small remote pockets. The choice is ours. Let's make it wisely for the good of all and not the greed of the few.

CECIL THOMPSON, Association Chairman

Annex 4


9 February 2000

I write in reply to your letter of 31st January 2000 concerning an inquiry into Inland Fisheries.

The Faughan Anglers Ltd has evolved from a long line of angling clubs and associations which have been based on the River Faughan over many years.

It is a non profit-making private company which exists to provide angling for the local population and visitors at an affordable cost. The Directors and committee members provide their services and expertise on a voluntary basis.

A full time bailiff is employed together with seasonal bailiffs and an office person on a part-time basis. Many of the permit holders act as voluntary bailiffs to assist in protecting the river.

The committee members (8 in number) are drawn from different sections of the river catchment area in order to provide the directors with a local perspective on the river management.

The company would issue approximately 1000 permits per annum, which would make it one of the largest fisheries in Northern Ireland. We also control the Fishing Rights, by Lease from Bann System Ltd and Foyle Fisheries Commission, of the whole of the River Faughan and its tributaries.

The company also maintains a hatchery at Ballyartan on a tributary of the river Faughan for the production of sea trout and salmon from brood stock taken each session from the river Faughan. All fry produced are planted out as unfed fry to the river Faughan and all brood stock are returned following stripping.

We assist another local club (Dennett angling) by making space available in the hatchery for the production of sea trout fry for the river Dennett on the same basis as ourselves.

The Faughan Anglers Ltd is a member of the Ulster Angling Federation Ltd and will be supporting the views put forward by them. We would wish, however, to make certain points, which we feel strongly about as a company, dealing mainly with a Salmon and Sea Trout Fishery.

1. There is an obvious need to control the indiscriminate netting of salmon and sea trout at sea and in the river estuaries.

2. The siting of salmon farms and cages in areas close to, or on the migration route of salmon and sea trout should cease.

3. More control over commercial fish farms, with limitations on numbers allowed, penalties for allowing escapes to the rivers, involvement of local clubs in the decision making on these matters and strict prevention of the introduction of non indigenous species.

4. The prevention of commercial or other waste dumps along the immediate river corridor, and stronger penalties for pollution of rivers.

5. More control over, and stricter penalties for pollution caused by sand washing activities, water treatment works and sewage plants.

6. The possibility of a single rod licence for Northern Ireland with an endorsement covering the whole of the Republic. This would make life easier for visitors to Ireland as a whole as well as for locals.

7. In our experience pollution from all those sources already mentioned, and from farms and houses along the river side, are causing most of the problems we encounter in the management of the river and its stock of fish. It would appear that rainwater facilities are being used as means of disposing of washing machine and dishwater waste and this makes its way without treatment, to the rivers. The same can be said of many slurry tanks, silage pit seepage, milk parlour washing and cement works.

8. Should it be possible, by agreement with the farming community, to create fenced off areas along the rivers, and give the local anglers the responsibility for their maintenance, it would result in the creation of pathways along the rivers, a seepage area to absorb pollutants entering the river, less erosion along river banks, an increase in suitable vegetation and trees, an increase in natural spawning and consequent improvement in fish stocks and other in river creatures. There would also be a dramatic increase in the population of Flora and Fauna in this area.

We would be prepared to have a representative of the company to attend to give oral evidence if thought appropriate.

D KELLY, Chairman

Annex 5


Our association was set up some years ago now with the following objectives:-

We have recently read with interest all information printed in the News Letter and angling magazines with reference to the management and conservation of salmon, trout, eels and freshwater fish.

The Assembly Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure has announced a high level inquiry into all aspects of inland fisheries in Northern Ireland.

On behalf of the North Antrim Anglers Association, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few problems we have on our local River Bush.

For over twenty years the returning wild Atlantic Salmon of the River Bush after making their way through the hundreds of nets at sea are stopped and denied free passage upstream to spawn by an electric fence. This electric barrier stuns the fish and forces the salmon to go through a trapping process. This necessitates the use of an anaesthetic drug to subdue the fish so they can be manhandled and transferred in to containers and then transported further up-stream where they are dumped back into the river.

Now this operation is carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (and for what?). Seemingly for experimental purposes and so that a couple of hundred fish can be retained for artificial spawning to enhance other rivers.

The total run of fish is subjected to this debilitating process which delays the salmon and reduces their ability to negotiate obstacles upstream (such as the leap falls) and hence reach the spawning beds. This process has had such a detrimental effect on the river that salmon, sea-trout nor eels are ever seen in the upper reaches of the river.

In a paper included in the Atlantic Salmon Trusts' report, Dr E Verspoor showed that it is best to stock with home produced salmon.

The success of a stocking programme may be critically dependant on the origin of the fish used. The stocking of fish from an inappropriate source will prove less than worthwhile and may even harm existing stocks. Why then should Bush fish be used to enhance other rivers?

Survival rates for salmon eggs and young salmon in highly acidic waters are extremely poor. We have highlighted the dumping of sludge near the headwaters of the River Bush, Silo seepage and sewage effluent entering along the course of the river but no-one seems to be interested. Furthermore, the apparent lack of bailiffs patrolling the banks of the river encourages prolific poaching of what small numbers of fish make it up-stream.

If we are to preserve and enhance inland fishing on the River Bush, them it is imperative that the electric barrier be removed.

Could I on behalf of the North Antrim Anglers' Association ask the Assembly Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure to investigate:-

1. the possible removal of the electric barrier from the weir at Bushmills so the current unnatural processes of drugging and manhandling of the total run of salmon can be stopped so that the wild salmon can reach the spawning beds naturally. If after twenty years it is still necessary to continue with experiments, fish should be taken out in the upper reaches of the river and not down at Bushmills,

2. Enforcement of laws for dangerous effluent entering water courses,

3. Buying out active nets at sea,

4. Provision of proper policing of game rivers to reduce poaching,

5. Control of the cormorant population.

As member of the Ulster Angling Federation we are very disappointed in the progress that they have made to support our cause thus far.


Annex 6


18 May 2000

Thank you for the opportunity offered to our association to submit our views to your inquiry into Inland Fisheries.

North Antrim Anglers Association was formed in 1991, when a group of mainly local anglers came together to protest about the decline in the quality of angling on the Upper River Bush.

This group possesses a unique understanding of the Upper River Bush, in all its moods, having spent many years discussing its problems, and evaluating its potential, from the view point of the sporting angler. Out input will relate specifically to the River Bush system. Note we use the term "Upper" to include all parts of the river system upstream of the "Walk Mills" leap near Bushmills. One exception to this definition is a short section of the river south of Benvarden Bridge.

Our association is affiliated to the Ulster Angling Federation Ltd. In order to understand the present position, we must consider the key factors influencing angling in our system in the recent past.

1. About 1972 the Department of Agriculture obtained a lease on the major part of the River Bush catchment. The Department declared the system to be an "Experimental River" which enabled them to remove the "Queen's Gap" legislation, which ensures that the migratory fish including Atlantic Salmon may run to their spawning redds.

2. The Department installed a permanent impassable electric barrier across the river at Bushmills. The declared purpose of the lease was to allow the Department to carry out a long term investigation or "Experiment" into the ecology of a salmon river, and to assess the economics of salmon ranching. This leasing arrangement effectively split the river into three parts.

3. The first of these is the private beat of the Dundarave Estate water, extending from the sea pool to a point about 500 yds downstream of the road bridge at Bushmills. Our most recent information is that it has 4 rods, with 2 of these offered to the angling public on a day ticket basis. Fly-fishing only is the rule, though spinning and worming are allowed in certain water conditions, by arrangement with Sir Patrick MacNaughten. The use of shrimping is forbidden.

4. The second part of the river is the NI Department of Agriculture's "Special Section's", 1300 yds of prime salmon water, extending from the upper limit of the private beat, to the headrace of the Walk Mills leap, upstream of Bushmills.

5. The "Special Section" offers day permits for a maximum of 12 rods, with a complex range of prices, depending on the period of the season on which it was requested, for certain periods of time, and on what licence the angler holds. The permitted methods on the "Special Sections" are fly, worm and shrimp at all times, with spinning also permitted above a critical height.

6. The third and in the view of our association, the most important part of the River Bush system is the "Upper" river. This is the twenty-five miles of fishable water from its downstream limit at the Walk Mills Leap near Bushmills to the headwater streams.

Here there is excellent holding water for both salmon and trout, for the first six miles or so to the junction with the Stracam tributary. Fortunately the deep pools are linked by attractive streams, highly suitable for fly fishing. As we proceed further upstream through Stroan, Bellisle and Stranocum, the water level becomes more critical for good sport and local knowledge is important to catch salmon.

The river is particularly beautiful upstream of Stranocum, and into the Livery Hills. The gradient ensures an endless chain of pools and streams, and given good water conditions, which will last only for a few days following a spate, and assuming salmon have been allowed to run upstream, then the upper river can offer a good chance of a salmon for a further 70 or so anglers.

The methods permitted on this unrestricted section of the river are fly only, with restricted use of worm and spinning between Connagher and Bellisle. Shrimping on the upper river is forbidden.

We thus far have briefly described the status quo of angling on the River Bush, let us now consider what is wrong and what steps are needed to help put it right.

Quality angling should be developed on the whole river system and not condensed as at present into the first few miles of the lower river.

These lower beats can only cater for a limited number of anglers, the entire river will accommodate many times that number.

The single factor which prevents the upper river from realising its true potential is the absence of salmon, at least until very late in the angling season, when the fish are starting to colour and are past their angling best.

On the River Bush the main run of grisle enter the river by early or mid July, so why in recent years do anglers on the upper river have to wait until October for salmon to appear in even modest numbers? Our association believes this is the influence of the "experiment" as the only two barriers preventing salmon from running on into the upper river are the electric barrier/trap and the natural rock barrier at the Walk Mills leap. The latter barrier is only a threat to gravid backend, fish and at periods of high or low water levels these fish cannot run on upstream.

Our view is that minor work be considered to ease the passage of running fish through this obstacle without damaging its tourist attraction.

Our association would wish to raise the problem of commercial netting, we would draw to your attention the scientific paper on the subject of marine exploitation of Atlantic Salmon, by W. W. Crozier and G. J. Kennedy research journal, 19(1994) 141-155.

They offer figures of home water (coastal) netting exploitation rates as high as 89% of wild grilse attempting to return to the River Bush.

We consider that the running wild salmon stock should be used as an angling resource, they are too important to be exploited by commercial netting, and as the salmon farming industry can now supply the consumer, netting is now no longer commercially viable. Only rivers full of salmon will attract the development of Angling Tourism.

The act of folly, by which during the late 70's and 80's the natural run of salmon into the river was deliberately reduced, in order to establish a low point on the recruitment graph of spawning numbers against smolt productivity proved impossible to reverse.

Only 530 wild salmon were released through the trap in 1999. Note, all these returning fish were trapped, placed into anaesthetic solution to reduce stress before being carried upstream of an electric barrier and dumped back into the river. Of these fish, upstream anglers caught an estimated 80 salmon. Poaching and natural losses to otters and stress for example will further reduce their numbers, so that this winter natural spawning will depend on about 400 salmon!

It is interesting to note that the number of spawners released upstream in 1984 was also in the region of 400 adults. Also note that the number of returning adult salmon for 1974 was 3500.

The Fishery Division, following years of warnings about low redd counts from this association, have now agreed to restock the system with fry from the hatchery. It is regrettable that their "experiment" has made this necessary. Assuming the hatchery can produce enough wild fry to enhance the stock numbers in the short term, our association believes that the time for this "experiment" in its present form is over.

The electric barrier should be removed and the natural run of wild salmon should be restored. Valuable experimental work could continue by monitoring and sampling the salmon stocks. The hatchery should continue to operate, but for the benefit of all River Bush anglers.

Broodstock could be obtained by electro fishing or netting after the angling season. We believe that the future of the entire River Bush would be best served by this radical change and the entire river could thereby be restored as an angling mecca for both local and tourist rods alike.

Assuming that the summer run of grilse can be restored to the upper river they would have to be protected particularly in periods of low water by more adequate bailiffing. The present arrangement does not work due to the lack of staff.

The River Bush also suffers from Pollution. The source is mostly seasonal farming activities, e.g. slurry spreading in spring, followed by silage effluent, and recently in mid summer anglers find empty containers of sheep dip and animal carcasses dumped along the river.

Only a minority of farmers are careless about causing avoidable pollution. We suggest an intensive media campaign, advising riparian owners on good practice, and publicity to be given to any prosecutions relating to pollution.

The present programme of salmonid enhancement should be continued, co-operating with the local anglers to provide improved spawning beds and deep holding pools, in addition to improving access, by clearing banks, constructing styles etc. These efforts are to be encouraged. Also to be encouraged are attempts by the Fishery Division to control the weed introduced into the river in an attempt to produce cover for juvenile salmonid stocks. We believe it to be Ranuculus Pencillatus, which grows out of control in summer and chokes large sections of the upper river, particularly the shallow spawning beds causing silt to deposit there, destroying the spawning sites.

The association would also request in the light of the critically low salmon stocks that the Ban on the use of the natural Shrimp should apply to the entire river system and should be adequately enforced.

The Cormorant cull initiated by the Fishery Department and involving several association members should also continue in the early spring as these birds are using the river in large numbers.

We look forward to publication of your recommendations to the Department and hope that you look favourably on our recommendations for the improvement of Angling on the River Bush.


Annex 7


18 February 2000


A Review of Coastal Netting of Salmon

This has always been a contentious issue will all game anglers throughout Northern Ireland and the rest of Europe. It is commonly known that reported catches of salmon by coastal drift nets have been grossly under reported over the years.

Like all anglers and members of BAC we strongly recommend that much tighter limits be imposed to both the time which these nets are allowed to operate and a much closer monitoring of actual catchers be imposed resulting in strict quotas for all nets.

It is worth noting that it takes almost 300 salmon caught at sea to create one job equivalent whilst only 20 salmon caught on rod and line will create the same job opportunity.


Netting on Lough Neagh

My understanding is that Lough Neagh is one of the few fresh water lakes in Europe that still allows licensed netting. I fully appreciate that netting has been a way of life on the Lough for generations. Although licenses do not allow for deliberate netting of salmon these nets are totally undiscriminatory and plenty of salmon find their way to car boots and dinner tables.

It is alarming to realise that if all licensed nets for the Lough were put end to end they would stretch from Belfast to Dublin and this, of course, does not include illegal nets. The one effort that FCB did make to address this problem by investing some £200,000 in a new patrol boat ended up as a bit of a comedy of errors as they went to take the boat out on patrol one day and found it had gone missing and still not recovered!

The fact that all migratory fish for the Lough Neagh catchment area have to face these nets is an area that calls for an immediate review of netting practices.



Another major area of concern over the years. Both farm and industrial pollution have had disastrous affects on many rivers and lakes throughout Northern Ireland.

Monitoring and follow up or reported cases of pollution have been found seriously wanting over the years. Where prosecutions have resulted, fines have been derisory. Being involved myself in the farming industry I know that these prosecutions have been heavily weighted towards that sector with little regard or fines resulting from industrial cases which over the years have been far more destructive to fisheries. A case, I suppose, of crown failing to prosecute crown!

A most essential change to try and address this problem would be the immediate disbandment of current protection bodies and the setting up of an independent Rivers Authority with full powers of control and prosecution.

A programme of regular monitoring and inspection of all water courses should be immediately implemented to control this ever-growing problem.


Hydroelectric Generation

Being an environmentalist I fully understand the need to produce energy from renewable resources and also the EC directives controlling this. Where private schemes already exist serious damage is being done to fish stocks through mismanagement and blatant disregard by operators to consents given at planning for each scheme. To address this we need to:

A. Review the weak legislation governing the operation of such projects.

B. Tough laws and hefty fines for operators who operator outside the consents and conditions imposed by the relevant planning authorities. These problems mainly relate to misuse of smolt screens and operating during times of low flow etc, strict policy of such operations must be called for.


Fish Farms

Obviously with the demise of natural fish in many rivers and lakes the need for put and take fisheries has flourished - nothing against that but what we do strongly object to is the way many such fish farms operate in breech of water extraction legislation in relation to fish screens etc. I know of one case where a mass of written and photographic evidence is being held by an FCB bailiff but for some reason known only to themselves was never called for in court and therefore was dismissed.


Nursery and Habitat Enhancement

Sterling work has been done by many clubs over the last 6 years with much credit going to the Department of Agriculture Fisheries Division in the setting up and joint funding of the Salmonid Enhancement Programme. The Braid alone secured some £9,000 under this scheme and have regenerated several miles of first class spawning beds and nursery habitat. Through separate funding we are, as I write, improving river access through styling, bank repair, tree and branch trimming, tree planting and the building of another 3 gravel retaining groynes in the headwaters of the Braid. We are hoping to create our own web-site when fishing is sufficiently improved to attract tourism to the Braid area. The success of all this depends on Salmon returning from their feeding grounds off Greenland avoiding drift netting at sea, salmon traps at the mouth of the Bann, illegal nets and fishing on the Bann, poaching and snatching at Toomebridge, netting and poaching on the Lough, illegal netting at the mouth of the Maine, the cormorants which have now taken up residence at Shane's Castle, the pollution which frequently appears on the Maine and Braid and the turbines of Mr O'Neill's generating plant if the smolt originally going to sea gets their in the first place.


Natural Predation

This, of course, we can do little about but the problem now being caused by cormorants (a protected species for some reason) should be closely looked at. Apparently due to low fish number (food source) at sea cormorants are now moving inland for feeding and are causing major problems for migrating smolts. It is now common for cormorants to be seen roosting at night in trees around Shane's Castle Estate.


Consultation With Angling Bodies

Too frequently clubs and angling bodies are not consulted about issues affecting their rivers. This must change. Over the years we have been the policers and Guardian Angels of our waters albeit with little or no authoritative powers behind us. We have acquired vital information about what our fisheries need and more to the point what they do not need. Please involve us in any projects, strategy or discussions from the beginning.

I would just like to summarise after what has been one of the worst salmon runs in living memory. If we do not sit down now and devise a strategy to address some, if not all, of the above issues we can wave goodbye to angling in Northern Ireland and more importantly the tourism and jobs that go with it.

If you compare the £40 million per year generated by angling in the South to the minuscule £1.5 million earned by the Northern Ireland Industry I think you will agree there is vast potential for improvement. Let us act now before it is too late.

PETER MORGAN, Club Chairman.

Annex 8


19 February 2000

Fermanagh Anglers Association views and comments under terms of reference:

1. Examination of Existing Policies in Northern Ireland concerning the management and conservation of salmon, trout, eels and freshwater fish.

2. To report to the Assembly making recommendations to the Department and/or others on actions which would improve Inland Fisheries in Northern Ireland.

In our estimation the quality of Inland Fisheries in Northern Ireland has shown a steady decline over many years but particularly in recent times. The decline is most evident in the salmonid designated waters where stocks of salmon and trout have deteriorated for many reasons some of which are detailed:-

1. River and lake habitat has been destroyed by pollution, drainage, water abstraction, and hydro-electric installations. On Lough Erne we have witnessed the destruction of one of Europe's finest salmon fisheries primarily due to the installation of the hydro-electric power station with an inadequate fish pass for migrating fish - salmon, sea trout and eels.

2. Excessive exploitation of salmon at sea by commercial fishermen.

3. Exploitation of fish stock by inland commercial fishermen.

4. Inadequate baliffing (not enough persons engaged) to detect and to discourage pollution and other illegal activity.

5. To prevent further introduction of non-native species, eg roach (unknown in the Erne catchment area prior to 1960) which now account for 70% weight of the fish population. Such species resulting in tremendous competition for food and habitat.

6. Stocking policy for all Northern Ireland waters from a single source limited genetic brood stock where an indigenous genetic pool for selected waters would be much the preferred option by anglers.

7. Hither to lack of consultation with local anglers to ensure mutual benefit for all through encouragement of and involvement in local fishery management.

8. No formalised rules or etiquette for use of designated salmonid fishing waters by other users who to date make no monetary contribution for the utility, policing, maintenance, safety or access of such waters, eg cruisers, speed boats and jet skis.

Fermanagh Anglers Association recommendations/suggestions:-

1. The Department is to be congratulated on the excellent start/proposals made on river habitat enhancement through the Salmonid Enhancement Programme. Further development through Fisheries Division working in partnership with local clubs, community associations, and in the case of the Erne catchment area, cross border organisations, groups and individual with mutual piscatorial interests is to be encouraged with adequate funding allocated to achieve goals.

2. Anti pollution initiatives need to be pursued vigorously. Farm, industrial and sewage processing pollution risk assessment requires immediate revision, and action both to educate and prosecute to deter the destruction of river and lake fauna.

3. Commercial fishing for wild salmon (at sea, in the estuaries and in the rivers) should be banned. All legal netting licensees for wild salmon and sea trout compensated and international laws passed with such policing and penalty legislation inacted to stop all netting and monetary benefit from the capture and sale of wild salmon. A wild salmon caught by rod and line creates much greater employment, wealth and pleasure than one caught by commercial netting.

4. A full appraisal of the economics and value of the commercial coarse fisheries should be determined. The anticipated extra income and employment generated through improved angling would more than offset the costs involved in the buying out the commercial interests.

5. Baliffing activity requires an increase in numbers and activity to check on farm, septic tank, industrial and sewage processing effluent/disposal. Persistent offenders should be prosecuted without exception. All illegal netting, fishing activity or engagement should likewise be prosecuted without exception.

6. Legislation should be enacted and in the meantime appropriate measures taken and exercised to prevent the introduction of non-native species and other organisms that may damage fisheries.

7. Indigenous brood fish should be identified and maintained to create a fresh source for restocking native fish identified with a particular river or lake complex.

8. Every effort should be made by the Inland Fisheries of Northern Ireland Department/Division to involve local anglers in decisions governing the care, maintenance and management of game/coarse fishing waters.

9. Bye laws for those using the facilities of Lough Erne have still to be drawn and passed, meanwhile the anglers are the only persons making any financial contribution for the use of facilities through payments for their Rod Licence to The Fishery Conservancy Board for Northern Ireland and their Permit to The Department of Agriculture Fisheries Division, while other users eg cruisers, yachts, speed boats, 'commercial gin palaces' and jet skis do not either make a financial contribution nor have to comply with any legislation or etiquette in the use of the waters of Lough Erne. Anglers believe that zoning of the Lough to give priority to particular interests is long overdue together with a general overall speed limit except in a further reduced speed or speed free designated area.

10. Phosphorus extraction plants should be installed on all but the smallest sewage treatment plants which drain into salmonid waters.

11. The Fermanagh Anglers Association recognise the necessity to have greater cross border involvement to achieve the goals of a reconstructed fish pass for all migrating fish, habitat enhancement, improved water quality control, policing and bailiffing and would welcome all efforts made to engender such relationships for the enhancement and return of quality game angling to the Erne System.

We trust that these observations, suggestions and recommendations may be of some assistance to your committee when you come to consider submissions.

W A STEELE, Chairman Fermanagh Anglers Association

Annex 9


19 February 2000

With reference to your letter of 31st January regarding your proposed enquiry into Inland Fisheries we would like to put forward our views on how they could be improved.

The river Moyola is about 27 miles long stretching from the Sperrin Mountains to Lough Neagh and our Club was founded on 5th May 1982 with a small number of members. We now have 550 members and have gradually built our own hatchery which is now producing excellent results and the enhancement of the river is ongoing. We work closely with the local tourist board and enclose a copy of the brochure "Four Seasons Angling Breaks".

1. We would like to see a reduction in the number of nets both inland and marine, a better check on hotels and restaurants buying illegally caught salmon and trout.

2. Our hope would be to see one independent provincial body in charge of fishery protection and conservation. All anglers would pay one licence fee and would like to have better representation on the board.

3. The body would have to be in a position where no government bodies would be immune to prosecution, a situation which many clubs and associations had big problems with in the past.

4. Commercial fishing would need to be curtailed on Lough Neagh with a need for better bailiffing as the present system is very undermanned. We would like to see an end to salmon netting on the Lough due to the ever diminishing runs of salmon.

5. Netting for trout should be continued at an acceptable level and monitored accordingly.

6. We would like to see the angling estate managed by a new more efficient Fishery Conservancy Board or a complete new body.

7. A review of the Bush Project would be of much interest to all local anglers.

8. Regarding Movanagher Fish Farm, it would be helpful if it could be opened for courses on fishery management training in fish farming etc.

9. Hydro electricity would seem to be incompatible with angling. The present legislation in place is inadequate and the emphasis would favour the hydro. Fish passes at weirs where a hydro is in place has to suit the runs of fish and the amount of water allowed over the weir has to favour the fish. A full and detailed environment assessment will have to be carried out for each site taking into account the full hydrology of the river. Lattices and screens will have to be fitted to intake and outfalls on existing hydro plants.

10. The club has over a number of years put fish into the system only to see returning fish held up at Carnroe on the Lower Bann, the fish pass here is inadequate and a new pass will have to be constructed to allow fish to run the system.

11. Trial freshets from Lough Neagh to the river Bann have in the past proved a success in stimulating fish to run the system. These freshets should be kept up and used at times when the Bann is low and high tides are expected to encourage fish to move up into the Lough.

12. On our river half the river is designated by Rivers Agency therefore the other half does not get any maintenance carried out by the Rivers Agency. This has always been a problem as the problems with siltation and bank erosion occur at the heads of the river. Time of year for in river works must be earmarked between March and October and not in spawning season.

13. Sewage disposal works; a lot of these sites are unable to cope with the amount of sewage produced and the extraction of sludge has to be managed in a more professional manner. The discharges from these sites will have to be monitored on a more regular basis.

14. Slurry disposal; we feel a centrally placed digester for the disposal of slurry, which in turn could supply the power to the grid. The dry product could be sold as organic fertiliser. Farmers who have problems with slurry storage could have it collected by purpose built tankers.

15. It is hoped that the sandbar at the Moyola barmouth can be removed. For many years now this has been an obstacle to migrating salmon and trout. It is also an easy target for poachers with the shallow water giving the fish virtually no chance of escape.

16. We feel that anglers have over the years been under represented on the Fishery Conservancy Board. The anglers voice has not been listened to in the past. This has resulted in decisions being made which have been detrimental to angling and the general health and well being of our waterways.

17. We feel that there should be stricter controls of planning for housing developments, factory sites, sewage works and farm buildings on river banks and along lake shores. These have often resulted in loss of habitat for spawning, nursery sites for young fish, pollution and access to angling.

18. In many parts of the province we have seen the growth of illegal fattening ponds and illegal rainbow trout fisheries. Where water is taken from rivers, passed through the ponds and then returned to the rivers. This is done with no filtering systems or precautions against escaping fish which can increase the possibility of the spread of disease and loss of habitat for our native brown trout on which game angling depends in many areas. It should be pointed out that these ponds are operating without any planning permission or controls placed on them.

We look forward to hearing from you in due course.


Annex 10


March 2000




This paper forms the response of the Directors of Bann System Limited to the request from the Culture Arts & Leisure Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly in respect of the Inquiry into inland fisheries. The Directors broadly welcome the announcement of the Inquiry and we hope that it will lead to the improvement of many matters relating to the inland fisheries of Northern Ireland.


In this report, the history and current role of the Company is briefly described. Thereafter, the difficulties and problems now facing fishery management in the Province are outlined, with a summary of measures that have been undertaken by the Company to alleviate them. Finally, and most importantly, a list of essential/ desirable actions which the Government or its agencies should implement is set out. A summary of these recommendations is contained in Section 2 below.


Summary of Recommendations


Bann System Ltd recommends that a single co-ordinating body needs to be set up in Northern Ireland for the conservation and development of the inland fisheries resource, with cross border links. (8.1 & 8.2 below)


Bann System Ltd recommends that measures are put in place to restrict and control overfishing at sea. (8.3 below)


Bann System Ltd recommends that European wildlife legislation be reviewed so as to enable effective action to be taken against fish predators. (8.4 below)


Bann System Ltd recommends the introduction of tighter controls on agricultural practices, sewage treatment work discharges and water sampling procedures. (8.5 below)


Bann System Ltd recommends specific fishery protection measures for the Lough Neagh area. (8.6 below)


Bann System Ltd recommends that a well-funded and resourced programme to encourage fishery habitat improvement/restoration be introduced, taking priority over the research-driven Salmon Management Plan currently being operated by Department of Agriculture & Rural Development/Fisheries Conservancy Board. (8.7 below)


Bann System Ltd recommends the introduction of bylaws on the Lower Bann to help regulate and control recreational water sports and their interaction with angling. (8.8 below)


Bann System Ltd recommends that the Northern Ireland Tourist Board places more emphasis on promoting angling in Northern Ireland, including the establishment of a website specific to game and coarse angling. (8.9 below)


Bann System Ltd recommends that all fisheries in the Province adopt strict daily fish catch limits, along with the promotion of 'catch and release' practices, backed up by the introduction of a tagging scheme in both Northern Ireland and the Republic. (8.10 below)


Bann System Ltd recommends that water bailiffs be given increased powers against poachers and unlicensed anglers, including the use of 'fixed penalty' fines. (8.11 below)


Bann System Ltd recommends that tougher restrictions are placed on fish dealers and fish farm operators, through the introduction of a licensing system. (8.12 below)


Bann System Ltd recommends that the existing complicated licensing and permit structure in Northern Ireland be overhauled and simplified. (8.13 below)


Bann System Ltd recommends that the Government should take action in the EU to end the overexploitation of sand eels and capelin. (8.14 below)


The Honourable The Irish Society and Bann System Limited


The Honourable The Irish Society has been involved in the Province for almost 400 years and is a charitable organisation which uses the income from its assets for the benefit of the people of County Londonderry. The Society's Royal Charters of 1613 and 1662 conferred on it significant ownership of fishing rights in Counties Londonderry and Antrim, in exchange for its financing the development of the newly created County. In 1704/5 all the extensive fishing rights of the Bishop of Derry over Church lands in Counties Londonderry, Antrim, Tyrone and Donegal were purchased by The Society through Act of Parliament. The Royal Charter also gave the bed and soil of the Lower Bann itself, from Lough Neagh to the Atlantic, to The Society. The map at Appendix C shows the general extent of the Society's current fishing rights.


Between 1613 and 1985 a succession of individual tenants leased The Society's very valuable commercial salmon trapping and netting rights on the Rivers Foyle and Bann. To illustrate the importance and abundance of these fisheries in those early days, it is recorded that, in 1635, 120 tons of salmon were taken in a single day on the Foyle and Bann. In 1952, when the Foyle Fisheries Commission was set up, The Society's fishing rights on the tidal element of that river system were bought out and thereafter, the netting activities of its lessees focused solely on the Lower Bann. In the 1970s, the commercial significance of the angling in the tributary rivers flowing into the Lower Bann and the Lough Foyle system was recognised, but a major change came about in 1985. In that year Bann System Ltd was set up, as The Irish Society recognised the increasing importance of its fishery income to its charitable role.


Bann System Ltd is a Northern Ireland registered company, which has a Board of eight Directors, four of who are local appointees with the remainder drawn from the Irish Society in London. The makeup and background of the current board members are listed at Appendix A.


After 1985, Bann System Ltd voluntarily suspended its commercial fishing operations in all three stations on the Lower Bann, at Dougans Bay (1990), the Cranagh (1990) and the Cutts (1996), as it became increasingly inadvisable to trap large numbers of an internationally declining species. The Company's activities were refocused on recreational game and coarse angling, as the potential benefit of angling, both to the Company's commercial future and for the local economy became much more attractive.


As part of that strategy, the great majority of the 250 miles of fishing rights was leased during the 1980s and 1990s to local angling clubs, representing altogether a very sizeable proportion of the Province's game anglers. These clubs are listed at Appendix B to this paper.


This policy was followed because it was felt that, in the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland, local anglers needed to be involved in running local angling and in most cases a complete tributary system could be leased to the control of an individual club. It also brought significant benefits for fishery management, with the clubs' growing involvement in maintaining and improving the riparian habitat and environment for the benefit of fish stocks and combating poaching/pollution.


Access for Tourists


Built into each Bann System Ltd Lease is a requirement for up to eight day tickets to be made available by the Club for the Company's appointees - eg for tourist anglers. The Company views tourism as a major plank in its overall strategy, in that it presents an opportunity for businesses in the wider local economy to benefit, for example, hotels, ghilly service operators and tackle shops. It also provides the Irish Society, via Bann System Ltd, with additional income for its charitable grants.


Coarse angling is also a very significant activity on the Lower Bann itself, involving many local anglers as well as Clubs from other parts of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. Bann System Ltd has supported the good work of local Councils by making available, exclusively for coarse angling, certain stretches of the Lower Bann. At these locations, the Councils can then build (with permission where necessary from The Society as owner of the bed and soil) angling platforms or stands for use in competitions as well as for recreation.


Access to fisheries has always been something of a difficulty where it involves the requirement to move over private landowners' property. However, in County Londonderry, the Irish Society and through it Bann System Ltd, has a unique right of access under its Royal Charter to its fisheries and this has enabled anglers to reach the waters concerned and indeed has assisted local authorities in establishing angling infrastructure. The Company also facilitates access by disabled anglers to the Lower Bann estuary and provides moorings for their boats at the Cranagh bay.


Infrastructure and Development


Since the mid-1980s the Company has been conscious of demand for its high quality game angling which has greatly outstripped the availability of supply. Consequently, the Company has developed plans to increase the availability of game angling on the mainly public-permit waters of the 36 mile Lower Bann. Drainage and navigation needs in the last 150 years have contributed to the destruction of several historic angling beats and, more recently, have hampered the development of the remaining ones. These beats exist in only a handful of locations, principally below weirs, in total length about 4 miles of the river.


Therefore, the opportunity to expand game angling into one or more high quality new beats has been a long held objective, mainly curtailed thus far by lack of funding. Currently, there is a possibility of such a new beat being created immediately below the Cutts at Coleraine, where the Company has so far spent almost £15,000 on the preliminary feasibility studies. A similar effort is being made on the principal beat at Carnroe, near Kilrea, which is probably the finest angling station in the Company's possession.


The Company has run a specific game angling tourist package for the last three seasons and will continue to do so. By appointing a local agent to oversee all aspects of this package, an increasing number of overseas anglers have been brought to the Lower Bann each summer. Also, as part of the Company's marketing drive Bann System Ltd now has a website featuring its opportunities, although as yet this cannot be linked to the NITB website.


Threat to Fish Stocks


In this section, the principal concerns of the Company are addressed.


Bann System Ltd is conscious that the whole angling industry is dependent on the maintenance of fish stocks, both resident (trout and coarse fish) and migratory. As such, the Company is greatly concerned at the continual decline in numbers of returning migratory fish and it wishes to see remedial action taken urgently. The problems are believed to stem from a combination of the following factors:


Remedial Measures being undertaken by Bann System Limited


In this section we list the remedial measures being currently implemented by Bann System Ltd.


The Company operates at considerable expense, a team of private water bailiffs covering the Lower Bann and adjacent tributary rivers. Although this work directly assists the Fisheries Conservancy Board in its statutory tasks, the Company is not aided financially by the FCB or any other Government agency. By contrast, in England and Wales, this bailiffing role is the responsibility of the Environment Agency.


The Company has voluntarily suspended its Lower Bann commercial netting rights and is not currently being compensated for this.


The Company has introduced and made more stringent each year since 1997 a daily salmonid catch limit on all the Company's public-permit waters and has encouraged its Lessee clubs to do likewise.


The Company has introduced and promoted catch and release guidelines, following current best practice.


At the main angling stations, the Company insists on anglers disinfecting tackle and equipment as a protection against salmonid parasitic disease.


The Company has made grants for hatcheries operated by its Lessee Clubs and has encouraged the creation of such facilities generally, although it considers habitat improvement measures to be a much higher priority as a long term remedy against salmonid decline than short term restocking measures.


The Company has held an annual seminar for the last three years for its Lessee Clubs and local angling groups. This has been used as an educational and problem sharing opportunity. This year, for instance, speakers attended from Central Fisheries Board in the Republic of Ireland and the Royal Navy's Fisheries Protection Squadron, as well as from Fisheries Conservancy Board and other local angling organisations.


The Company has distributed government leaflets on river habitat management to all Lessee Clubs and through the medium of its annual seminar has sought to promote the importance of river habitat on all its waters.


The Company has co-operated with five riparian Councils and LEADER funding groups in the creation and ongoing management of an Angling Development Officer post covering the Lower Bann and Moyola Rivers. A significant amount has been achieved so far, after 18 months, but more funding will be needed if the potential benefits for local fisheries of this short-term post are to be fully realised. The interim report of the Angling Development Officer, entitled "Angling Development Strategy for the Lower Bann and Moyola Catchment Area" was produced in July 1999.


Remedial Measures to be enabled by Government or other Agencies


The Company believes that the time has come for a much more co-ordinated approach to the conservation and development of the inland fishery resource with all its potential advantages to tourism and local recreation. It notes that the Environment Agency in England and Wales has a general duty 'to maintain, improve and develop salmon, trout, freshwater fish and eel fisheries' in waters under its jurisdiction. It is also required to establish and maintain Regional Fisheries Advisory Committees and to consult them as to how it performs its role.


This seems a much more effective basis for protecting and developing a resource than the present method utilised in Northern Ireland where four Government Departments - Loughs Agency, Fisheries Conservancy Board, Department of Agriculture & Rural Development and Department of the Environment - all have separate responsibilities. Furthermore, with river systems forming or crossing national boundaries, it can only make sense for a single Northern Ireland Co-ordinating Body to have close partnership with a similar organisation in the Republic of Ireland. This will assist in habitat improvement, poaching and pollution control, stock level enhancement and many other aspects of fishery development.


The Government should drastically restrict the issuing of sea fishing Licences and attempt to establish control (where it can) over international fishing of salmon. To illustrate this, assuming the Fisheries Conservancy Board's figure for 1999 of 10,000 salmon taken by nets off the North Coast is accurate, had these fish survived to enter the main rivers like the Lower Bann, where only 2,600 fish were counted electronically, the effect would have been very beneficial. Measures to reduce inshore drift netting, either by lease or purchase of rights, should be introduced.


The Government should press for European Wildlife legislation to be amended so that predators such as cormorants can be culled in such numbers, as are necessary to protect fisheries. In 1999, Bann System Ltd was authorised to cull only eight cormorants along the whole 36 mile length of the Lower Bann from the rapidly increasing hordes of this voracious bird.


The Government should make provision to control certain agricultural practices that affect fisheries, such as temporal restrictions on slurry spreading, particularly near water courses, and the use of phosphates in artificial fertilisers. Sewage treatment plants should be upgraded to equal (at least) current EU discharge standards. As a corollary to this, the procedures for statutory water sampling should be reviewed.


The Government should greatly strengthen current fishery protection measures in the Lough Neagh area, through which migratory fish must pass, so as to prevent widespread poaching by eel fishermen. The removal of the sand bars that currently impede the passage of salmon into rivers such as the Moyola, thereby forcing them to remain in Lough Neagh longer than necessary, should be a priority.


Resources must be found and a new programme introduced to encourage, above all fishery measures, environmental habitat improvements such as restoration of riverbanks, fencing and planting to prevent erosion by farm animals, illegal gravel removal, pollution and so on. This should take priority over the current Salmon Management Plan, whereby the emphasis appears to be more on counting and research. In the Company's view, it is simply too late to spend more time and resources on scientific research at a time of critical decline in salmonid numbers, especially when all experts seem to be agreed that overall environmental degradation of rivers is the major problem. Funding for these improvement works could be drawn from European Union grant aid measures, in a similar manner to that achieved by the Salmonid Enhancement Programme of recent years. The Company also recognises the significant success of the Central Fisheries Board in the Republic of Ireland in attracting EU grant aid for its river regeneration works and hopes that this could be replicated by government agencies in Northern Ireland.


Riparian Councils on the Lower Bann, or government departments involved such as Rivers Agency, should be given powers to introduce bylaws for the control of watersports which conflict with coarse and game angling in certain areas and at certain times. Currently, there is a vacuum which no one Agency is able or willing to fill. Such bylaws would need to be introduced on a Province-wide basis, as confusion would be the inevitable result of doing so in a localised manner. To this end, the provisions of the draft Water Order for Northern Ireland (replacing the existing 1972 Act) should be brought into being at the earliest opportunity.


The Northern Ireland Tourist Board needs to devote considerably more time and effort to the promotion of angling, not least through the creation of an up to date website for both game and coarse angling, which could be linked to specialist angling sites, such as Bann System Ltd's own one.


The Company would like to see the whole angling community support the introduction of daily fish catch limits and more instruction and encouragement given for 'catch and release' programmes, as is now common in other countries. It would also welcome the introduction of an adequately resourced, effective salmon tagging scheme throughout the island of Ireland.


Water bailiffs, both private and FCB, should be given extra powers to impose 'fixed penalty' fines for anglers who fail to display rod licences. This would also help to reduce the administrative burden, which currently falls on the FCB. Court-appointed water bailiffs could be given powers to police waters across Northern Ireland, rather than in restricted areas, as at present.


All fish farms and dealers should be licensed and powers given to the proposed new statutory body to enforce conditions of use. A ban should be imposed on the placing of fish farms in estuaries of rivers that contain migratory salmon and trout.


The single statutory body for inland fisheries should have the responsibility of co-ordinating the rod licence and angling permit system, which is currently complicated, confusing for both locals and tourists and fragmented.


The Government should press for international agreement (through the European Union) on restricting the catching of sand eels and capelin for animal feed purposes, particularly by Denmark. These species provide food for wild salmon at sea.




Bann System Ltd welcomes the Culture, Arts & Leisure Committee's inquiry into inland fisheries and sees this as a rare opportunity to rectify matters in a neglected industry/sport. The Company is keenly aware of its responsibilities for the management of rivers that drain 43% of the Province. It is continuing to co-operate with local Councils and the full range of government agencies involved, both to encourage best practice for angling, to promote tourism wherever possible and to conserve all the area's indigenous fish species, whilst operating as a profit centre for the Irish Society's charitable purposes.



CHAIRMAN: Cdr P C D Campbell, LVO, OBE, DL.

Cdr Campbell has been on the Board of Directors for 15 years and has great experience of the Lower Bann from a boating and angling viewpoint. He served as Local Representative of The Irish Society for 22 years until 1996 and is a fishery owner and salmon fisherman.


Mr Willoughby is a senior partner in a London accountancy firm and served as Deputy Governor of The Honourable The Irish Society.


Mr Montgomery has managed the day to day affairs of Bann System Ltd for nearly three years. He has been The Irish Society's Local Representative since 1996.

MEMBER: Mr D J L Mobsby.

Mr Mobsby, a former Deputy Governor of The Honourable The Irish Society, is the Senior Partner in a London firm of Solicitors, who has served on the Board for ten years.

MEMBER: Mr V Refausse.

Mr Refausse, currently Chairman of the Ulster Coarse Fishing Federation, is one of the most prominent coarse anglers in The Province and has many years of experience on the Board, mainly representing coarse angling interests.

MEMBER: Mr C B David.

Mr Davis, a retired businessman, is an experienced angler, who has also served as Deputy Governor of The Honourable The Irish Society, in 1998/9.

MEMBER: Mr D A Agnew.

Mr Agnew is one of Northern Ireland's leading businessmen and has fished on the Lower Bann for many years. He is also well known as an international game angler.

MEMBER: Mr A J Miller.

Mr Miller spent his career in pollution prevention, fisheries and waterway management with a number of river authorities in England, latterly as Assistant Director (Fisheries) with Anglian Water Authority, before moving to Northern Ireland in retirement.



In almost every case, each of the above Clubs holds a nine year Lease.

Annex 11


21 June 2000


The Ulster Angling Federation is the representative body for game angling clubs in Northern Ireland. It currently has a membership of 78 clubs and a total individual membership of some 10,000 anglers. The Federation represents anglers in discussions with Public Bodies, Government, etc, and had been in existence since the 1930's.

The Federation is administered by some 30 unpaid Directors drawn from the ranks of member clubs. Board meetings are held monthly and a part-time development officer and part-time assistant secretary are employed.

Originally a body solely concerned with fishing, the Federation has in recent years broadened its outlook to embrace the objectives of nature conservation and habitat protection in the interests of game angling and in harmony with other environmentally interested groups.


The Ulster Angling Federation

Executive Summary

Key Issues

Abbreviations Used in the Text

1. The Significance of Game Fisheries.

2. Background to Game Fisheries in Northern Ireland.

3. The Administration of Game Fisheries in Northern Ireland.

4. Government Responsibilities.

5. The Fisheries Conservancy Board for Northern Ireland.

6. The Foyle Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission.

7. The Major Loughs.

8. Weirs and Hydro Electric Schemes.

9. Salmon.

10. Fish Farming.

11. Fishing Rights.

12. The Role of Angling Clubs.

13. The Way Forward for Game Fisheries in Northern Ireland.


1. The Protection of River Corridors by Integrated Planning

2. Value of rods v. nets in the FFC area

3. Value of nets in the FFC and FCBNI areas

4. Salmon net catch in the FFC area

5. The productivity value of salmonid habitat in NI


Game angling in Northern Ireland contributes some £4m to £5m annually to the local economy, even at the present low level of development, representing considerable existing employment levels. The wild fisheries in particular are highly valued in Europe and have the potential to make a significant contribution to the NI Tourist product. With reasonable investment, the adoption of a number of structural measures, and a commencement of the phasing out of salmon netting, game angling can present a major opportunity for "NI plc". The ROI is now earning some £60m per annum from game angling. Whilst our area is smaller there is no doubting the potential for the development of a valuable angling resource based on a long term sustainable wild fishery.

A constructive partnership of Government, administrators, and anglers is required to realise this potential.

The Inquiry into Inland Fisheries by the Assembly DCAL Committee is a golden opportunity to make a fresh start and we look forward to a new era of constructive development led by our Assembly representatives.

I enjoyed the past and I like the prospects for the future. We have a resolution today, in spite of adverse pressures, to treat our land and waters better than in the past. We know much more about fish and their needs, especially the anadromous trouts and salmons, and we understand their values better. We can build them back and even increase their greatest natural abundance. Nothing is quite as it was two generations ago, nor ever was. It can be better, for it is a time now to move into an era of constructive conservation that nourishes the natural world and all its creatures instead of destroying them"

Roderick Haig-Brown: "A River Never Sleeps".


1. Fisheries Administration

In a small place like NI, one central fishery authority with overall power and sensible funding is a prerequisite to success. The current fragmented set-up is a significant barrier to progress and is a model of inefficiency. This authority would encompass FCBNI, FCILC, and the fishery responsibilities of the former DANI. One obvious advantage would be the simplification of what is already an over-complicated licence structure which threatens to become even more complex if salmon tagging is introduced.

2. Statement of Fisheries Policy and Development Programme:

It is vital that a comprehensive Statement of Fisheries Policy is devised for inland fisheries to reflect a sensible organisational structure, and to set out the guidelines for the "way forward" via a badly needed Development Programme.

3. Planning; The River Corridor Concept

The protection of river corridors from development not only benefits fisheries but a wide range of animals and vegetation. Significant benefit has been recorded on a wide scale in the Republic of Ireland following fisheries measures along rivers. The resulting protected waterway "corridor" provides a safe haven for a great mixture of species, both land and water-based - this concept needs to be adopted and expanded by NI Government Agencies.

4. Water Quality; Eutrophication

Agricultural land in Northern Ireland is generally being subjected to a significant surplus of nutrients from fertilisers and slurry. Much of the excess goes to enrich our waterways along with sewage outfalls, to the extent that for instance Lough Neagh is one of the most excessively enriched bodies of water in Europe. Urgent action to reduce nutrient application is needed; Government response to date might be described as too little, too late. The time-scales for seeing results from corrective action are very long and this issue needs to be addressed urgently.

5. Catchment Management Plans.

The protection of our waterways is at present somewhat unco-ordinated. The concept of Catchment Management Plans encompasses a wide-ranging assessment of the needs and capabilities of a particular river/lough catchment. These should include water quality objectives and assessments of the assimilative capacity of the waters. There is a need to introduce these Plans for the main river/lough catchments.

6. Salmon

The salmon is a resource under pressure. High seas and local trends indicate low stock levels for the foreseeable future. There is a need to reduce the level of commercial exploitation to conserve the stock and encourage enhancement works to reverse the long-term decline. The gradual phasing out of netting of salmon will only bring forward the loss of economic benefit, which is gradually occurring in this sector in any case. An orderly-negotiated process, helped by regional aid as part of a development plan, will pave the way to the great increase in benefit, which will accrue from the development of the fishery as a rod angling fishery.

7. Water Abstraction

At present there are no regulations to control water abstraction from waterways. The power to create regulations has been available since 1972 but never used. Abstraction of water can leave sections of river with extremely low water levels, in some instances a dry riverbed, damaging the habitat for fish, insects, birds, etc and making obstacles such as weirs impossible to ascend. Abstraction regulations, requiring environmental impact analysis, are urgently needed.

8. Pollution Fines

Magistrates in general take a lenient view of pollution incidents and serious fishery offences. Although the maximum fine for polluting a watercourse is £20,000, fines of £100 and less are commonplace. The Courts tend to treat poaching as a minor offence with fines similar to licence offences (usually under £100). There is also a reluctance to convict industry and fish farmers for breach of fishery protection regulations. There is a crying need to have the courts apply levels of fines commensurate with the damage being done.

9. Dams and Weirs

The present legislation on fish passes in Northern Ireland is not good. Effectively, any device, no matter how poor, can be described as a "fish pass" so long as a DCAL officials holds the opinion that it aids fish passage. There is an urgent need to upgrade the existing legislation. The consideration of fishery measures at weirs and dams has seen a situation where the commitment to fishery protection measures has been plainly lacking on the part of DCAL and associated bodies. There is a significant need for an increase in the quality of the input by DCAL for fishery protection measures.

10. Funding

Government financial support for the FCBNI/Central Fishing Authority is needed - mainly in the form of a direct subvention, partly in recognition of the "policing" role of the FCBNI in law enforcement, to establish a firm financial base. The SEP is the first major investment in the wild fisheries since 1966. It is more welcome and has heralded a new phase of co-operation amongst the clubs and fishery authorities. It is vital that the SEP is expanded into a full-scale Development Programme for fisheries.



Central Fisheries Board (ROI)


Department of Agriculture


Department of Agriculture and Rural Development


Department of Culture Arts and Leisure


Department of the Environment


European Union


Environmental Impact Assessment


Environment and Heritage Service (of DOE)


International Council for the Exploration of the Sea


Fisheries Conservancy Board for Northern Ireland


Foyle Fisheries Commission


Foyle Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission


North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation


Northern Ireland


Northern Ireland Environmental Link


Republic of Ireland


Special Area of Conservation


Salmon Enhancement Programme (part of the Peace and Reconciliation Fund)


Ulster Angling Federation


The game fisheries in Northern Ireland, ie salmon and trout, are exploited by netting for commercial gain, and by rod angling. All six counties of the Province offer game angling whilst some commercial netting takes place at sea for salmon, and uniquely netting of salmon and trout on Lough Neagh. The indigenous wild species involved are salmon, brown trout, and a number of brown trout sub-species, eg sea trout, Lough Neagh trout (dollaghan) and Lough Erne trout. Lough Melvin is widely recognised as a prime example of a pristine habitat with unique sub-species of brown trout eg gillaroo and sonaghan. The rainbow trout is an introduced species and, as it does not breed in the wild, is confined to lake angling in stocked waters.

Such local salmon and trout populations are regarded the world over as a prized sporting quarry, worthy of the utmost care and attention: not simply for their beauty and the almost unbelievable complexity of their life cycle but because they are an indication of the health of their waters, a litmus paper to tell us if our environment is in good condition.

Salmon and trout require a high quality habitat in order to survive; a natural riverbed with the naturally occurring pool/riffle sequences, meanders and bends, and bankside vegetation. They also require clean water with high levels of oxygenation, and natural water flows resulting from seasonal variations to which they have become finely tuned over the thousands of years of residence in our waters. Such a regime will provide the habitat and also the food sources needed for the fish to thrive - this is all that is required to allow these wonderful creatures to continue to populate our waters as they have done for so long.

A number of researches carried out over the years show that even for the town dweller, people are reassured to know that there are salmon and trout in the river, healthy bird populations, and the badgers and the otters are thriving. In a world under ever increasing environmental pressure, the knowledge that there are fish in their river is a comfort to communities with an increasing environmental awareness, a sense of what has already been lost, and a commitment to preserving what remains.

These "salmonid" (ie referring to both salmon and trout) species have been in our rivers for roughly 10,000 years, that is, since the end of the last ice age. In that time they have developed settled populations to the extent that fishery scientists can now identify distinct "families" or population groups, both in adjoining rivers and even within the catchments of individual rivers. This genetic diversity is one of the miracles of nature, a precious resource deserving our commitment to the conservation and protection of the wild salmon and trout of the Province.


Both the commercial netsmen and the anglers exploit the game fisheries of Northern Ireland.

The netsmen fish mostly for salmon in the sea using a variety of nets both fixed and unfixed, with further netting on Lough Neagh for brown trout (dollaghan) and salmon. Almost all coastal netsmen are "part-time" ie not wholly dependent on salmon for income, with a number fishing on virtually a hobby basis. Catches are in long term decline, now being around one quarter to one-sixth of that of thirty years ago. Due to the falling catches a number of nets are no longer fished. The extent of salmon and trout netting on Lough Neagh is unknown and is loosely regulated.

Game angling in the Province is fairly widespread whilst the opportunities are reduced close to Belfast. In terms of numbers, there are around 11,000 adult anglers in the FCBNI area (all of Northern Ireland except the Foyle catchment). Anglers under eighteen do not need a licence and numbers are unknown but thought to be substantial. In the Foyle area there are around 4,500 adult and junior anglers although this includes some figures for Co Donegal, mainly in the River Finn catchment.

In all, therefore, there are probably around 17,500 adult and junior anglers.

The main angling areas for wild fish are:-

1. Lough Neagh feeder rivers, river Lower Bann, and its tributaries, for Lough Neagh trout, salmon and brown trout.

2. Foyle catchment for salmon and sea trout.

3. Lough Erne and feeder rivers for Lough Erne trout and brown trout.

4. The Antrim and Down coastal rivers for salmon and sea trout.

There are a substantial number of other small rivers, which offer angling for various species.

DCAL operate an angling estate consisting of a large number of waters offering coarse and game angling. The game angling is mostly of stocked lake fisheries whilst significantly Lough Erne (trout) and the river Bush (salmon) form part of the estate.

The river Bush is also the site of a substantial long-term scientific research study into salmon, operated by DARD, with full fish counting and hatchery facilities.

Game angling availability in the Province falls into four main areas which in general terms may be summarised as follows:

1. Fisheries operated by angling clubs. These are mainly river fisheries, mostly of wild fish. The clubs are very varied in size (up to 1000 members) and a number operate their own hatcheries. Apart from the recent Salmonid Enhancement Programme (SEP), as part of the Peace and Reconciliation Fund, these fisheries are privately funded.

2. Commercially operated stocked lakes - mostly rainbow trout fisheries. These are essentially small business ventures, sometimes run in conjunction with a fish farm. There has been a steady growth in the numbers of these fisheries in recent years.

3. Private/syndicate waters. These are a small number of waters owned by individuals/organisations and operated both for profit and for mutual benefit. Examples include the Lower Bann Salmon Fisheries operated by Bann System Ltd and a number of stretches of salmon water in the Foyle catchment eg that operated by Baronscourt Estate.

4. The DCAL Angling estate.



3.1.1 Background:

Since 1966, fisheries functions have largely been split between three bodies, The FCBNI, The FFC and DANI Fisheries Division. In a small province this was not a sensible arrangement and from the start it was obvious that the FCBNI could not fulfil its role due to lack of funding as pointed out by a number of chairmen in the FCBNI Annual Reports down the years. DANI Fisheries Division were always very jealous in maintaining their superiority and power-base in fisheries. Unfortunately this has never been matched by a will to do the job - the 1966 Fisheries Act made DANI responsible for the "supervision" and "fostering the development" of NI Fisheries but there was a consistent failure to meet their statutory obligation. In mitigation the provision of the public angling estate has always been offered as the DANI contribution to NI Fisheries and the role of this estate is recognised. However the provision of the estate masked the shameful neglect of the wild fisheries which are the real jewel in the crown. In parallel with this is the long term failure of the FFC to address the widespread poaching which has been one of the main features of the fishery - again exacerbated by a singular failure of Government to provide the resources to protect what was called by Elson & Tuomi "the most productive salmon fishery in the world".

This neglect of the wild fisheries, along with consistent failure to provide sufficient resources to the protective agencies, are some of the main features of the DANI reign in charge of inland fisheries.

3.1.2 Split Responsibility

The distribution of responsibility between the three agencies FCBNI, FFC, DANI, has, over the years, led to confusion where some aspects of fisheries are handled by more than one organisation, whilst others are neglected as "someone else's problem". Two independent reports, by the Parr Committee, and the Black Committee, recognised the obvious problems, and recommended the formation of one central fishery authority. We have paid dearly for Government failure to take this sensible advice. Compare and contrast this with the situation in the Republic of Ireland where fisheries development now enjoys a role and funding of immense proportions. NI cannot compete at that level, but we do have potential in our fisheries, which at present has little opportunity to be realised.

3.1.3 Assembly Developments

The setting up of the Assembly has unfortunately muddied the waters further by splitting fisheries matters between DARD and DCAL. This is a significant problem and must be addressed as soon as possible. The creation of FCILC is a further unnecessary complication for which there is no logical fisheries imperative.

3.1.4 Re-Organisation:

The simple fact is that in small place like NI, one central fishery authority with overall power is a prerequisite to success. The current fragmented set-up is a significant barrier to progress and is a model of inefficiency.

This authority would encompass FCBNI, FCILC, and the fishery responsibilities of the former DANI.

One obvious advantage would be the simplification of what is already an over-complicated licence structure which threatens to become even more complex if salmon tagging is introduced - this licensing structure is a nonsense in a province of 1.5m people.

3.1.5 Monitoring Role:

During the years of Direct Rule the DANI effectively were under no control, as were the various other Government agencies. It is imperative that a monitoring body is put in place to provide an independent view of the performance of the Government fishery agencies, perhaps an "OFWAT" type of person/body under the relevant Assembly Committee. The experience of the past 25 years is that without a robust external audit, fishery policy will simply not measure up. (See also 3.2.2 below).

3.1.6 Statement of Fisheries Policy and Development Programme:

Many years ago the UAF asked the then head of Department of DANI what were their policy and aims on salmon. Not only were we refused a written statement, we were also refused a verbal statement. They had no policy, no vision, and no intention.

It is vital that a Statement of Fisheries Policy is devised for inland fisheries to reflect a sensible organisational structure, and to set out the guidelines for the "way forward" via a badly needed Development Programme.


3.2.1 Lack of Confidence - Law Enforcement:

The over-riding view of the vast majority of people associated with fisheries in NI reflects a lack of confidence in the various authorities to "do the job". In many respects this is a manifestation of the inability of those agencies eg FCBNI, DOENI, FFC, to secure sufficient funding to provide the necessary resources. This of course fails to recognise the efforts of those agencies in endeavouring to stretch their resources to do a difficult job.

DOE Statistics 1998: 2506 pollution incidents reported (7 per day)
1641 substantiated
95 prosecuted
17 warning letters issued

These statistics highlight the low number of incidents resulting in prosecution. Many of the unsubstantiated reports are due to time elapsing between detection and investigation.

The UAF and many anglers have paid tribute to the efforts of the Fishery Boards over the years, nevertheless the prevailing feeling in the community is that these agencies lack the proper tools for the job; why is policing fishery law different from policing any other law? Why is this aspect of law enforcement the only one the country, which has to be self-financed. This is law enforcement pure and simple and there is a need to ensure that the responsibility for financing law enforcement is placed where it belongs - with the exchequer.

3.2.2 Lack of Confidence - The pollution Precedent:

Another aspect of the lack of confidence referred to above relates to pollution control. For years the UAF and its member clubs have been lobbying for a greater effort in pollution control. Year after year, meeting after meeting, we were told that everything possible was being done, and that the battle against pollution was being won. This was of course directly opposite to all of the feedback from angling clubs where members run the gauntlet of overflowing sewage works and farm effluent on our rivers. In a sense this was the inevitable result of a fishery department (DANI) which simply was not interested in rivers or wild fisheries - only the "put and take" lakes in their own public angling estate.

The denouement was provided by the 1999 Report of the Auditor and Comptroller General on River Pollution. In this one report, all of the assurances of former years were swept aside and the real position laid bare - our rivers are polluted and getting worse. It is this type of situation, unfortunately so typical in fishery matters, which has bred the widespread lack of confidence prevailing at present. There is a need for regular independent reviews of the pollution situation.

3.2.3 Lack of Confidence - Crown Exemptions:

Throughout the EU there is supposed to be a principle called "the polluter pays" - except in NI that is. For decades, anglers have watched as sewage has poured into our rivers in various ways but despite being consistently one of the worst pollution offenders, DOE Water Service does not pay, has not paid, and will not pay.

It is vital that this major source of pollution is made answerable to the law. Only when Water Service officials are in the dock can we expect the reaction the waters deserve. Why should farmers, industry, householders, etc face the law while Water Service remains aloof? This is a huge source of resentment in the fishery community; there is a need to make water service amenable to the law.


Magistrates in general take a lenient view of pollution incidents and serious fishery offences. Although the maximum fine for polluting a watercourse is £20,000, fines of £100 and less are commonplace. Defence lawyers typically plead that £x has been, or will be, spent on preventative measures and a derisory fine is imposed. The Courts tend to treat poaching as a minor offence with fines similar to licence offences (usually under £100). There is also a reluctance to convict industry and fish farmers for breach of fishery protection regulations. There is a crying need to have the courts apply levels of fines commensurate with the damage being done.

According to DOE statistics for 1997, of the pollution incidents resulting in prosecutions, the average fine was £207.



4.1.1 Eutrophication

Agricultural land in Northern Ireland is generally being subjected to a significant surplus of nutrients from fertilisers and slurry. Much of the excess goes to enrich our waterways to the extent that for instance Lough Neagh is one of the most excessively enriched bodies of water in Europe. Urgent action to reduce nutrient application is needed; Government response to date might be described as too little, too late. The time-scales for seeing results from corrective action are very long and this issue needs to be addressed urgently.

4.1.2 Implementation of the Report "Control of River Pollution in NI"

This report was produced by the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General for NI. The UAF had for many years been lobbying for a better effort to monitor and control pollution, only to be told by Government that the situation was not as bad as we suggested. This report voiced significant concern at the low quality of the Government effort on water pollution and set out a framework for a considerable upgrading of pollution control efforts. It is significant that it was necessary for an independent review body to overcome Government failure. A firm commitment to carrying out the recommendations of the report is now needed.

4.1.3 Catchment Management Plans

The protection of our waterways is at present somewhat unco-ordindated. The concept of Catchment Management Plans encompasses a wide-ranging assessment of the needs and capabilities of a particular river/lough catchment. These should include water quality objectives and assessments of the assimilative capacity of the waters. There is a need to introduce these Plans for the main river/lough catchments.

4.1.4 Forestry Practice

It is important that forestry practice should take account of the environmental aspects and influences on the total ecology of the area. Changes to planting regimes, for example the planting of native hardwoods along river corridors, provides both sustainable forestry and contributes to the well being of the river habitat.

Forests should have drainage patterns that do not cause harmful effects within the total catchment. Coniferous forests can cause changes to drainage patterns and add to problems of acidification of rivers and streams; balanced and mixed planting can reduce these problems and add to the visual amenity of the area both for the anglers and other recreational users.

4.1.5 EU Water Framework Directives

There is a need for EHS to initiate preparations for the introduction of the new Directive. This is an important consideration for the EHS water quality monitoring programme. All involved departments will require to be adequately funded to meet the requirements of the Directive.

4.1.6 Farm Pollution

More slurry and fertiliser is being spread on agricultural land than can be absorbed. The excess is generating a steady deterioration of water quality in Northern Ireland rivers and loughs. Urgent action is needed to address this long-term problem which may take decades to resolve. Action is also required to address individual farm pollution discharges by means of a range of preventative measures including farm visits by Government agencies to assess risk. Appendix 5 sets out detailed estimates for the value of game fishery habitats.

4.1.7 Sewage Treatment Works

It is by now well established that in general terms the sewage treatment infrastructure in NI is in need of very substantial investment to reach acceptable standards. Years of shortfall need now to be recovered and we look forward to the Assembly ensuring that the requisite action is initiated.

4.1.8 Water Treatment Works

There have been a number of extremely severe pollution incidents emanating from Water Treatment Works which have resulted in almost total destruction of aquatic life in the affected waterway. There is a need to carry out assessment of chemical handling facilities and practices to eliminate the risk as far as possible.

4.1.9 Phosphate Introductions

Phosphate introductions to waterways via fertilisers, detergents, etc are major contributors to eutrophication. There is a need to bring forward legislation for phosphate reductions in these products to reduce the pollutants at source.

4.1.10 Slurry Spreading Practice

The conditions in which slurry is spread on land can have a significant affect on pollution resulting from the practice. If the land is wet there is a tendency for the slurry to run off the surface into the nearest watercourse. This is a difficult issue to resolve, as the state of the land on which slurry is spread is a subjective judgement. Also, there is a need to confine the spreading of slurry to the growing season. There is a need for DARD to consider these issues and bring forward regulations to address the problems.

4.1.11 Sheep Dips

Permanent sheep dips should be located in such a way as to prevent contamination and insidious pollution of the aquatic environment; the illicit disposal of these materials poses a serious threat to both human health and the health of the environment. It is imperative that the materials used in sheep dips, particularly mobile units, require a disposal licence.

4.1.12 Septic Tanks

The use of septic tanks continues to expand; these depend on regular maintenance for proper operation, something that is not observed in many instances. Experience shows those complaints to EHS rarely result in effective action. There is a need for increased education and enforcement to reduce the number of malfunctioning tanks.

4.1.13 Landfill Sites

The quality of provision and management of landfill sites has improved in recent years however there remain significant pollution risks from this source. The introduction of landfill tax has led to an increase in fly tipping. A number of recent landfill site proposals have depended on locations close to watercourses. There is a need to ensure that locations for these sites are chosen so as not to be near watercourses to minimise risks of pollution discharges and that fly tipping problems are addressed.

4.1.14 Industrial Pollution

The sources of industrial pollution remain depressingly familiar, as an examination of the records will show. The regular appearance of the same old sources, eg sandwashing, cement works, etc indicates that a new direction is needed to address these sources, as present methods are not succeeding.


4.2.1 Water Act Regulations for Abstraction

At present there are no regulations to control water abstractions from waterways. The power to create regulations has been available since 1972 but never used. Abstraction of water can leave sections of river with extremely low water levels, in some instances a dry riverbed, damaging the habitat for fish, insects, birds etc and making obstacles such as weirs impossible to ascend. Abstraction regulations, requiring environmental impact analysis, are urgently needed.

4.2.2 Disposal of Sludge

Disposal of wastes from water supply works has been a matter of great concern for some years. Aluminium sludge for instance is spread on upland bog areas - a practice, which would never be countenanced in Great Britain. Sludge disposal methods need to be reviewed.

4.2.3 Research and Promotion of Reduction Measures in Water Consumption

Water usage by consumers continues to grow - generating a continual need for new sources of supply. There is a need to greatly increase the level of research and development into methods of reduction of water usage to reduce the significant environmental impact of the demands of increased water demand.

4.2.4 Handling of Chemicals

There have been a number of severe water pollution events caused by water treatment works eg River Roe and River Upper Bann. There is a need to review the infrastructure for the use of these dangerous chemicals along with an examination of working practices of personnel.


4.3.1 Protection of Cormorants

Cormorants are causing widespread damage to fisheries. There has been an unnatural increase in the population of this species. The present level of protection needs to be removed and consideration given to a programme of reduction of numbers back to the lower long-term population level.

4.3.2 River Corridors

The protection of river corridors from development not only benefits fisheries but a wide range of animals and vegetation. Significant benefit has been recorded on a wide scale in the Republic of Ireland following fisheries measures along rivers. The resulting protected waterway "corridor" provides a safe haven for a great mixture of species, both land and water-based - this concept needs to be adopted and expanded by NI Government Agencies.

4.3.3 More Active Consideration of Waterways

The well being of our waterways has never been high on the list of priorities of any of the Government agencies charged with their protection. It seems that everybody and everything has to be considered first and the poor old waterways are left at the end of the queue. There is a need to accept the social and environmental importance of our waterways, and to frame Government policies accordingly.

4.3.4 Access to the Countryside

The Assembly is considering countryside access. It is important that the issue of Occupiers' Liability is firmly addressed if there is to be any relaxation of the rights of landowners, etc. Any 'Right to Roam' change must be framed to safeguard the rights of the riparian owners. Future policy must ensure that enjoyment by legitimate recreational users, eg anglers, is not compromised by the increased rights of others who do not contribute to the management of the property in question.

4.3.5 Biodiversity

The maintenance of healthy fishery habitat also contributes to the major government policy requirement of maximum biodiversity in that the game anglers quarry species is at the top of the food chain and is therefore dependent on every link in the chain being maintained in an optimum healthy condition. The maintenance of a pristine angling environment free of pollution also contributes to the EU requirements of the Habitats Directive and also the 'Birds Directive'.

The recommendations contained within the NI Biodiversity Strategy Proposals of June 1999 should be implemented. This important document sets out a framework for the safeguarding of the Biodiversity of our species for the future. In particular the following individual recommendations are vital to our fishery.

Recommendation 30 - Complete and implement a comprehensive River Conservation Strategy

Recommendation 31 - Develop and implement an eutrophication control strategy.

Recommendation 32 - Prepare and implement management plans for all catchments, in co-operation with the authorities in the Republic of Ireland where appropriate.

Recommendation 33 - Adopt stronger measures, including in the enforcement of anti-pollution legislation to minimise the entry of effluent and solid wastes into water.

4.3.6 EU Habitats Directive:

This was introduced by the EU in 1992, legislation was passed in NI in 1995; it requires member states to protect endangered species and their habitats by SAC designation.

The freshwater habitat of salmon is listed in the Directive, however NI has not designated any rivers as SAC's (Special Areas of Conservation).

The EU consider the number of site designated in United Kingdom to be inadequate; there is a need to have salmon habitats designated under this Directive in NI.


4.4.1 Consultation on Drainage Works.

The level of consultation with fishery operators, owners and lessees, before drainage works by Rivers Agency, is not good enough. The effects of this agency on in-river habitats can be very severe and it is of the utmost importance that the work is done in a manner sensitive to the waterway. The opportunity should be taken, when maintenance is required, to carry out fishery habitat restoration. There is a need to incorporate fishery restoration in maintenance work, and improve consultation before such works are carried out.

4.4.2 Restoration After Drainage Works.

After many decades of desperately destructive river drainage and canalisation, many of our waterways have been left in an unnatural and damaged state. There is a significant need for a programme of river restoration works to attempt to go at least some way towards making good the damage that has been done.

4.4.3 Culverts.

The practice of culverting, or covering over, small streams is becoming more commonplace. This reduces the quality of the environment generally, and the productivity of rivers in particular. There is a need to address this problem and reduce the extent of culverting, which takes place.

4.4.4 Wetland Restoration

As a result of the widespread drainage works on our rivers, the extent of wetlands has been greatly reduced. This has damaged river flow regimes and environmental quality - restoration of wetlands should be a priority.

4.4.5 Agri-environment Funding Schemes

The financial framework for agriculture should be reviewed for opportunities to encourage the restoration of wetlands.

4.4.6 Government Expenditure on Canals and Navigation.

There has been vast expenditure on restoration of canals, and the provision of navigational facilities. If only a fraction of these monies were directed to fisheries, a much-improved rate of return could be achieved. There is a need to critically review the funding of these schemes to release monies to the cash-starved fisheries sector.

4.4.7 Gravel Extraction

Gravel extraction takes place on a number of rivers and is an anachronism in an age when riverbeds are in need of protection and conservation. There is a need to bring forward regulations to outlaw the practice.


4.5.1 Bridge Foundations

Bridge design and construction need to ensure that fish passage is not obstructed and that efficient fish passes are constructed where necessary. There is a need for Roads Service to produce design guidelines in association with fishery authorities.

4.5.2 Culverts

Culverts with an incline of as little as 2 or 3 degrees can be a major impediment to fish passage ie too little water in low flow conditions and too high a velocity in high flows. These problems have been largely ignored in the past. There is a need for Procedures to be introduced to ensure suitable design. See - River Crossing and Migratory Fish Design Guidance - Scottish Executive April 2000.


4.6.1 Waterways Ireland Environmental Brief:

New cross-border bodies are being set up - including Waterways Ireland. It is obvious that this body will have the potential to be a source of environmental conservation, given a suitable brief. There is a need to ensure that Waterways Ireland has a strong brief for environmental conservation, protection, and improvement.

4.6.2 Review of the Angling Estate of DCAL:

The angling estate operated by DCAL is a wide-ranging facility covering many areas of the province, which enjoys significant public subsidy. There is a lack of equivalent investment in the wild fisheries, which suffer by comparison. There is a need to assess the extent of and return on investment in the public angling estate to compare with investment in the wild fisheries as an alternative.

4.6.3 Strangford Lough Project - Sea Trout

This project, if developed, could become a major tourist attraction and create 240 jobs at an estimated cost of £4,000 per job, much lower than the cost of creating industrial employment. The project is based on the highly successful Funen Sea Trout Fishery in Denmark worth £8m per annum to the Danish economy. Strangford has advantages over Funen eg higher water temperature, richer aquatic environment, and is almost totally enclosed.

4.6.4 Fish Passes

Legislation needs to be strengthened and properly enforced eg in England when a design is submitted; approval is granted subject to monitoring of its effectiveness for fish passage - if not satisfactory, the builder is obliged to rectify the problem. Recent Scottish legislation requires that sufficient water is in the fish pass at all times when available before abstraction. There is a need to improve the present poor legislation.

4.6.5 Introduction of Non-Native Species

Introductions, accidentally or deliberate, almost always have a detrimental impact on native species through competition or introduction of disease. Examples of introductions to Northern Ireland, causing serious problems, include roach, giant hog-weed, mink, Japanese knot-weed and, more recently, Zebra Mussels. The transfer of salmon from Sweden to Norway introduced Gyrodactylus to salmon stocks that had no resistance to the parasite, resulting in the total loss of salmon and trout in many rivers. Likewise the transfer of coarse fish from Northern Ireland to England has introduced a disease which had devastated native stocks.

4.6.6 Genetic Integrity

Various stocking measures have been carried out on many river systems in NI over the years. There is evidence that there are distinct populations of fish in our rivers, which highlights the risk in stocking with fish from a source outside of the native water eg, a fish farm. There is a need to maintain the genetic integrity of stocks as far as possible in stocking activities.


4.7.1 River Corridor Concept

The protection of river corridors is a fundamental aspect of environmental conservation and requires to be adopted by all Government agencies. This is set out fully in Appendix 2 (See also 4.3.1). This is one of the most important and urgent issues in environmental conservation in NI today.

4.7.2 Environmental Impact Statements

Environmental Impact Statements have begun to be used in Northern Ireland in recent years. Unfortunately the quality of most E.I.A.s is very poor - particularly in the case of hydroelectric schemes. There is a need for Government to insist that the quality of any EIA must meet set standards.

4.7.3 Hydro-electric Schemes

The circumstances surrounding the development of hydroelectric schemes in Northern Ireland has been very regrettable and many schemes have been given planning permission as a result of the inability of the planning service to properly apply EIA techniques. Government needs to raise the quality of its service in this respect, as there is effectively no protection at present.

4.7.4 Riverbank Housing and Development

The planning service in recent decades has permitted ribbon and individual developments along riverbanks. This inevitably increased polluting discharges, dumping, and associated practices. Also the fencing and building of walls to the waters edge destroys the possibility of creating continuous bankside habitat for flora and fauna. Inevitably, there may well be a call for river drainage works to prevent 'flooding' as incredibly planning permission is often given to building in flood plains. A strong injection of common sense is needed to stop the destruction of riverbank environments by these developments - the planning service needs to review their policy in this area.

4.7.5 Bog Protection

The destruction of boglands in Northern Ireland has been well documented and is widespread: these bogs form part of our river and wetland ecosystem and are in need of protection. There is a need for Government agencies to place an environmental value on these boglands and provide the protection framework they deserve.

4.7.6 Area Plans - Infrastructure RSPB 11

There has been in Northern Ireland a widespread practice by planning service of ignoring the capacity of infrastructure, notably sewage treatment works, to cope with new developments. There is a need to ensure that developments are only permitted if local sewage treatment and pipework systems have suitable capacity for the additional load.

4.7.7 Industrial Development

The tracing of polluting discharges, some via storm drains, from these areas can be made almost impossible by the intricate nature of the underground pipework system and the lack of proper record information. There is a need for improvement in development planning methods to reduce the problem.


4.8.1 Lack of Published Government Policy

It is recognised that Government through its various departments and policies, is committed to environmental protection. Nevertheless the lack of a stated policy document allows "drift" in the application of (unstated) policies even when there is an attempt to meet agreed commitments. There is a need for a NI Environmental Strategy. The document produced by NIEL in May of 1996 might be used as a basis.



5.1.1 Government financial support for the FCBNI is needed - mainly in the form of a direct subvention, partly in recognition of the "policing" role of the FCBNI in law enforcement, to establish a firm financial base.

5.1.2 A review of management organisation.

5.1.3 The Department of Agriculture and the FCBNI to ensure that adequate fishery stock management information is compiled.

5.1.4 The power of the Minister to choose which UAFL representatives sits on the FCBNI to be ended.

5.1.5 The quality of the FCBNI Annual Report to be maintained and enhanced.

5.1.6 Add to the budget of the FCBNI a public subvention on a similar scale to that enjoyed by the Foyle Fisheries Commission.


There is a proposal at present from EHS to take back the pollution monitoring function. This would make a very inefficient arrangement where two completely separate groups of people are in the rivers - the FCBNI for general bailiffing and the EHS for pollution control - needless and wasteful exercise. There is a need to ensure that pollution monitoring duties remain with the FCBNI.



In light of the recent re-organisation, there is an obvious need to set up a reasonable body to ensure the voice of the anglers is heard. As most of the constructive work on the system is coming from the anglers, it is imperative that management decisions may be subject to influence from the anglers on the basis of protection and conservation.


The publication of annual reports has been subject to a series of regrettable delays. There is a need to arrange prompt publication of annual reports.


It is important that urgent consideration is given to the classification of the fishery legislation that is to be applied to this area. The new spatial separation does not create an effective or efficient working unit. There is also the major problem of the adjacent areas eg the South Armagh area is now isolated from the FCB area. Some consideration should be given to the issue of rod licences on a provincial basis with the proportional allocation of funds to the management bodies. The whole area of juvenile licensing needs overhaul - eg

FCB area no licence required
Foyle Carlingford juveniles require a licence

6.4 Poaching/Bailiffing

Poaching has been a significant problem in certain areas. There is a need to improve the bailiffing effort, partly in conjunction with angling clubs where appropriate. The general view on the system at present is that bailiffing is not adequate.



7.1.1 Preface:

Lough Neagh is the largest fresh-water lough in the British Isles. The Lough Neagh/ Bann catchment drains 40% of Northern Ireland and has a cross-border aspect with the Blackwater catchment - the largest tributary of Lough Neagh.

Lough Neagh has a significant commercial fishery for eels, pollen and perch worth some £4m per annum, employing approximately 200 fishermen.

This fishery could be better managed and policed.

7.1.2 Commercial Fishing for Game Fish

Commercial fishing for trout (dollaghan) and salmon takes place in Lough Neagh, the only commercial freshwater lake fishery for these species in the British Isles. There are few controls and no records of numbers caught. In the case of salmon this failure is contrary to the requirements of the NASCO agreement which requires parties to the treaty to collate and report all salmon catches. Development of angling on the Lough Neagh tributaries will be constrained while this situation is allowed to continue.

Major issues that require to be addressed are:-

1. A reduction/cessation of commercial fishing.

2. The provision of efficient fish passes at Carnroe (on the Lower Bann) and on various tributaries.

3. Management of levels of Lough Neagh and flows in the Lower Bann to facilitate salmon migration.

4. Urgent action to reduce pollution and enrichment. If nutrient (mainly phosphate) enrichment of Lough Neagh continues, fish survival in the Lough will be at risk.

7.1.3 Salmon Catch Records

Historically the system had an abundance of salmon, a significant percentage of which were "spring" fish (the most valuable of salmon) and now sadly a rarity. Records record commercial catches in excess of 20,000 in the mid 1800's.

Experiments in the 1970's indicated that the commercial traps at The Cutts, Coleraine, caught 20% of salmon running the Bann system. In 1998 the DANI Science Service advised NASCO that the minimum number of salmon surviving to spawn required to adequately stock the system, was 16,000 salmon based on a 'desktop' analysis.

The traps have not operated since 1996. The average catch in the previous five years was approximately 2,000 salmon. This suggests a total escapement of 8,000 before commercial fishing on Lough Neagh, anglers catch and predation, poacher's etc. The fish counter at Portna (at Kilrea - on the Lower Bann) operational (in part) since 1997 indicates that the escapement is less than 5,000.

Thus a system requiring some 16,000 fish as a minimum for spawning is actually achieving only some 5,000/8,000 fish before in river exploitation, and predation.

Recently in discussion as to the status of salmon stocks in the system, following a presentation of their "Salmon Management Plan", the DANI Science Service view was - 'we don't know!' This plan is based on a very long-term approach and it is likely to be another 10 years before they can reach any conclusion.

If the Lough Neagh system is to approach its potential an holistic approach is required based on information currently available, not in 10 years time when it may be too late.

7.1.4 Sand Bars

The lowering of the level of Lough Neagh has created difficulties for fish migration to the tributaries by the formation of sandbars at the mouth of the Moyola, Ballinderry and Crumlin rivers - a continuing programme of dredging is required.

7.1.5 Flow Management

The water levels of Lough Neagh and the flows in the River Bann are artificially controlled by floodgates at Toome. Salmon migrate in response to changes in river flows. There is a need to have a programme of sympathetic management of flows including freshets, to draw fish in from the sea and distribute them throughout the system.


7.2.1 Jet Skis

Jet skis are causing continual disruption of other water users, and their characteristics are the opposite of what is desirable in the environment of the Lough. It seems inevitable that unless action is taken, injuries or deaths from accidents will occur. There is a need to adopt a speed limit restriction on the Lough (similar to the Lake Windermere situation) which will have the effect of confining jet ski activity to smaller controlled waters where regulation of the activity is possible.

7.2.2 Cruisers

The introduction of very large cruisers on the Lough is creating problems caused by the wake of these boats. This has caused a number of dangerous situations for smaller craft. There is a need to limit cruiser speed and severely limit the number of these large boats on the Lough.

7.2.3 New Erne Bye-Laws

There is an urgent need to review the Erne byelaws, not least in respect of the two items outlined above.

7.2.4 Erne Salmon Restoration

The Erne Salmon restoration scheme is deserving of support but a note of reality in respect of certain issues would benefit the scheme. Firstly, the netting of salmon in the immediate sea area is obviously nonsense and requires to be discontinued. The barrier represented by the hydroelectric scheme needs examination in respect of ascending adult fish and descending smolts. The potential for disruption by eel weirs is an aspect that requires some consideration.

7.2.5 Management Structure

The management structure for the Erne system needs to be examined in the new circumstances prevailing as a result of local government changes.


7.3.1 Zebra Mussels

Zebra mussels are now endemic in Lough Erne and threaten Lough Neagh and Lough Melvin. There is a need for a major campaign of education to reduce the potential for the spread of this creature, and a programme of research to investigate the possibilities for control.



One of the problems with monitoring of weirs and hydro electric schemes is that the operators pay nothing to the FFC/FCBNI for this service. Instead, the cost is borne by the anglers via the licence fee! This is typical of the "hands off" treatment of weir/ hydro operators by the authorities. There is a need to apply reasonable charges to cover the costs of FFC/FCBNI supervision of these areas.


The practice by DCAL of applying widespread exemptions to the fishery law in respect of weirs and hydroelectric schemes causes a great deal of concern in the angling community. The secrecy involved generates a climate of mistrust and there is now effectively no legislation to be observed - only the secret opinion of DCAL officials who are answerable to no one. The views of fishery operators are of no weight in this circumstance and an urgent review of the situation by DCAL is needed as all confidence in their will be protect fisheries has disappeared.


The EIA's produced for planning permission applications has been extremely poor, sometimes non-existent and a major effort is needed by the planning agency to address this.


The present legislation on fish passes in Northern Ireland is not good. Effectively, any device, no matter how poor, can be described as a "fish pass" so long as DCAL officials holds the opinion that it aids fish passage. Once again fundamental fishery measures are at the mercy of DCAL opinion, answerable to no one. There is an urgent need to replace the existing legislation with sensible fish-pass requirements comprising a written specification and procedure incorporating the best elements of the England and Scottish legislation.


The consideration of fishery measures at weirs and dams has seen a situation where the commitment to fishery protection measures has been plainly lacking on the part of DCAL and associated bodies. A number of schemes have been approved on the basis of the most flimsy and transparently unsuitable protection measures. There is a significant need for an increase in the quality of the input by DCAL for fishery protection measures.


The tidal barrage on the river Quoile has been a barrier to the passage of sea trout and salmon, since construction. Built in an age when fishery protection measures were not of great importance, this river was an excellent salmon and sea trout fishery prior to the barrage. There is a need for an examination of this obstruction to provide a means of allowing the passage of migratory fish.



The FCBNI area has returned a salmon net catch averaging 11,000 fish for recent years with an estimated rod catch in the region of 3,000 fish. Approximately 10 drift nets and 24 bag/draft nets are operated under exceptionally generous licensing conditions, almost all on the north-east coast of the province. The net catch is now around one third of the figures returned 30 years ago. Recent proposals to reduce netting pressure, especially for spring fish, which are extremely scarce, were rejected by the Department of Agriculture for NI who retained overall control.

For statistical records the Foyle Area net catch is split 50:50 between Northern Ireland and the Republic. In fact the net catch accrues almost entirely to the Republic of Ireland, to boats from NE Donegal. Most of the rod catch is taken in NI rivers but the Finn River in Donegal accounts for significant rod catches.

The Foyle area has returned a salmon net catch averaging 37,000 fish in recent years. Rod catch figures are very inaccurate but probably are in the region of 7,500 fish. Approximately 110 drift and 55 draft nets are operated. The net catch is now one-quarter of the figures returned 30 years ago. There have been no moves to curtail netting pressure during the present 6-week netting season. Poaching is a significant problem in some areas.

In summary, counting the Foyle as a "Northern Ireland" catchment, the recent average net and rod catch of salmon is around 60,000 fish of which around half are taken by drift nets.


Wild salmon populations are in long term decline right across the North Atlantic. Whilst environmental and other factors have been identified as contributing to the decline, fishery scientists have not clearly established any primary cause of the inexorable reduction in wild salmon numbers.

The World Wildlife Fund has now designated the wild Atlantic salmon as an endangered species.

International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) scientists state that the wild Atlantic salmon stock is at a historically low level, with low marine survival rates a particular problem. The Canadian fishery is experiencing a stock collapse despite an almost total cessation of commercial fishing and may be moving towards de facto extinction.

ICES have issued this month (June 2000) their most severe warnings yet that action must be taken to reduce salmon catches in the face of the stock reductions.

NASF is experiencing difficulty in negotiating "buy outs" with the Faeroes and Greenland as the European nations have not done enough to reduce their own commercial catch. In particular, Ireland is seen as the "bad boy" of the Atlantic being the only country, which has not taken a policy decision to phase out drift nets.

Recent years have seen great changes in the way salmon are treated as a resource. Farmed salmon now form some 98% of all salmon consumed and the netting of wild salmon is viewed as an anachronism and waste of a precious asset right across the North Atlantic from Canada and the USA to Iceland and beyond.

Increasingly, communities are becoming aware that salmon harvested by rod and line by anglers contribute many times more economic benefit than salmon harvested by nets. The wild salmon is now simply too valuable to be wasted meeting the "Food Demand" which is more than satisfied by an ever growing and important salmon farming industry.

As a result, the trend right across the North Atlantic is to phase out the netting of wild salmon, and to institute enhancement programmes to reverse the decline in numbers. Crucially, the future harvesting of the wild salmon is then by rod and line by anglers. Thus maximising the economic benefit to the community and minimising the exploitation pressure on the fish itself.


Scotland In 1983 it was reported that the rod catch of salmon was 15% of the total and generated some £140 million of revenue. The commercial salmon catch was 85% of the total and generated some £5 million.

Eire In 1986 the Central Fishery Board reported that the rod catch of salmon was 4% of the total, while the commercial catch was 96% of the total.

In 1987 the revenue from game rod angling was £35 million, while the revenue from the commercial salmon catch was £8 million.

Iceland Revenue from salmon rod angling is so great that virtually all commercial fishing for salmon has been stopped.

Canada In 1981 it was estimated that the average revenue from a rod-caught salmon was 200 dollars; revenue from a commercially caught salmon approximately 18 dollars. A vast development programme for enhancement of the salmon resource has been undertaken with significant sectors of the commercial fishery being closed.


The Salmon Research Station at Bushmills has been in existence some 30 years and has produced data on salmon, which is highly regarded in an international context. However this is apparently the only area of the British Isles where scientists are unable to express an opinion on the status of our local salmon stocks! An urgent review is required of the objectives of the project with the aim of addressing the immediate needs of our own local fisheries in co-operation with fishery interests.

Anglers have been extremely concerned at the long-term degradation in the salmon run on the River Bush. The operation of the research facility has had significant detrimental effects on the fishery to the point where the salmon fishery upstream of Bushmills has been all but destroyed compared to its former position under the MacNaughton family. There is an urgent need to take drastic action to reverse this deterioration.

Appendix 4 shows the fall in salmon catches in the FFC and FCBNI areas. All the available evidence, juvenile stock surveys, etc demonstrate that salmon stocks are presently very low.

Tragically, despite the presence of the River Bush research project, there is a lack of regular scientific analysis of local salmon stocks. The UAF feel this need not be the case as the presence, for instance, of a fish counter at Portna would give some hard evidence of stock levels.

There is a significant predation problem with cormorants, which have seen a large unnatural rise in numbers in recent years. There is an urgent need to remove the "protection" cormorants enjoys under EU law. Seal numbers also pose a threat and an assessment of the damage from this source is needed.

The river Lower Bann is a hugely significant area for NI salmon - at present there is room for great improvement of the fish pass arrangements at Carnroe as large numbers of fish get delayed for long periods there. This is a major barrier to fish movement through the system and must be addressed at an early stage.

There are a number of salmon nets which are owned, and which can be bought and sold as property. Further, there is a perception among most salmon netsmen that they "own" the salmon fisheries in the sense that no-one should be able to challenge their "right" to net salmon. To date the authorities have not seen fit to disabuse the netsmen of this view. In the Foyle area, where 95% of the salmon nets benefit ROI, NI has the responsibility for looking after approximately 80% of the spawning and nursery habitat.

The authorities must introduce an element of reality into this situation, so that the commercial exploitation of salmon may be phased out. The harvest of this resource by recreational rod angling will greatly reduce the pressure on the fish and also increase the monetary benefit.


Anglers in the province have for years been working for river protection, along with officers of the FFC and FCBNI. A number of salmon hatcheries have been in operation for some years and the number is gradually increasing.

Recent political developments have raised the profile of local Development Plans particularly in conjunction with the concept of Rural Development. A number of angling clubs are working with local development associations to incorporate angling development within local plans. If such moves are to be encouraged and to achieve the desired result, then some reduction in commercial fishing effort is needed to allow the enhancement to be effective, and to encourage those carrying out the work.

It has just been announced that at June 2000 agreement has been reached in Wales between drift netsmen and a consortium of salmon angling organisations to purchase the closure of the drift net fishery, as many of Welsh salmon rivers are on the brink of extinction.

"Catch and Release" as a policy by anglers is increasingly popular. It is estimated that in 1999 nets took 86% of the salmon killed in England and Wales because rod anglers are putting back half of the salmon they catch. This policy, along, with reducing bag limits on many rivers, is reducing the impact of rod fisheries on salmon stocks.

South of the border, it has just been announced that ROI is to invest £100m over 6 years in their recreational fisheries.

In March 2000 the "Government Review of Freshwater Fisheries Policy and Legislation" for England and Wales was published. This is a very substantial document and is worthy of examination by the Assembly Committee. Significantly, the review calls for an acceleration of the salmon net phase-out already planned, and the provision of Government funds to promote this. Also of great importance, Government funding for fishery protection is recommended to be substantially increased.

The salmon is a resource under pressure. High seas and local trends indicate low stock levels for the foreseeable future. There is a need to reduce the level of commercial exploitation to conserve the stock and encourage enhancement works to reverse the long-term decline.


The relative economic benefit of the rod angling as compared to commercial netting can be approach in a number of ways.

In addition to the figures quoted in clause 9.3 above, Appendix 2 shows a calculation based on the Foyle system, which demonstrates the local situation. It should be emphasised that the benefit figures used for rods in this calculation is very conservative - the actual benefit is likely to be well in excess of this.

Appendix 3 shows the calculation for the value of nets in the FCBNI and FCILC areas, along with the value of the catch in the Foyle area. The net values demonstrate that netting of salmon is mainly a "hobby" occupation.


The central theme of the development of the salmon resource in Northern Ireland has two main elements:

Both of these elements will help to provide a climate in which an expansion of the tourist angling product may occur. A framework for the development of salmon fisheries should be set up. The salmon angling field has a significant revenue earning potential. A cessation of commercial salmon fishing is needed, to be phased in over a number of years as part of a development plant. This would have a colossal impact on the game angling situation.

The development of the fishery in this manner will afford great opportunities for tourist angling development and indeed moves are already being made in this direction by the private sector, however the problem of netting of salmon is a great barrier to progress.

The gradual phasing out of netting of salmon will only bring forward the loss of economic benefit, which is gradually occurring in this sector in any case. An orderly negotiated process, helped by regional aid as part of a development plan, will pave the way to the great increase in benefit, which will accrue from the development of the fishery as a rod angling fishery. In the Elson and Tuomi report of 1975 on the Foyle System Mr Elson stated on page 140 that "I am led to the opinion that it {salmon production of the Foyle} may well have warranted the title of the most productive salmon river in the world". This is a measure of the potential value for our fisheries.

The greater availability of regional funding for development affords a golden opportunity to devise a development plan to see the NI salmon fishery into the next century, providing development opportunities, employment and increasing economic return from a healthy and vibrant rod fishery in rural areas crying out for such development.


The establishment of a framework for the phasing out of the commercial salmon fishery.

The establishment of catchment based salmon enhancement plans maximising the input of the private sector.

The development of the wild salmon resource by rod fisheries, thus maximising the economic benefit to the community.


10.1 AT SEA

As wild fish stocks come under increasing commercial fishing pressure there is an increasing demand to develop fish farming. There are a number of effects that must be regulated:

The capture of prey species e.g. sand eels and capelin to provide food for farmed fish diminishes the available resource in the food chain and creates increased pressure on wild species, both human food species and other species.

The increasing pressure to optimise farmed production, which means increasing use of chemicals, with increasing threat to the natural habitat.

The proliferation of parasites e.g. sea lice wiping out sections of the wild stock.

The risk from spread of disease e.g. Infectious Salmon Anaemia.

The escape of farm stocks with serious risk to the genetic purity of wild stocks through subsequent interbreeding.


The problems presently being experienced which need action include;


The problems presently being experienced which need action include;

The development of transgenic stocks with serious risk to the genetic purity of wild stocks through escapes and subsequent interbreeding.


11.1 To obtain proper title to a fishery it is necessary first to establish the legal ownership. Every fishery in Northern Ireland belongs to someone or somebody, but not necessarily to those who own the adjoining land. And, too often, the true ownership has been obscured with the passage of time.


DANI instigated a scheme whereby "derelict" fishing rights could be exercised in the absence of a fishery owner. Whilst this was welcomed as a positive move, the fact remains that this is a very unwieldy method.

There is a need to utilise the precedent of the vesting of mineral rights in NI to vest "derelict" fishing rights to allow the proper development of fisheries.



Angling Clubs have been valuable instruments for the conservation and improvement of our fisheries. There has been a tendency in the past to keep these groups at arms length in respect of the special policy areas. This has began to change with the advent of Peace and Reconciliation Salmon Enhancement Programme, and there is a need to build on the potential of Clubs as a force for positive change.


This scheme is the first major investment in the wild fisheries since 1966. It is most welcome and has heralded a new phase of co-operation amongst the clubs and fishery authorities. It is vital that the SEP is expanded into a full-scale Development Programme for fisheries.


There is great potential for tourism in our fisheries and this may best be realised via a partnership between Clubs and the fishery authorities. Apart from its intrinsic value, angling tourism has a role to play in acting as a "taster" to the tourists who may then see the potential of NI as a family tourist destination.


The simple fact is that Angling Clubs in NI have control of 90% of the wild fisheries. These are the fisheries, which are so in demand in Europe where encroaching development/housing/industry means that for most continental anglers, the wild fisheries of Ireland represent a clear, green, environment. There is no doubt that our wild fisheries are the jewel in the crown and are deserving of investment in conjunction with the Angling Clubs as local administrators.


Angling is an excellent form of recreation for the disabled. Provision has been made at several locations for wheelchair access. Further support is required; in particular the provision of purpose built "wheelie boats" which can accommodate wheelchairs.

The often-promised (by several former ministers) introduction of concessionary angling licences should be introduced immediately.



For too long the balance between the destructive and constructive forces acting on our fisheries has been tipped in favour of the negative. With the influence of Angling Club commitment, and SEP funding, this has started to lean towards the positive.

There is a need now for committed leadership from the Assembly to ensure that the forces of protection and conservation are given resources and backing to secure the future of our game fisheries. Given this investment, there is every reason to believe that these fisheries may give long term rewards, which will be the envy of many nations.


Some anglers are wary of the potential for tourist anglers to "take over" waters. Nevertheless virtually all clubs offer day tickets for their waters. With sensitive and sensible arrangements, there is room for the tourist angler on our waters. The benefits for the local angler will accrue from the increased importance and profile of the health of rivers and lakes in government policies. In advertising the best aspects of the NI countryside, tourist angling can contribute a great deal to the future development of NI as a tourist destination.


There have been a long series of studies done in many countries, analysing the economic benefits of angling. Appendix 5 sets out detailed estimates for the value of game fishery habitats. In NI there is already a significant benefit (£2.5 m per annum from salmon angling alone), however there is no doubt that the potential exists for angling to make significant further contribution to the NI economy. The policies and actions needed to achieve this are outlined in the text of this submission - in fact it is a win/win situation as the positive moves on fisheries have significant spin-off benefits. Also we have only to look to the ROI to get some idea of the benefits which are available. With a fresh impetus from the Assembly the future can be very bright. It is now up to us to work together to realise the enormous potential of the fisheries of Northern Ireland.



The Federation is concerned to highlight the need to protect rivers from development which encroaches to the waters edge or which is detrimental to river amenity, morphology, or to aquatic life.

Rivers and the corridors of land through which they flow are major natural resources, with considerable potential as amenity, tourist, educational and recreational assets. Regrettably, the action of man has degraded, and continues to degrade this asset. In part this is due, in the Federation's view to piece-meal and uncoordinated application of statutory controls and in some cases to inadequate powers to control.

Rivers and their banks represent habitats of infinite variety.

The value of particular river systems as fisheries and for wildlife now depends on the degree and type of mans' interference within the corridor, the extent of riparian development and the water quality. The natural characteristics of rivers are, in the first instant, governed by their hydrology, which is affected by attitude, slope, geology, climate and many other factors. The range of natural features often represents the maximum potential for wildlife and it is these that are degraded or altered by physical development. Most rivers, which have been subject to little interference, have a diverse physical structure with variations in substrate types, depth, velocity and bank morphology. Examples of the range of physical habitats include: flanking rocks, stream bed boulders, waterfalls, rock-pools, shingle and gravel beds, riffles, pools, slacks, shallow earth banks; these with fringing bogs, bushes and trees. A bordering strip of trees and shrubs has many important ecological functions. River corridors affected by man usually have a different character with natural features disturbed and replaced with buildings and artificial structures. Adjacent wetland habitats may be drained, with intensive agriculture practised right up to the rivers' edges.

Despite some recent interest in rivers, many river and wetland plants and animals as well as fish species have declined in abundance, some have become threatened with extinction and some have actually become extinct. The causes of these declines are often complex but in most cases the underlying reason is undoubtedly habitat destruction.

Habitat loss in rivers and flood plains occurs in a number of ways. First there is the degradation of the diversity of channel morphology mainly from dredging and draining. Secondly, there is the loss of habitat features on riverbanks where protuberances and recesses are altered to reduce resistance and assist the efficient flow of water downstream. Thirdly, there is destruction incidental to development for housing or agricultural use, which generally occurs without changes to the channel morphology. Fourthly, there is the intensification of agricultural use on adjacent land often following dredging the river and lowering the water table.

Secondary losses often occur in drainage ditches and natural streams which flow into the main channel. If the river has been dredged to enable a lowering of the water table in adjacent land inflow streams and interlinking ditches are frequently damaged. These are often valuable spawning waters.

Development, which limits access to the river, prevents enjoyment of the amenity; it hinders the study of aquatic life and the pursuit of angling, and in some cases it can prevent river protection and policing.

The Federation believes that there is a need to keep a clear distinction between town's etc and open countryside and advocates that in open countryside riparian land should be protected from most exploitation and development.

It believes the Area Plans should identify sites for recreation and tourist facilities and contain river access proposals for public enjoyment of recreational assets; recognising that riverside amenity and tourist related development is only practicable if other development is barred from the riparian corridor. The Federation thinks that these facts should be recognised in all the Area Plans and that the Department of Environment should pursue actual protection policies.

Furthermore the Federation believes that the trend for new building along riverbanks is, like roadside development, inconsistent with traditional settlement patterns in rural areas. It has submitted to the Department that there is real environmental and ecological danger from ribbon development along riversides.

These ideas taken to their logical conclusion would result in extension of the Green Belt concept in attenuated lines along all the principal rivers; thus the essential character of the rivers as areas of amenity and recreation for both urban and rural dwellers could be preserved.

In addition, the Federation believes that drainage and land improvement schemes should be subject to searching examination using criteria going far beyond the calculation of enhancement value of riparian land and taking full account of amenity, recreation, tourism and aesthetics.

The Federation looks for commitment in all Government Departments, not just Department of Environment, to the environmental protection standard laid down by the European Community. It expects Government to implement the appropriate sections of the Water Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 and produce River Management Programmes and Regulations for the control of water abstractions.



Rods V Nets

The relative value of exploitation by rods and nets demonstrates the potential of the system. The value of the net catch is well documented by the Foyle Fisheries Commission and Department of Agriculture NI published data.

However, little work has been done on the value of the rod fishery, and the Ulster Angling Federation would suggest the following:-

a. The Foyle Fisheries Commission estimated in 1968 that average expenditure for rod anglers was £25: updated to 1989 this equates to £173 per head.

b. The Eire Economic and Social Research Institute report of 1988 estimated that expenditure by local anglers was £152.

If we accept the lower value of £152 per angler for expenditure, then Figure 1 shows the relative values and contributions to the local economy made by rods and nets. It is obvious that for a very meagre percentage of the catch, the rod fishery makes a major contribution. Consider how this contribution could grow if the wasteful netting of salmon were reduced and the rod catch increased.

The progressive collapse of the commercial fishery value is demonstrated when the 5-yearly bands are considered as set out at the bottom of Figure 1.

The value of the rod angling fishery is based on figures which the Eire Economic and Social Research Institute regard very much as minima. It is likely that since 1984 the value of the rod fishery has exceeded that of the commercial net catch.

The lesson is crystal clear. Salmon farming and the drop in value of the commercial fishery in the Foyle area demonstrates that the only viable option for the health and development of the Foyle area salmon fishery, is development as a rod angling fishery.


FIGURE 1: Number of Salmon and their Value - Rods V Nets


Net Catch Numbers

£ Million

Rod Catch

£ Million























































































45,000 est

0.81 est




Ave. value

74/78 1.30

Ave. value

74/78 0.45


79/83 0.96


79/83 0.60


84/88 0.57


84/88 0.55

Notes: 1. Values brought to 1989 prices by retail price index.
2. Net catches rounded to nearest thousand.
3. Rods value includes a figure of £35 per head for juvenile and short-term licences.




Average catch in the 5 years 1991 - 1995 36,691 fish

Average value per fish £10

Total value of the catch £367,000

Total number of nets 187

Total value of licences paid £46,100

Operational cost of netting £55,050
(assumed at 15% of total value)

Total nett profit £265,850

Nett profit per net £1,422

Nett profit per net after tax £1,208
(presumed at 15%)


Average catch in the 5 years 1991 - 1995 11,000 fish

Average value per fish £10

Total value of the catch £110,000

Total number of nets 36

Total value of licences paid £14,500

Operational Cost of Netting £16,500
(Assumed at 15% of total value)

Total Nett Profit £79,000

Nett profit per net £2,194

Nett profit per net after tax £1,865
(Presumed at 15%)

Annex 12

(Additional Submissions)

8 August 2000

On reflection, following our recent appearance before your committee, I feel it would be helpful to make the following comments:


Freshet trials on the Lower Bann are not ongoing. The Lough Neagh Government-sponsored Study Group of 1972 made recommendations for management of flows in the Lower Bann to facilitate fish migration. This included regular freshets during the summer period. A Bill incorporating these recommendations was proposed but was never implemented due to Stormont Parliament being prorogued.

In recent years, following pressure from UAF, the FCB requested that the freshets be enabled to facilitate the migration of salmon. This was resisted by DANI Fisheries and Drainage Departments, with eventual agreement for a very limited trial during 1997. DANI Fisheries installed a fish counter at Portna (Kilrea) in 1998, which quickly confirmed our view that salmon required increased flows to stimulate migration.

No further action has been taken to date.

Flows in the Lower Bann are artificially controlled at all times by use of flood gates. Freshets is the name to describe the artificial release of water from an impoundment (in this case Lough Neagh) for a short period to freshen up the river. At time of writing (08/08/00) the main run of salmon in the system are below Carnroe with very few upstream. Without substantial rain in next two weeks they will not migrate upstream until September/October.


Although we have some reservations regarding the use of part of the allocation to The Salmon Management Plan" this programme has been an outstanding success enabling clubs and fishery owners to significantly improve their fisheries providing excellent value for money.

It should be noted that if a percentage of this Fund were used to compensate our salmon netsmen to cease fishing, salmon stocks would be at least doubled in the first year and accelerate benefits from habitat improvement. Enhancement through restocking and habitat improvement although essential, is long term, taking 5 to 15 years to produce significant results.

Newell McCreight
Development Officer



Annex 13


7 June 2000

Please find enclosed, a copy of my critical appraisal of the recent Hydro-electric Monitoring Study prepared by the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd into the effectiveness of fishery protection measures at hydro-electric sites licensed by the government departments in the Northern Ireland Office, under rounds 1 and 2 of the Non Fossil Fuel Order. I thought it would be in the committee's interests, that an independent opinion was available, as, unfortunately in Northern Ireland and over a number of years, such advice was rarely sought. Because of the significance to what remains of Northern Ireland's once famous salmon fisheries, of the exploration of the hydro-electric field, I feel it would be in the public interest, if this report and accompanying material was copied in its entirety to Mr Michael McGimpsey, Minister C.A.L,. Sir Reg Empey, Minister, and the chairperson, deputy chairperson and committee members of the Department of Investment Trade and Industry, in order that they are properly informed in respect of decisions they may have to take. When committee members study the full material, I feel that they might agree with my request, that The First Minister, Mr David Trimble and the Deputy First Minister, Mr Seamus Mallon, both responsible for the Nolan standards, should, of necessity, receive a full copy. I fully realise this is an inconvenience which I would have attend to myself but for the fact that I am unsupported financially and have already made commitments in respect of our own committee and over a number of years in lobbying on fishery matters, which places the preparation of a second committee report, beyond my immediate financial means.

It is important that the experiences of myself and my colleagues over the years are read before studying the critical appraisal, in that many of the events occurring presently in fisheries in Northern Ireland, have their origins in the last decade. That material appears first and was written to a M.L.A. just as our Assembly came into being. I have changed the name to preserve confidentiality. If I were completely cynical I would say that money making opportunities are always on the long finger here, when government departments are involved. When all this material is scrutinised, it might well be, that you support me in that cynicism. The Critical Appraisal therefore, seeks to re-dress that imbalance, in that it is written from an anglers' standpoint but backed up by sound scientific studies, none of which I might add, have a disclaimer similar to that on the front of the recently published Hydro Electric Monitoring Study.

The exploration of the hydro-electric field was a tragedy for fisheries in Northern Ireland in that their productivity was at such an all time and alarming low, that its introduction threatened their very existence. Indeed all the government departments were well aware of that fact. Why they chose to disregard that fact for such a pittance of generating capacity is a matter for the committee but I have already formed my own conclusions, based on past experiences. A turbine manufacturer from Carrickfergus expected to be in the Bahamas by now and not on his own I would imagine.

Perhaps the best and telling comment on hydro-electric power generation comes from a world expert on the Atlantic Salmon, Mr Orri Vigfusson, Chairman of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund, who I might add is appalled by the circumstances prevailing in fisheries in Northern Ireland. In 1995 he wrote on our behalf to Baroness Denton, Minister for Agriculture and before any plant was licensed here, quote,

"Scientists and biologists examining the impacts of hydro developments on fish and fish habitat have found that there any many gaps in the basic knowledge of salmon biology. These gaps are largely due to the difficulty in studying the salmon. Its life cycle is complex, involving migration over long distances, taking up to seven years or more from when an egg is laid to the point where an adult fish returns to spawn. Too often decisions on hydro projects are taken in the absence of sound knowledge of the species. It is the North Atlantic Salmon Fund's recommendation that the process of reviewing applications for licensing hydro projects should be streamlined and more consideration given to environmental impact, regulation and control.

These concerns are receiving the world's attention. In Canada, authorities have recently withdrawn an intervention on the Moise river for the Saint Marguerite project. Fresh in everyone's mind is the St John's river project that destroyed one of the world's largest salmon grounds, reducing the number of returning salmon from 20,000 to a mere 4,000. I have just returned from discussions in Washington where I learnt that a decision had been taken to cancel rebuilding of the Old Bangor Dam on the Penobscot river. Devastation of salmon stocks on the Snake and Columbian rivers were recently quoted in Time magazine.

In Iceland all hydro-electric schemes have to undergo very strict investigation before they are authorised and the National Power Co takes extreme measures, consulting with interest groups well in advance of any project. We are well aware of several proposals to set up hydro schemes in Northern Ireland and would like to take up this issue with you at our proposed meeting".

Mr Vigfusson was wasting his time however. By the time he was alerted, the promises, as always in Northern Ireland, had already been made. Our salmon were sacrificed on the altar in some instances, of the power equivalent of 50 hairdryers. My over riding impression from those days was the environmental impact statements, drawn up by a turbine manufacturer from Carrickfergus. At the time we offered suggestions that turbines should be placed up at the reservoirs where the water came out under enormous pressure and there was a realistic chance of generating some electricity but some abstraction sites had changed hands in the mad rush encouraged by Mr T Maguire to exploit the field.

The era of which you will read is not one on which any democrat could reflect with any degree of pride but it was the way of life in Northern Ireland during the period of direct rule and for much longer in my opinion. It was a tragedy of course and of which these records are a witness testimony. On also has to consider how control was exercised during that period and whether the methods used were justified in the circumstances. As one chastened individual who had suffered the same ignominy as Danny Brown, Tommy Conlon, Danny Maguiness and myself, remarked to me "if you rock the boat, they'll try the money first and if that doesn't work, they'll use the mob to silence you." One question you and the committee might ponder is, how they got away with it and for the length of time that they did. The natural fear of officialdom in Northern Ireland might explain some of that unwillingness to challenge but not it all. It was the financing and by a variety of well tried, tested and in many cased covert methods, of campaigning groups, who in other countries would have been assured of their independence, which was so highly damaging. In almost every organisation involved with fisheries and more widely I suspect in Northern Ireland over the last half century, even in the campaigning role, you will find the retired of the D.A.N.I. or the D.O.E. or some other department, in positions of influence. You will also find and adequately represented I might add, those with a financial interest in maintaining the status quo. I ask you in all honesty, if I, or any of my colleagues had been in that position, would you be reading this now? On reading the material enclosed you may agree with me, that the administration of the angling estate historically has been a disaster. The greater disaster, in my opinion, is that those who believed they had, by their talents, something to offer the people here and who refused to turn a blind eye to iniquity, were effectively disenfranchised from the consultation process.

On this committee, its investigations and on its final report, lies the hopes of many involved in fisheries in Northern Ireland, who want that asset protected and developed, not to serve the sectional interests of a few but for the greater good of the many. We have had our reports in the past of course. The bins of government are littered with the remains of reports, like the Price Waterhouse, which never saw the light of day, other than in an executive summary form, to hide up the horrors. We have greater hopes and better faith in our present committee.

In conclusion I would say this. Over the period when I was actively involved in campaigning for the better management of fisheries here, I, and those with whom I shared that common goal, developed a reputation for ruthlessness, which in my opinion was used very effectively by those in power, not only to tarnish our reputations but also to call into question by that method, the facts which, with a struggle at times, we placed in the public domain. I have to say to you now, that I thought very carefully before embarking on that route, with all its dangers of eventual bitterness and recrimination. To be honest with you, in my opinion and from a person viewpoint, public accountability was restored just in time and in light of what you will read, I remain to be judged.


6 June 2000

I was talking to some friends recently about some of the matters which were in the report I sent you earlier and they mentioned that you might need a more detailed appraisal of some of those matters. The report was of necessity vague on some points and in this correspondence I intend to update you on many of the issues which were lurking in the background of that earlier report. I will also avail you of the names, which were missing from the confidential section of that report. At this stage of the game Member it will not make much difference. Those involved know we are going to see this one through to the bitter end and in my opinion it is only the influence of some established political figures in Northern Ireland which is presently saved them in the past in my opinion.. The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of the House of Commons are pretty well updated with most of the information which you are about to read, in a general sense and of course hid the whole thing up, which make me wonder where some of the members look when it comes to political funding. I write this in the expectation that committee members will study it carefully and with my blessing. I am still waiting patiently for the restoration of public accountability, not that we ever had it under the previous regimes and am at a point in my life where I am on the verge of deciding that I have waited long enough. When you read this you may understand why.

I sometimes wonder how I got into this game Member and more ominously what drives me on. I have no political aspirations, for politics generally even in the most liberal of democracies is a rotten game, as you and your colleague are presently finding out. Quite apart from my interest in angling and the environment, I have a curiosity of and detestation for corruption which is endemic in Northern Ireland, rooted at every level of society. I suppose that, above all other concerns, drives me on and I am sure you are well aware by now that no self respecting assembly member would be foolish enough to accept a ministerial appointment at the present time, after thirty years when the Northern Mafia in the N.I.O. department have had free reign.

I was born in the Protestant tradition member. In Northern Ireland you are better getting the silly things, which tend to cloud our vision, out of the way early. Not that I have any firm religious convictions, preferring to be content with the fact that I am here now and one day I will not, which tends to concentrate the mind somewhat on everyday events. Perhaps a sort of humanitarian outlook would best describe my philosophy.

I am a bit hazy about some dates in this saga. If I was more meticulous, which would break the flow of this dialogue, I could give you everything in chronological order. The timescale of what you will read is pretty near exact I would imagine however and is a sorry tale in most respects. What you read earlier is also in the possession of the other 108 assembly members. We were of the opinion that if a citizen receives a mandate from the people they have a right to know what type of kingdom, or fiefdom in this case, they are inheriting. Danny and I lugged it up the steps to Stormont in boxes. I'm sure Carson shivered on his statue. As we drove out Danny, in a fit of exuberance, remarked. "do you see that line of trees Harry?. I have a candidate for every one of them".

I was elected honorary secretary of the Lough Neagh and Maine System Game Anglers Association in January 1993 at the annual general meeting of that association having previously served on the committee of the Gracehill Galgorm and District, one of the many angling clubs on our mighty river Maine. The association had been born about three years earlier in an effort to lobby for better management of rivers and fisheries in Northern Ireland. Danny Brown set the association up with his own money and I am proud to say member that what we could spare and some which we couldn't, since it was broken up by the Department of Agriculture and the Ulster Angling Federation, kept this fight going until the day when you walked through the doors to Stormont. It was a long battle but worth every penny. Danny and I have a heavy investment in you member and your 107 colleagues.

Frank Quigley editor of Angling Ireland presided over the elections on that fateful night in 1993. The previous secretary did not want to stand as he had family commitments and there was a dearth of proposals from those representing the clubs on the river Maine. I have to say now member that everyone of those present was well aware of the lamentable state of fisheries in Northern Ireland and the reason for their condition but no one wanted to put their head in the firing line.

The options were limited. The association would fold without a secretary. Of course Danny would survive for a while but the boys up above would eventually stitch him up as they have done with so many in the past thirty years. I got the job member, although the prospects for upward mobility were meagre to say the least. When I looked at the accounts I knew the battle that was ahead. The affiliation fees for the clubs on the river Maine, some of which were also in the Ulster Angling Federation which undermined us at every turn, were naturally low. There wasn't a lot for lobbying. In the two years until they stitched us up most of the money came out of our own pockets. Phone bills of £200 a quarter take some explaining to your better half especially with a daughter at university. The fact that I am able to write to you today has less to do with my stubbornness and more to do with Catherine's patience. You see ... Danny's marriage broke up two years ago. A woman's patience only stretches so far in some instances. Danny and I stretched that patience to the limit and my friend paid the price.

Not long after the annual general meeting and my election as secretary of our association, Frank, Danny and I had a meeting in my home to plan a strategy which, if luck was on our side, would hopefully spell the end of one of the most corrupt eras in the history of fisheries in Northern Ireland. You see we well knew that was going on down on our river Maine was prevalent on other rivers in Northern Ireland. The D.O.E. was wrecking the river with lethal discharges from sewage and water treatment works. The industrial polluters were having a field day. Many of them were operating without consents to discharge because the toxicity of their discharges meant that they could not live within the constraints of any consent and most of them had markers to call in on government departments in the N.I.O. The trout farmers and other abstractors of water were "lobbying" the rotten D.A.N.I. for exemptions under sections of the Fishery Act excluding them from the obligations of section 58 of the Act compelling them to fit screens to protect juvenile salmon and trout from being drawn into intakes. Screens cut down water flows and profitability. It was a rotten one member and all hidden up by the Ulster Angling Federation. We knew we would have to fight and then the pressure would come on. Time was the most important factor in the equation. We little realised then that the political scene would change and light would appear at the end of the tunnel. In those days it was all about what time we would have to create an impact, difficult in N.I., before we rocked the boat too hard and they closed the show down.

Frank reckoned that if we were lucky we might get two years. He was right almost to the day. It was against this background member that the greatest threat to what remained of Northern Ireland's fisheries appeared in the form of the Non Fossil Fuel Order in Council and the expectation of generating electricity on Ulster's drainage damaged rivers. I never had any problem with the concept of renewable energy, although with reasonable exploitation in all its forms we were looking at a meagre 8 percent of our supply coming in this fashion, which is hardly going to save the planet. Despite all the fine pronouncements at the Rio convention on climate change mankind is left with difficult choices in respect of greenhouse gases and the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity. In any relatively industrialised society you either continue to exploit hydrocarbons or go down the road of nuclear power. The French took that decision years ago when they were exploiting nuclear weapons technology and now export the spent fuel rods to Sellafield and its plutonium to the Irish sea. The sad fact is that even exploiting wind farming, which has the best potential, to its maximum where everywhere in Ireland you had to duck to avoid the blades, you would be looking at around 40 percent ... and then you have the problem of when the wind doesn't blow. That's the background member. Renewable energy allows us to live in suburbia with reasonable consciences and sanctions rotten governments to face the electorate with a sort of green image. There is no answer to greenhouse gas emissions until maybe around the year 2080 when the containment problem associated with the stellar temperatures involved in nuclear fusion will perhaps be solved and by that time the cumulative effect of all the emissions since the industrial revolution will decide one way or the other whether homo sapiens has a privileged position on planet earth. I was always of the opinion that he had no guarantees in that respect.

The first we knew about the British commitment to renewable energy generation came in 1993, although the Ulster Angling Federation knew in 1992, when an application appeared in our local newspaper to the effect that a developer had applied for planning permission for a hydro-electric plant at Cullybackey on our river Maine which proposed to generate 200Kw of electricity, which would supply the needs of about 40 homes in a wet season, if there were no teenagers in. The proposal was in the name of Chemvite and was quickly followed by another in close proximity from Frazer and Haughten, a local dyeing company.

There were massive problems with any concept of generating electricity on Northern Ireland's rivers which the mandarins in the NIO departments were well aware of and had hidden up over the years in their protection of corrupt empires. It came down to this member. Just like the trout farmers who also drew water off to their official farms [I'll come to the unofficial ones later], those who used water for motive power were in an unique position world wide in respect of measures to protect fisheries [this is Northern Ireland!], in that there was no established legislation to control the amount of water which could be abstracted. Basically they could abstract up to 85 percent of river flows and still not fall foul of any legislation. That fact was important for any financial exploitation of this particular field. It was a gold mine here. Other countries, with historic experience of the damage weak water abstraction legislation could do to fisheries when this field was exploited, had acted to introduce laws to limit it and had sound field studies, which the bastards up above were well aware of before they embarked on this rotten enterprise, of the ruin facing trout and salmon fisheries in the absence of that legislation. We had lobbied long member to introduce those laws but were always obstructed by the powerful trout farming lobby on the Fishery Conservancy Board which the rotten D.A.N.I.appoints and had the department in its back pocket, a fact which I will come to later. I think you are beginning to see why properly developed angling tourism is worth 80 million pounds and around 100,000 jobs to the Southern economy and up here we provide the tourists.

Basically it amounts to this. If an abstractor of water is drawing 85 percent of the river at a weir and returning it downstream, how do the returning salmon make their way upstream to the weir when the whole river is coming out of the tailrace. It can't be done member and they always knew it up above. Money was everything however for them and the boy's club. There was little concept of developing fisheries for the common good. Of course if you were luck enough to have fishing rights behind the weir, where the salmon were trapped, those rights were worth a king's ransom. A fact the privileged, with help from the scum up above, have always been aware of.

It was against this background that the Department of Economic Development, the rotten D.A.N.I., the D.O.E., and a supplier of generating equipment began an assault on what was left of Northern Ireland's salmon fisheries.

Those two early proposals in the Non Fossil Fuel Order 1 were a real tester for us member. We were having trouble on two fronts. It was difficult for our association in that two of the clubs on the river Maine were also solidly in the Ulster Angling Federation and the Development Officer of that federation, Newell McCreight, who later received a salary from the rotten D.A.N.I., was always working behind the scenes trying to undermine our support. You see the government departments in the N.I.O. and particularly the D.A.N.I. only ever recognised the Ulster Angling Federation, funded through the House of Sport, as the legitimate body capable of representing angling opinion in N.I. When we opposed those two early hydro-electric applications McCreight re-doubled his efforts to take the angling clubs away from us. Still we lodged an application to the proposal by Chemvite for a hydro-electric plant at Cullybackey on the river Maine and were eventually invited to a meeting in County Hall Ballymena to "sort out" the problems between the developer, the Fishery Conservancy Board for N.I., the rotten D.A.N.I .and ourselves.

It was an uneasy meeting member. You know that feeling when you are not wanted. Danny and I had all the research which had just arrived from America at our own expense and was conclusive, in the situation of the lack of those water abstraction laws. We presented our case which was greeted with silence. Then William Smith, chief executive of the Fishery Conservancy Board for N.I. spoke up and condemned the proposal. He is no better than the rest of the scum but knew Danny and I would not lie down to them and had decided to hedge his bets. We subsequently found out that he had warned the rotten D.A.N.I. not to take us on.

The subject of a screen came up member and this is important for if you are astute, and game enough, this is the one that will hang them and is mentioned in the earlier report which I sent you. It is a requirement of the Fisheries Act for N.I. that in the months when juvenile salmon are migrating downstream, March, April and May and significantly, for the migration can spread over a longer period, at any other time when they are in the river, all those drawing water must fit screens to prevent those juveniles being drawn into intakes. The legislators in those early days had recognised that there was the potential to wipe out salmon populations if protection of this kind was not in force, although around 20 percent of juveniles are damaged by being pressed against the screens. As always there were lobbyists around in those days and an exemption was included in the act to limit the financial damage from reduction to flows.

That exemption enabled the rotten D.A.N.I. to excuse water abstractors from the terms of the Act and the financially restricting effect of screens if they could prove that "suitable alternative measures were in place". Those terms have been used well over the years and not just on the Maine, to hide a multitude of sins and damage a lot of fisheries as I mentioned in the earlier report. It works a bit like this member. A Fishery Conservancy Board bailiff would examine establishments in the important months to see if they were fitted with screens. If none were in place the bailiff would enquire if the owner had an exemption and if the certificate was forthcoming would, for fear of his job at the board, discreetly look the other way. The bailiff on the river Maine was made of sterner stuff however and when he visited the premises of a Mr William Baird M.B.E., member of the Fishery Conservancy Board for NI and procurer of commercial fish from an illegal fish farm with assistance from the rotten DANI and found it unprotected in respect of screens and Mr Baird MBE, in possession of a rotten exemption from the equally rotten D.A.N.I.he notified the board to prosecute. Despite the pressure from the Northern Mafia William Owens succeeded in effecting the prosecution and Baird had to resign from the board but the rotten D.A.N.I. appointed his business partner to the board in his place to protect his empire. Still it was gallant of William Owens member. They would hang him out to dry for it if it wasn't for his files, which I have seen and which will put them away. You understand about screens now members .. screens are important .. but they can always write an exemption.

Danny and I mentioned the screens at the Chemvite planning meeting, knowing full well what I have already told you. There was silence member, as if Pandora's box had been opened. A Mr Reford, described by many for want of a better word, as a Deputy Chief Fishery Officer, eventually grunted ... "there would need to be a screen". Remember that name member and particularly when you study the transportation license and the photographs which are enclosed. The only reason his ass is still on a seat in the Fishery Division of the rotten D.A.N.I. is because if he goes, the rest of them go .. and he has markers on them. The developer eventually drew out a plank on a piece of paper and threw it across the table with a grin. The meeting then sort of broke up as if everyone had run out of energy and had decided to abandon the war to another day but not before the developer was overheard to say to Reford at the door .. "should we have offered the fry then", to which Reford replied .. "not just yet".

There is a mistaken belief among anglers in Northern Ireland, perpetuated by those with influence in the Ulster Angling Federation and the rotten D.A.N.I. that where damage, from whatever source, occurs to fisheries it can be remedied by the introduction of fry [young salmon or trout] from a hatchery. More fry have gone into rivers in Northern Ireland over the years than into rivers world wide and a fat lot of good it did us, but those running the hatcheries have made a profit. It's a sort of unholy and lucrative vicious circle where a stretch of river gets polluted, the polluter gets a nominal fine, if he hasn't markers with a government department to offset against the prosecution, and the fry go in to fool the angler. Mr Reford was shrewd in his remark to the developer. He knew Danny and I were unlikely to be fooled by that approach and other methods would have to be employed, which I will come to later.

When I got home I started to think about the Chemvite company and persuaded Danny to pay a visit to company house. Chemvite was a subsidiary of a large English Chemical company and the accounts, which also showed N.I. directors, one called Wilson who might be connected with a political party, was operating a loss in N.I., proven by the fact that at the end of the accounts statement was this sentence .. "charge all book debts to the Northern Bank". The other matter of note was that in follow up investigations it transpired that Chemvite, apart from its other supplies to companies in N.I. also supplied aluminium sulphate. Now member .. think! Who is the major user of aluminium sulphate in N.I. .. the boys at the D.O.E. Water Executive in the sewage and water treatment plants, from which as a matter of interest they have polluted most of Northern Ireland's rivers with residual aluminium [all well hidden up of course.]

Now you don't get a chance like that very often and I took the bull by the horns in telephoning the business section of the Northern Bank. I remarked to a worried official that there was bad publicity coming in the way of a corrupt application for a hydro-electric plant in the name of a company which was sort of .. in hoc to his bank [losses like that are manipulated in N.I. you know member, costing the taxpayer a fortune and lining the pockets of those with the markers]. In a tense conversation the official gently probed along the lines of "how much did I know" ... to which I replied .. "everything". That was the last we heard of the Chemvite application but unfortunately the Frazer and Haughten application was approved at the same time. You can't do everything member.

We knew by this time that other applications were in the pipeline and that the Maine was being singled out probably to get rid of the opposition early. In late 1993 an application appeared in a local newspaper to the effect that a hydro-electric proposal had been lodged with planning for a major operation at Randalstown on the river Maine just before our river pours into Lough Neagh. The developer a Mr Antony O'Neill intended to install a turbine at the site of the former Old Bleach Spinning mill and generate 400Kw of electricity. This was the one Danny and I had been dreading. When the mill had been operating in the past it had wrecked the Maine by taking too much water. The staff used to hang a sign on the back door .. "Gone fishing" and would net the tailrace exit, taking hauls of salmon in the process. Now the horror was back.

I was getting suspicious by this time member. I knew the form in the government departments and realised that with a field like hydro-electricity being exploited without effective fishery protection laws or clean agencies to enforce what was in place ... there must be a Mr Big around. That proved to be the case and our attentions turned to a Mr T Maguire, turbine manufacturer of New Mills Hydro, Carrickfergus. Back to Company House to get a peep at his accounts. There were actually two companies as I suspected. The original company New Mills Hydro had been wound up with debts in 1989 [tipped off by the boys] just before the Non Fossil Fuel Order 1 got the assent. Ask for that Order in Council member and look at the signature on it ... Douglas B McIldoon. Remember the name member. Two new companies had been set up at around the same time, New Mills Hydro LTD and New Mills Hydro Generation Limited. Look at the confidential proposals for the Non Fossil Fuel Order 2 which I sent you in the last report. Are you beginning to get the picture? In the winding up of the original company and the setting up of the other two Maguire was tooling up for the job. He was in for a killing. He had been reluctant to show his hand in the Non Fossil Fuel Order 1 until the government departments had the opposition crushed but had been busy behind the scenes. Danny and I had spies working and supplying useful information. An agent had been scouring the country offering sky high prices for old and presumably redundant water rights if there were no questions asked and the job could be done quietly. I'm sure you realise who the agent was working for.

Danny and I knew that Randalstown was going to be a monumental battle from which we and the Lough Neagh and Maine System Game Angling Association would be lucky to emerge.

Danny and I lodged our formal objection to the Randalstown proposal and the Association came under pressure immediately. McCreight, development officer of the Ulster Angling Federation, had always been active on the river Maine working as he was for the D.A.N.I., trying to get the clubs affiliated to our association to join the Federation. It was now ceaseless, unrelenting pressure. Even at our monthly meeting every word we uttered was taken to McCreight and was up in the D.A.N.I. before we got home. It got to the stage where we wondered who we could trust and had to limit the amount of information we gave out at our meetings, which for democrats is a tragedy.

We were invited, as before, in November 1994 to a meeting called by the Planning Service in County Hall Ballymena to discuss the Randalstown application. I had still not received an environmental impact statement for the proposal from the D.O.E. who kept insisting that I range Mr Maguire of New Mills Hydro LTD who was supplying them. I refused on principle. Eventually after pressure from my M.P. the D.O.E. relented but we had little time to prepare our case.

We were up against it at that planning meeting. The developer had an agent working for him, a Dougal Baillie, hydro-electric consultant of Kelvin, East Kilbride. A friend from one of the environmental engineering companies in N.I. rang to say Maguire had been on pleading for an environmental impact statement for Randalstown and had been turned down. In his words .. "Randalstown was a horrifying application from a fishery point of view and Maguire had a reputation for not paying his bills". I actually searched for Baillie's offices in Kelvin and couldn't find them.

Danny and I outlined at the meeting all the reasons why the Randalstown application should not go ahead and were supported by William Smyth of the Fishery Conservancy Board for N.I. who condemned the scheme. At this point the developer punched Maguire's agent Dougal Baillie for not responding to the points we were making. Then a tasty bit of information came across the table from the developer to the effect that if there were any further delay in licensing the plant he would sue us for the generating losses. I looked at the chief planning officer of the D.O.E. who at this point went bright red and avoided my eyes. He knew what I had just found out, that the developer Antony O'Neil already had his contract signed with N.I.E. and authorised by the Department of Economic Development before he even applied for planning permission.

I challenged Mr Reford, deputy chief fishery officer of the D.A.N.I. to join with the Fishery Conservancy Board for N.I. and ourselves in opposition to the development. Reford who was sitting across the table with the developer and his agent, replied with a grin that he had no remit to oppose, which was a lie member. The meeting broke up with the problems unresolved and then we made a mistake. You get tired and angry in a situation like that and a sense of isolation begins to creep in. When we returned home Danny, in a rage, faxed a letter to Baroness Denton to inquire if her Fishery Division had declared its hydro-electric consultancy fees for taxation purposes. The response of course was, when she had recovered from the shock [it was the truth as you will find out later] a restriction was placed on information going out to us and for two months it was back to going through MPs offices which is time consuming and time was not on our side.

Just before the inevitable approval of the Randalstown I got a telephone call from Brian Black of U.T.V. to say that he would like to do some interviews on the subject of hydro-electric power for Ulster Television News and invited me to the Randalstown site on that morning. I took the call in bed where I had been for some days in January 1994 with the flu but dug myself out as chances like that don't come along too often. Brian has always given Danny and me a fair whack in respect of airtime.

Frank of Angling Ireland went along too and we met William Smith, Chief Executive of the Fishery Conservancy Board for N.I. at the bridge in Randalstown. It was then that he hit me with a bombshell. "I think the Department's bought Harry .... there is little to be done now." That news put me in an even poorer frame of mind for the interview irrespective of my physical condition.

William had expected the developer Antony O'Neil to be there but I knew the big boy would turn up .. after all the empire he had so carefully prepared for in the previous few years was under threat. That proved to be the case and after ten minutes up comes a range rover and out hops Maguire.

Maguire's a big bruiser member. A big brusque arrogant man who is used to getting his way. He shook my hand and I felt my fingers for broken bones. "You'll not stop this Harry .. everything is seen to", he said, adding with a wink that there was plenty of money to be made in this field. Maguire had just elected himself chairman of the Northern Ireland Society of Renewable Energy Producers and no-one knows who the other members are.

I kept my temper member because I needed information and eventually it came. Maguire announced proudly .. "We are getting 6.25P/Kw." Now member that was the very information I had spent almost a year trying to prise out of the Energy Policy Division of the Department of Economic Development without success. We all make mistakes and Danny and I have made them but others make them too. That figure was important and I will return to it later.

We got the interviews out of the way and I put up a good case, well supported by William Smith of the Fishery Conservancy Board for N.I. although a lot of good it did us for as you know the developer already had his contract a year previously. Think of all the public money wasted at planning meetings for all those hydro-electric plants and the developers sitting grinning with their contracts signed with N.I.E. and already in their back pocket. How do you persuade the young, like my daughter about to graduate from University, to return to Northern Ireland and use their talents to build a better future for all of us and this rottenness at every level of society?

What we didn't know all the time on that morning was that a further act of treachery was to take place that afternoon, which is when the second interviews took place, with Newell McCreight, development officer of the Ulster Angling Federation and Maguire. All of the interviews went out that evening. McCreight made a blundering appearance and threw in facts which were irrelevant and obviously not based on sound scientific fact which immediately let Maguire in with his own counter argument. Many anglers who watched it on television rang me to allege that it was a fix.

What happened later that evening convinced me, if I ever needed convincing, that this was a rotten game. Brian Black rang me with this news. After the afternoon interviews he went with Maguire and McCreight to a local restaurant for a bite. It was then Maguire came out with this statement, with McCreight making a great show of almost falling off the chair in surprise. He said that the Randalstown plant could still be stopped if the lobbying ceased. You can imagine the power of the man when after all that had gone by he could still stop the proposal. A rotten deal had been stitched up with the government departments to try and get Danny and me off their backs. Brian also added during the telephone conversation that "this was a bad one and he wanted no more of it". I knew then that we were getting to them but stark choices still had to be made.

We thought long that evening member before we decided whether to take the offer and Danny and I burned the midnight oil. If we accepted the terms the worst application, Randalstown, would disappear and our salmon would have unhindered passage through our river system. There would be damage from the plant already licensed and there was the danger of more on the Maine as you can see from the proposals in the confidential document N.F.F.O.2 in the earlier report but perhaps we could live with some of the damage. If nothing else we would have breathing space to recharge our batteries and the association would perhaps survive which was important for us, as it was the only means to get word about corruption into the public domain. The other side of the equation was horrifying however. If we stopped the lobbying then Maguire and the departments would have a free hand and the other rivers in N.I. would go down the tubes. We refused.

The picture was beginning to become clearer by this time however due to that disclosure by Maguire at the meeting about the 6.25 P/KW. Now the conventional generating plants were making handsome profits at that particular time supplying N.I.E. at around 3 P/KW and on long term fixed contracts. The privatisation of the electricity supply industry was just as corrupt as this particular game. Those in the D.E.D. who decided on the contract prices need their bank accounts examined. You could argue that renewable energy needed a little stimulation but that figure was beyond any normal priming. You can imagine if the wind farm developers, or the companies on the mainland pulling their strings, are getting the same figure .. the fortunes which are being made.

The reason for that figure became clearer when I looked at the technical information for the turbine which was being installed at Randalstown. The turbine was a low head called a Kaplan. Low head turbines are a misnomer in any case. Hydro-electric power only works efficiently at high head pressure such as a high walled dam with enormous pressure at the base. Low heads work at the gentle flows at weirs on rivers and the amount of electricity to be generated is minimal to say the least. The hydro-electric portion of the N.F.F.O. was designed to give Maguire a bite at the cherry but more importantly sell generating equipment. Investigations turned up the fact that Maguire had bought the license for the Kaplan from a Swiss engineer called Lindquist but significantly the turbine never received a license for use in America. I began to doubt the marvellous efficiency rating of the Kaplan which was being touted around by the D.E.D. and Maguire.

I did some calculations based on the 400 K/w rating for the Randalstown Kaplan and Danny obtained by deceit ten years of flow measurements from the D.o.E. at their monitoring station in Shanes Castle estate just below the hydro. If they had known the purpose we intended the figures for we would still be waiting on them. From the data I was able to work out that if the hydro was taking 85 percent of the river flow the average generating figure for the mean flows was about 240 Kw which is a long way from the 400Kw figure being touted by the D.E.D. and Maguire. I rang a mole in N.I.E. and asked him about the figures. He said that at the beginning when the D.E.D. was cooking up the game it was decided that the highest figure that the Kaplan could make on maximum flows would be used in preparing the tenders and the planning applications which is how they fooled the ministers at the time that there was any realistic amount of electricity to be obtained and the unfortunate developer Mr Antony O'Neil at Randalstown who after generating for a few weeks began to suspect what we knew already and installed his own flow measurement device which a gang destroyed in a midnight raid, an event which was remarkably well covered up, for the R.U.C. might have asked me to make a statement and I would have hinted as to the premises from which the raid was mounted.

One other interesting fact about the Kaplan is this and is perhaps why the turbine was never licensed in America. A marine thruster tug engine, mounted in reverse, will deliver 400Kw which is what the D.E.D. and Maguire allege can be obtained from the Kaplan at Randalstown and costs around 200,000 dollars, significantly less than the Kaplan and its associated equipment. Mr O'Neil, the developer at Randalstown, in a remarkable outburst to a local angler said ... "that bastard stung me for a million and I didn't even get a Christmas card". Mr O'Neil is finding out now what we knew already that this field was exploited primarily to sell generating equipment and has candidly admitted that he was "stung". You see the importance of that 6.25 P/Kw figure now member. It was to pay the inflated price for the Kaplan and try to keep the developers solvent in the absence of necessary flows on our rivers. Unfortunately Mr O'Neill has had to damage the river Maine fishery to try to pay off debt. As you can see from the photograph the whole river has been diverted through the plant as we predicted. The electrical field which is supposed to prevent returning salmon from running up into the blades is broken and repeated infringements of what weak fishery legislation is in place has been a feature of the plant's operation .. no prosecutions member!

The 6.25 P/Kw figure was not going to produce many millionaires among the private developers but was enough to build a financial empire for Maguire and his supporters, wherever they came from, in that what was in some instances just enough to allow those private developers to pay the inflated turbine price with the help of the D.E.D. grants and make a bit of a profit if they went to the lengths of badly damaging fisheries, which they could do with impunity, was a much more healthy position for Maguire with his ultimate designs in the generation field, which you can see in N.F.F.O.2. You have to remember that Maguire is charging the developers three times the manufacturing cost of the Kaplan but when he began generating himself he was installing it as cost price and where a private developer might require perhaps half of his 20 year N.F.F.O. contract to reach the break even point, Maguire would be in profit in about two. Clever member .. Very clever! and all paid for by the taxpayer and the electricity consumer. I remember a gentleman telling me early in this game that his secretary had attended a slap up seminar organised by the D.E.D. to introduce the renewable field. The door jams were practically taken off by prospective hydro-electric developers from the mainland lured by weak fishery legislation and a sound record of turning a blind eye towards illegality by the N.I.O. departments. All home on the next flight member. They learned what we know now .... that Maguire had the field sewn up.

Just after Randalstown was licensed Frank, the editor of Angling Ireland, gave me the opportunity to present my case against the hydro-electric assault in its present form on N.I. rivers. I prepared a two-page article, well researched, which was duly printed. Maguire was bouncing and rang Frank more or less demanding that he come over to the plant in Carrickfergus. Frank obliged and a heated argument took place. Maguire asked what type of person I was [could I be bought?] to which Frank replied "very determined", which discouraged any further probing along those lines. Maguire then tried a different tact which no doubt he and the rotten departments had hinted at earlier as an ultimate sanction against the Ulster Angling Federation if it tried to rock the boat, not that there was any danger of that. Maguire said that with the amount of money sloshing about in this field it would be a simple matter to buy out fishing rights ... "and then boys where will you fish?" The argument got really heated then. Frank would be a tough one, you have to be in this game, and wasn't going to lie down to the bulldog Maguire ... or his henchmen in the government departments.

Maguire got himself into a state and with his kidneys working overtime excused himself for a pee. Now member when would you ever get an opportunity like that. In about ten seconds Frank was in Maguire's filing cabinet. It was a revelation member. It was full of photocopied documents from the rotten D.A.N.I. It had been feeding Maguire with the goods; the very department entrusted by parliament to protect our rivers in the first place. There were D.A.N.I. files on flow rates, ground strata and other data for every river in Northern Ireland and significantly some in the south of Ireland. Everything was there member to enable Maguire and his hydro-electric "consultant" Dougall Baillie to sit over in Carrickfergus and prepare tender bids for N.I.E. and planning applications. The individual developers were only pawns in the game. The whole thing was stitched up as William Smith had hinted and I had always suspected.

Of course I had to table questions in the house and eventually the reply was written in Hansard that the D.A.N.I. had indeed supplied technical information to a hydro-electric consultant but it was unknown whether that information was used for tender purposes. What do you think member?. Danny and Frank headed south that weekend to tip off the angling associations there about the threat and Frank had a meeting with the Minister for Power Mr Stagg. When he found out what was going on he put an end to their designs which I believe left Mr Maguire with the financial embarrassment of some recently acquired water rights which he had purchased through the same agent who was working for him up here.

In 1995 I had a regular column in Angling Ireland in the form at that time of a play called Whoops Minister based on a fictional land called Guano [N.I]. It was loosely based along the lines of what you are reading with no names mentioned but they couldn't take it up above and began plotting our downfall. Circulation figures for the magazine picked up dramatically however. Danny took one particularly vicious edition up and slung it in to Douggie in the Regulator's office.

Danny and I have many supporters among those who campaign for rivers and the environment and some of them bring us information on the meetings of the Ulster Angling Federation of which there are usually three on the same evening, two of which are between the old trusties and D.A.N.I. before and after the main meeting, to keep an eye for trouble makers who might rock the boat. At one of those meetings the Development Officer McCreight was overheard to say "those two bastards down on the Maine have a shock coming", so we were ready.

In 1995 the D.A.N.I. announced a "Salmonid Enhancement Plan" which was described as an attempt to do something about the state of rivers and the public angling estate and if you believe that member .. you'll believe anything. We knew something along those lines was on the way as the pressure was mounting on the rotten D.A.N.I. and its main manipulated support, the Ulster Angling Federation. Frank had a mole at that time in the D.A.N.I. and got a call to say, "They're burning the midnight oil up here trying to think of a way of saving their skins".

The D.A.N.I. had managed to secure, at the last moment, around two million pounds from an obscure sub measure of the Peace and Reconciliation settlement which covered water sports and recreation. The jet skiers and dingy owners were going to lose out. William Smith, Chief Executive of the Fishery Board, rang to say that the bastards in the D.A.N.I. were undecided as to whether to give all the money to the F.C.B. and let them do some work on the rivers. Imagine member, this money was supposed to promote cross cultural tolerance and understanding and the Northern Mafia had got its hands on it. Smith was worried. You see member the Board is as corrupt as the department and we have the goods on it. It would be risky taking the money and if the D.A.N.I. took it there would be questions asked if it was being used to buy political favours. Very dodgy. I thought for a few minutes and then told Smith that in my opinion the Board would be far better not taking the money. Smith usually takes my advice on that sort of matter, after all he wants to survive and the Board has many crimes and just as many criminals to hide. I well knew then that an unparalleled opportunity had arisen. I knew the D.A.N.I. could not resist the opportunity to get rid of Danny and me and line the pockets of their mates at the same time. That line of trees to Carson's statue is going to be tenanted shortly and the Peace and Reconciliation money provided the rope.

I suspected that the Maine river would be the first target for the money, after all the main purpose of its securance was to get rid of Danny and me and quieten the dissent that was growing over the hydro-electric conspiracy. That proved to be the case and in 1995 an angler on the river Maine in one of our affiliated clubs clubs telephoned to say that the D.A.N.I. and the Ulster Angling Federation had arranged a meeting in the Country House hotel in Kells to introduce the Salmonid Enhancement Scheme to the river Maine. As you would expect member the chairman and secretary of the association representing most of the clubs on the river Maine were not invited.

Danny and I were not going to give up without a fight member and on the evening of the meeting went along to the hotel to the horror of the D.A.N.I. The angler who had rung me, had mentioned that he had heard that the Federation had arranged plants to help the D.A.N.I. if we turned up and asked awkward questions so we were well prepared. The D.A.N.I. was further hassled when the editor of Angling Ireland walked in. He had the goods on them this time and had been doing some investigating.

The meeting started and the D.A.N.I. seated itself at the top table with "friendly" anglers and the Ulster Angling Federation on their knees in the front row. The D.A.N.I. began to outline the scheme. Two million pounds had been secured and individual clubs or partnerships would be illegible to submit projects for fishery development which would be scrutinised by the D.A.N.I. and the two paid facilitators Mr Alan Keys, M.B.E. and Mr Newell McCreight, directors of the Ulster Angling Federation, who were to be salaried out of the fund despite their lack of qualifications in fishery matters. At this stage I think I should introduce Mr Keys. Mr Keys, M.B.E. is the main force behind the Ballinderry River Enhancement Association. He runs a hatchery on that river which rears dollaghan trout fry from Lough Neagh trout and sells them to angling clubs bringing in some good publicity for the D.A.N.I. in spite of the fact that there are 175 trout netting licenses authorised for Lough Neagh continually threatening to bring this unique trout to the verge of extinction. The D.A.N.I. set Keys up with the money for the hatchery in 1990 and got him his gong. In the early days of the hatchery Danny and I kept him financially, buying trout fry from him, 200,000 in two years for the river Maine and were rewarded with treachery.

The D.A.N.I. said that it would prefer projects from individual clubs [easier to play one off against the other] but would accept an overall application for the river Maine. That was important as individual applications from clubs on the river Maine would have left our association still in charge. At this stage Danny got to his feet and remarked that our association had already made enormous attempts to restore the river Maine but were hampered by the polluters, the hydro-electric plants and other abstractors of water who were ruining the river. He asked if it would not be wiser to clean up the river Maine before spending any more money. At this stage a plant tried to move the business on to other matters. I got to my feet and reminded the department that the hydro-electric plant which it had a rotten hand in licensing was taking all the water and hampering what remained of our returning salmon.

I also remarked that the plant had a generating capacity scarcely enough to power a kettle. "Yes we know," yelled a member of the D.A.N.I. Danny got to his feet again and repeated his earlier questions, which had remained unanswered. The Chief Fishery Officer of D.A.N.I., Mr T Hutley, leapt to his feet and ordered Danny to "sit down and shut up", to the amazement of many of those present. At this stage a plant from the Ulster Angling Federation said, "would it not be better not to be so negative and forge ahead with this splendid opportunity?"

At this point the editor of Angling Ireland, who had agents working for him, got to his feet and asked if any of the money had already been spent. What I can only describe as a collective bowel evacuation seized those present at the table and there was stunned silence. Frank repeated the question and eventually Hutley in a nervous sort of voice admitted that money had been spent, adding that "time was of the essence". That was the most truthful utterance that evening member. Time certainly was of the essence ... some of these guys were looking at between one and five.

Frank then demanded that the D.A.N.I. reveal what purchases it had dipped for. Denile prefabricated fish passes had been purchased. We suspected that they would buy these out of the fund to try to reassure anglers that a means would be found to get salmon around Maguire's hydros when whole rivers were diverted through them. Computers had been bought, They had no computers member for one very good reason .. they had no records to put on them. Some of the fishery division were unaware where our rivers were. All terrain vehicles had been bought to keep their feet clean when they eventually found out where our rivers were. A weed-cutting machine had been bought, which turned out to be the wrong draft for our waters and is rusting in a shed. Now member if you were to ask questions about the tendering process for the purchases and especially the weed cutting machine I believe someone is going to be eating his turkey next year at Elizabeth's expense. At this point an angler behind me got up and left saying "the bastards have their fingers in the pie again".

The department left hurriedly at this stage and one would have thought the meeting was over. One thing you learn in this game member, especially when you are dealing with the Northern Mafia, is that meetings are never over until the last man leaves. For about an hour many feet scuffed holes in the carpet, many eyes surveyed the décor and many lips whistled tunelessly .... but Danny and I stuck it out!

Eventually Keys came over and admitted that there was to be a second meeting and a room upstairs had been booked, probably paid for by the D.A.N.I. which was flush with funds at the time. Danny asked if McCreight would be there and Keys said that he would asking, in the process if that would present a problem ..... Keys was worried about murder. McCreight, development officer of the D.A.N.I. is a former baggage handler at the airport, with a limited knowledge of fishery matters but a better one of how to manipulate power for the D.A.N.I. Our local bailiff detests him as he is always snooping about on the Maine looking for vacant bits of fishing rights which he can snaffle up for clubs on other rivers friendly to the Ulster Angling Federation. That was how the business was done for thirty years, Danny and I were not the first casualties I would imagine. About four years ago our bailiff, William Ownes, attended the Fishery Conservancy Board Christmas booze up. That's the boys' annual do member when they all get drunk, throw their money around for once and slap each other on the back in relief at having seen another year out without being investigated by the serious crimes squad. Danny and I were being discussed of course when our bailiff leaned across the table and said to McCreight .. "sure your aul federation's bought and paid fer and you alang wey it". At this point the Board members, the ones that is who could still maintain an upright position, fell off their chairs in fits of laughter. They knew the statement was true of course but had never heard it expressed so openly before.

We were all herded upstairs to the private room to be told how we would get the money. We sat at the long table and I made sure I was beside McCreight so as Danny wouldn't get to him. Most of the clubs on the Maine were represented. At that time two of them were affiliated to the Ulster Angling Federation although over the years Danny and I had managed to get them join in any of the development work which we had done as an association. The estate manager of Shanes Castle John Beach was also there. It controls the private syndicate water below the hydro-plant and Beach had admitted previously that the estate would get one or two good years out of it as the salmon would be trapped there in the summer.

Keys stood up, splendidly attired in his recently acquired pin stripe. That Peace and Reconciliation funding certainly put the ass on many of their trousers. Before he got a chance to speak Danny said ... "there are some at this table who wouldn't bite the hand that fed them", to nods of approval from some. It was true.

Keys ignored the remark, it was directed at him, licked the point of his pencil and asked for the names of those present before writing them down. I saw him frown at this point and looked straight into his eyes. He knew what I knew member, there wasn't a Seamus or a Patrick or a Brendan or a Martin among the lot of them. We were all Protestants member. You remember the aims of the Peace and Reconciliation Settlement. None of them were being promoted here. We were in the hands of the Mafia.

Keys then spoke officially and said ... "there's a haul o'money coming", which was quite true as he had just set up a second company. The Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Company Ltd., in the expectation of dipping for some of it. He then went on to outline the Salmonid Scheme making a blundering attempt in the process to promote the aims of the Peace and Reconciliation Settlement. Keys went on to say that there would be money for restoration work on the rivers and he would advise about pricing. That was to make sure the fund was ripped off to the maximum extent. Tenders would have to be prepared for that work and .. this is important member, The Watercourse Management Division of the rotten D.A.N.I. should be on the list of tenders. That was to launder the money back into the department. This was the division that destroyed most of our rivers in their drainage schemes in the first place. I tipped the European Office off and that put an end to that particular scheme.

Then we got to the crux of the matter member and the real reason why the evening had been planned. The discussion was manipulated to the question as to what organisation would prepare a project for the river Maine. Richard McDowell, treasurer of The Lough Neagh and Maine System Game Anglers Association spoke up. He said that our association was already in existence, had audited accounts and had already shown over the years its willingness to develop the river Maine for the good of all. I pushed it to a vote and we narrowly won. The Lough Neagh and Maine System Game Anglers Association would prepare a project for the river Maine. At this stage McCreight's legs started to shake below the table. Treachery is never easy member. I had to kick him before he shook the table to pieces. Keys looked over at McCreight and I saw the colour drain from his face. He was going to have to take bad news to the Cosa Nostra after the meeting. Danny Brown and I were still there! The meeting was wound up and a different venue had already been decided for the next one, which would be in the tennis house in the grounds of Shanes Castle Estate in two weeks time.

At this stage member I'd like to fill you in on some little background details of other events which were taking place at around this time which you can for simplicity's sake treat as a space filler up to that fateful next meeting in the tennis house. They are vitally important as they give you a flavour of the history of fisheries in Northern Ireland.

In late 1994 Danny and I were still stocking out those dollaghan fry from Key's hatchery into the cleaner streams on the river Maine. On one particular Saturday we were doing the streams on the upper Maine in the territory of one of the clubs affiliated to the Ulster Angling Federation. Stocking out fry in the streams is good fun member. You arrange points where the fry are kept in a big tank, everyone is assigned a particular stretch and then you fill a bucket with water and take about a thousand with you and dribble them in a few at a time. On that day the club members in that particular territory had picked stretches for everyone and we started out. When I got to the end of my stretch in the late afternoon I had still about 80 to a hundred fry left and went on further down than I should have so as not to waste them. I noticed that the stream was spilling out over its edges although there had been no overnight rain.

That night I mentioned the fact to Danny and the local bailiff William Owens who went to the area for a look. He discovered the site, which is in the photographs, which you now have and kept it under surveillance. The pond which was full of commercial rainbow trout was completely blocking the stream. Those little trout fry, which should eventually migrate to Lough Neagh were completely imprisoned. Our efforts on the day were in vain and the club in whose territory the pond was and which is affiliated to the Ulster Angling Federation knew all about it having surveyed the stream for pollution before it was stocked out.

Eventually the bailiff struck gold in the form of Mr William Baird, M.B.E., of Otterburn Trout Farm, Randalstown and executive member of the Fishery Conservancy Board for N.I. who arrived at the site with his transporter to collect the fish. Our courageous bailiff William Owens challenged Baird and Kerr who owned the site to produce culture licenses for the site and consents under the Water Act which they admitted they had not got. Mr Baird then said he could "fix everything up with the D.A.N.I.". William Owens then read them their rights and asked Mr Baird to sign the statement he had just made, which he grudgingly did. Although Mr Baird, M.B.E. had failed to fix Mr Kerr up with many of the legal documents for the site he had one very important one.

That document was a transportation license. It was always very easy for the rotten D.A.N.I. to hide up operations like these. It had the right ones in the Ulster Federation bought. The one possible flaw in the plan was an accident on the road with the transporter when the fish were either being taken to the site or removed. The first thing the R.U.C. would ask for was a transportation license and if one was not forthcoming investigations might begin. Mr Reford, deputy chief fishery officer of the D.A.N.I. provided the necessary license for Baird as you can see from the license which I have provided!

William Owens went in during early morning light with a pole and sprung the gin traps around the pond to allow me to go in later that day and take the photographs which you have member. They are rather poor in quality but you can see the basics. I am no more courageous than any other individual and my heart thumped so much I had to steady the camera on a fence post.

Unfortunately I made a bad mistake Member which prompted Baird oddly enough on the same day to take his transporter up to clear the site and by an act of providence got him caught. I was still on sort of half speaking terms at this stage with Keys and during a telephone conversation, for he was always picking my brains about fishery matters about which he knew little [he was a chicken farmer] I mentioned the pond and asked him if he had any in his region to which after a long silence he replied ... "yea we have them too" .. I wonder if he was speaking personally. I believe he rang the D.A.N.I. Two weeks later an advertisement appeared in the Ballymena Guardian from the rotten D.A.N.I. to the effect that it had received an application for an official fish farm at the site. Danny and I lodged official objections of course but Baird put the pressure on and the necessary licenses were forthcoming. We had some inside information fortunately that the D.A.N.I. were prepared to back date the culture licenses e.t.c. to cover the date on the transportation license written by Reford but the Environment and Heritage Agency would not take the chance. Ramsey knew Danny and I would hang him for it. It was bad enough giving consent under the Water Act for that stinking hole in the ground but backdating it was an enormous risk. As you can see Member the illegal establishment eventually received its consent under the Water Act in 1996 .... two years after Reford was authorising transportation of fish to the then illegal site. Just imagine Member .... a man like that with his dirty hands on Peace and Reconciliation money.

Danny tabled questions in the house as to how many fattening ponds for commercial rainbow trout existed in Northern Ireland and back came a reply from Ancram to the effect that there were 104 and that all of them should have the necessary licenses. The last part of that statement is important Member because Ancram was aware of what was going on, went to the senior officials in the D.A.N.I. before he put his head on the block and asked questions along the following lines.

"Right you bastards how many of these bloody things are there ... out with it and I want the truth this time before I offer myself up for slaughter in the house" Of course Member they had to tell the truth this time and it is ... 104. The second question was "how many of them have licenses". Again Member the answer which he extracted from the them was .... none, which is the reason Ancram added the last part to the statement fearing that to be the next question coming his way. Frank exposed the whole thing in Angling Ireland to the horror of the readership which had been kept in the dark by the Ulster Angling Federation. It took guts to do that. He was really in the firing line then. He also said in that editorial that he had contacted Mr William Smith at the Fishery Conservancy Board who confirmed that he knew nothing about these sites, which his bailiffs should have been checking. He did admit to me however, that he knew about the one on the Maine. I believe it was him got Baird his M.B.E.

I tried to make an estimation of how much of Northern Ireland's commercial trout production was coming at the time from illegal establishments based on the 104 figure given by Ancram and came up with a figure which I believe is reasonably accurate at around 40 percent. Northern Ireland's reputation for meticulous health checks and disease free trout production for the supermarket trade is just as reliable as all the other information the rotten D.A.N.I. puts out through its controlled outlets. The other fact is Member that the control of chemicals which are used to prevent disease in the crowded conditions in official trout farms is missing on these sites, as is the necessary Inland Revenue declaration.

Nice little number Member. There were many reasons why the rotten D.A.N.I. with help from the Ulster Angling Federation had to get rid of us but I believe this was the main one.

In a battle like this Member the control of information is all-important as is the limiting of information to only those who can be trusted. We were giving them right stick and covering everything well and they were worried.

They were particularly worried about Angling Ireland Member. They had a loose cannon in the form of the editor who was liable to print what the threat of removing government advertisements and tenders prevented others from considering. It is all very well getting a fax from a publisher two days before a periodical appears on the shelves. It leaves little time to mount a damage limitation exercise. Articles are different from letters to the editor. I remember one letter of mine in the N.I. newspaper which was so hacked about by the government departments that you would have thought it was written by a lunatic. In 1995 and perhaps to this day Danny, Frank and myself received some unwelcome attention in the form of telephone taps. I had to call in the police of course and prepare a report for the Chief Constable who replied that I would have difficulty proving criminality but we know they did it. How we knew, apart from the odd click on the line, was the fact that they started to get a jump ahead of us. They were predicting where we would strike next. Something had to be done. We got the proof we needed of course and this is how it was done.

Danny and I sat in the car outside our house in February I believe of 1995 and discussed the problem. We still have to go through the same procedure today when the matter is vitally important. We decided to sell them a dummy. If you remember that meeting a few pages ago when it was decided, for that moment, that our association would prepare a project for the river Maine. I rang Frank and told him I had started the project and was considering asking for funds to buy out the generating contract at Randalstown in the summer each year to allow our salmon past the plant. A few days later Member, Keys rang to say that the D.A.N.I. was under the opinion that it would not be a good idea to suggest in the project buying out any of the generating time at Randalstown, just in case I was thinking along those lines. We knew then for sure. The D.A.N.I. did not want us coming to the tennis house with a proposal like that ... After all it would probably receive support.

By this time member, Keys had another nice little contract below his belt courtesy of the Cosa Nostra. After the hydro-electric plants on the Maine and the Tyrone Blackwater were licensed the anglers began to notice something strange. Their rivers had been diverted through the plants .... there was no water coming over the weirs ... their salmon were trapped .... the developers would not fit screens ... the developers would not shut down at the weekend as was required by the Fishery Act to limit the damage! Questions were being asked.

Keys rang to say that he had got a contract arranged by the D.E.D. and the rotten D.A.N.I. whereby his company, the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Co Lt.d would monitor the damage from the hydro-electric plants. The contract was for two years although the life cycle of the Atlantic salmon can be up to five. The taxpayer would foot half the bill and N.I.E. the rest although he, or the D.E.D. would not confirm the amount. He has no qualifications Member ... he is a former chicken farmer. Anything he knows about hydro-electrical power generation he learned from me. I challenged him not to accept the contract and he replied .. "if I don't do it they'll get someone more useful to them". They would have to search far. I knew there was a problem if the M.P.s asked questions about the monitoring company. Nobody associated with it had any qualifications other than those which are necessary in N.I. if you want to stay on the gravy train.

It was only a few days later that Keys rang and said .... "run this one across your head Harry ... we were thinking of bringing Dr Elaine Hamilton into the company". Forget if I told him, we have a file on her. "Oh right Harry, I didn't know" he said and hung up. Dr Elaine Hamilton is a former Scientific Officer with the Fishery Conservancy Board for N.I. In 1988 I believe, Danny has the full details in his file, she was caught with two Conservancy Board Bailiffs running an illegal salmon hatchery on the Grillagh river by local anglers who destroyed the site. There were dead salmon everywhere gutted and slit open to remove their eggs. We think it was for private supply to some of the salmon farms which were starting up at the time. The story actually made the press at the time for once and Danny has the clippings and a tape of Newell McCreight trying to hide it up. She was actually named in the House of Commons in a debate. Danny pushed hard to get her prosecuted but she had the goods on so many in the rotten D.A.N.I., just like ourselves, that it began to put the pressure on Smith, at the Board who is a former member of the R.U.C.Eventually Smith yielded to the pressure and called in what markers he had at the D.P.P. All three got a caution and kept their jobs. On one occasion, for anglers here have a long memory, the rotten D.A.N.I. were at a public meeting, which is risky for the D.A.N.I. and brought her along to see if the matter had been forgotten. Of course after about five minutes and angler stood up and yelled, "that's the ***** who killed our salmon", where upon Elaine had to make a hasty retreat, and so had the rotten D.A.N.I.

Relief was only temporary for Elaine down at the Board and, pushed by the D.A.N.I. which was concerned that Smith was not towing the proper line, she began to have designs on his station. Smith's a wily old copper however and got her in the long grass when she was dismissed for gross misconduct over "financial irregularities". She worked in Antrim Hospital for a while Member when a senior member of the D.A.N.I. slipped her into the laboratory and well out of the public eye for a while until it was safe to bring her back [she has the goods on them all]. I think if you ask questions Member you will find that the lure of Peace and Reconciliation money has cut short her enforced absence from the fishery scene and she is, at this very minute, being fitted out with a nice little consultancy.

That was a long but very necessary interlude between the meeting in Country House in Kells which left Danny, myself and our association intact with the expectation of submitting a project for the good of all on the river Maine and the harsh reality of our appointment with Madame Guillotine in the tennis house of Shanes Castle Estate two weeks later. On the evening of the meeting a friend in one of the angling clubs affiliated to our association rang to say that the word was out that our association was to be broken up and our day in the limelight was at an end. Nice the way they tell you in Northern Ireland Member. They have been corrupt so long it is safe now to be quite open about it.

We turned up for our appointment on the evening. Keys and McCreight were there of course with their newly acquired brief cases. Keys got the pencil out and licked it again, asking for the names of those present which were duly given. When we thought everyone had registered McCreight coughed and looking at the floor said ... "and the Ballynure Anglers". Most of the people there looked around in amazement having never heard of the "Ballynure Anglers". Danny and I knew what was going on however and so did John Beach, land steward of Shanes Castle Estate, who said .. "Would you repeat that Newell?". McCreight coughed and looked at the floor again and said "and the Ballynure Anglers". John Beach had the opportunity then to raise a stink as he knew well what the rotten D.A.N.I. was up to but let it pass as he knew the Estate was going to dip for Peace and Reconciliation funding to develop the private water below the hydro where the salmon would be trapped in the summer. A few days before the meeting the Randalstown Anglers had informed me they were withdrawing from our association [do it or you won't get the money] and that left the equation even.

That was Member, until McCreight's revelation, which demonstrated the wisdom of all the tramping he had done along the river Maine on behalf of the D.A.N.I. He had secured a couple of fields [six casts with a good salmon rod would cover them] alongside the territory of one of the clubs affiliated to the Ulster Angling Federation and brought in his friends in the Ballynure Anglers also in the Ulster Angling Federation leaving any subsequent voting at meetings in the favour of the D.A.N.I. Almost on cue one of those club members spoke up and said, his voice shaking with treachery ... "Would the Lough Neagh and Maine System Game Angling Association be deemed a suitable organisation to put forward a project to attract European funding having irritated the D.A.N.I. in the past". A vote was taken and a New Maine Enhancement Partnership was appointed for the river Maine. Keys then took a charter for the new organisation from his briefcase and read out the following that "any member of the new partnership could by recourse to other members of the partnership, remove any member of that partnership by giving two weeks notice of intent", a sort of indemnity against the unlikely possibility of anyone like Danny or me surfacing again. Danny said, "we're history Harry", and the job Member, was done. I'd like to take this opportunity Member elected as you are to serve the people in the New Northern Ireland Assembly, protect our fledgling democracy and promote democratic principles, of our crimes which could possibly justify that cynical execution. Danny and I fought to protect our river and others in N.I. from those who were ruining them and the corrupt bastards in the government departments who were protecting them. In that just fight we did the only thing possible when we found matters of major concern. We placed those concerns Member, where in a democracy they should lie, in the public domain.

There were one or two other items of business done that evening which most never paid any attention to. Keys tried to hurry up the river surveys which the funders had wisely started to ask for and said that his company would do surveys ... at a price, a sort of temptation, with him advising the rotten D.A.N.I. about the suitability of projects, for him to get the first option. Then we all left.

It was one of those crisp starry nights as we stood in silence by the great beech trees outside the tennis house sort of lost in our thoughts. I thought then about the advice I had given Smith which had left the D.A.N.I. with the money, knowing at the time that this night would be the result of it. Then we laughed Member .... we could still laugh.

Keys kept in touch for a bit after that, trying desperately to get me on board. The usual promises were made but they all meant throwing Danny to the wolves. Keys was still hedging his bets and for very good reasons, the most important of which was that we had the goods on him. The other immediate cause for concern was Angling Ireland. People were beginning to sit up and take notice. You know the saying Member, that the pen is mightier than the sword. It's quite true, only the pen takes that bit longer.

Keys made one last desperate attempt about two months after the fateful night. He called me and said would Danny and I come down and meet him in a café in Cookstown shopping centre which we agreed to do. This time we took no chances and had the bastard tailed. True to form Member he met officials from the D.A.N.I. before and after the meeting. Keys turned up with a document. It was a sort of balance sheet Member. On the debit side were all those things, which I have related in pain to you and which were prevalent on the river Maine and other rivers in Northern Ireland to be balanced against this "haul o' money". It was a bribe member and we could never accept it.

I'm sure you wonder how we kept our temper. It was difficult sometimes and especially at some of those meetings but we had learned the hard way Member. All the mistakes we had made in the six years of this saga, and mercifully they were few, had been the result of one or both of us loosing our temper and we resolved not to repeat those mistakes. That determination to keep our tempers saved the day in what was the ultimate attempt at treachery.

Keys rang one day and launched into this saga. I have no doubt that it was all the truth except for one crucial sentence. He told me this Member. He said that Barnoness Denton was beginning to get concerned about the hydro-electric policy and more importantly how much power could effectively be generated. [They couldn't stop all our letters getting through and certainly not the ones through a Member of Parliament] Keys told me that a meeting had been set up between Douglas B McIldoon, assistant secretary at the D.E.D. and an old gentleman from Cookstown who was an expert on turbines. Keys turned up early and he and the old boy talked for a bit until Douggie arrived. He took Keys round the side of the house where under a tarpaulin on a lorry was an old Francis turbine. The old boy said, "now that's a work horse of a turbine, the Kaplan's not worth a dam".

He went on to say that he had bought the turbine from a man who had been persuaded by the slick talking Maguire to replace it with the Kaplan. A few weeks later he was on the phone trying to get it back. The official car then drew up and out hops Douggie. The old boy said, "what's this I hear about you lunatics trying to generate electricity on our rivers?" Douggie replied that this was indeed the case and went on to relate some of the figures which had been touted around his department by the slick talking Maguire. The old boy laughed and said "you might get lucky and get a bit of power in a wet winter but the rest of the time you might as well spit", depositing one for emphasis quite close to Douggie's desert boots. Keys said that Douggie got a bit red about the chops, jumped into the car and sped off. I am of the opinion Member that he wasn't telling Douggie anything that he didn't know already ..... and a long time previously.

Douggie's move to the regulator's position came quite quickly after that. I had been informed by Keys in that same telephone conversation that he had left the D.E.D. to take up a position with one of the private generating companies which had been set up when N.I.E. was privatised. Now Keys is usually sound about those sorts of matters, spending his time as he does in the back pocket of the power brokers in the government departments and generally knows who is on the move. A few years previously Member my temper would have got the better of me and a scorching article in Angling Ireland would have resulted from that tasty piece of information. This time I took a few deep breaths and tried a different ploy. You see about two years earlier I had been torturing Douggie in the D.E.D. as to Maguire's business interests and he was getting restless. In one particular letter I made an allegation, which was sound and back came a reply along the lines that I ..... "should try that one in the press".

I sat down and prepared a letter for Douggie's boss Baroness Denton but took the precaution of sending it through my Member of Parliament. Basically I enquired about Douggie's career to date and his rumoured move to a positive with a generating company. Back came a stinging reply pointing out my error and confirming Douggie's appointment as the new Northern Ireland Electricity Regulator. Now had I prepared that article based on the information from Keys, as I would have been prone to back at the beginning, a writ would have followed from a well known firm of Belfast solicitors ... and I would have had to pull in my horns.

This is a bit long winded you know member and unfortunately I haven't finished yet. There really isn't any other way to do it and I hope your patience is holding out. The rest is bits and pieces really, many of them my own personal observations, a sort of filling in of the wider picture but still important for all that.

The Lough Neagh and Maine System Game Angling Association is gone over two years now and the silence, which has brought so many rivers in Northern Ireland to the verge of ruin, has descended again. My own club the Gracehill Galgorm and District of which I have such fond memories and which was formerly so independent is now solidly in the Ulster Angling Federation so I have to watch my step. The ultimate sanction would be a trumped up charge and then Member, remembering Maguire's remark to Frank ... "where would I fish". All the clubs on the Maine got their little bits of the peace money but paid for it with their independence. The Maine is no better now and infinitely worse in my opinion than before it came. Most of the larger amounts of money were creamed off in any event. I still get calls from anglers on the Maine, the ones who aren't aware that my telephone is tapped, asking for help with pollution and other matters, complaining that they can't get the new Maine Enhancement Partnership to do anything. One of them rang one evening asking if I would do something about a persistent polluter. I asked him if he had a pen. He actually went looking for one and when he returned to the phone I said to him "I want you to sit down and write a letter to your MP and then send copies of the letter as open letters to Angling Ireland and your local newspaper". There was a long silence and then he replied . "ah Harry the young boy has just finished college and he might be getting a job with the D.O.E. .... I thought maybe you would." At this point I hung up. What he well knew is that my daughter Laura graduates this year from St Andrews and has to make her way in the world, not that she will ever return to this rotten neck of the woods.

We faced some desperate situations member especially way back at the beginning when we were less publicly known. All that digging was turning up some faces which would have preferred to remain hidden, for as I am sure you are aware, what you are reading is only the tip of a rotten iceberg. Just after my election as secretary of the Lough Neagh and Maine System Game Anglers Association Frank's wife got a Jiffy bag which she opened when Frank was doing an article down in Cavan. The pressure pad e.t.c. was inside, the only thing missing being the explosive.

At the same time the previous secretary of our association, he was still snooping, got a similar delivery which had to be dealt with by the bomb squad. Danny got a threat and I received a phone call in the early hours of the morning to remind me that someone knew exactly where I lived. The word was put out that the events were triggered by awkward questions we were asking about illegal salmon netting but we were suspicious of that explanation. Never the less Member slight adjustments had to be made to our way of lives to say the least. For the first time in my life I thought about journeys before I made them and began sleeping in the spare room. As the months went by the worry diminished and it was back to the digging again, mostly along the lines of what you have already read and then this event happened which concentrated the mind somewhat at that particular time.

I had bought a little motorbike to travel to my work in the Michelin Tyre Company, which is only half a mile from where we live. One evening just before I left for work I decided to walk up to the Spar for some cigarettes. As I went out the gate I noticed a car parked at the top of the street which drove off as I approached. I thought about it a little for this was only a few months after the earlier events but decided to dismiss it from my mind. When I eventually set out for work the light had all but gone and as I turned on to the dual carriageway I noticed a car approaching at speed which after about one hundred yards was alongside me and steered me on to the kerb, over the metal barrier and down a fifty foot drop. A passing motorist on the other lane came to help me and although I was hurt, I managed to get myself pulled together. The police sealed off both ends of the motorway where the car had disappeared down, according to the motorist who helped me but were unable to get the car. Unfortunately it was back to the spare room again.

In 1997 Danny and I were down in Kilrea talking to a well known nationalist friend about some of the matters which you have just read and he advised Danny and I not to travel in the same car and to take precautions, as it would be all too easy at that time to make an example of us and "we would take the blame", which caused me to doubt further the explanation which had been given for the earlier Jiffy bags. I am of the opinion now that those deliveries were meant to shock us so much that we would go back to the river and keep our mouths shut. In Frank's case, rather quieter articles about trout and the weather would have been the intention. I often wonder how many of those unfortunate people who went missing or were killed during the troubles, were diggers like ourselves.

That's us nearly up to date. You have a working knowledge now of fisheries on the river Maine and as I'm sure you suspect much the same has been happening all over Northern Ireland over the past thirty years, all well hidden up of course. That Peace and Reconciliation money hid a multitude of evils and created just as many. The other major river which is suffering now from the hydro-electric assault, the Tyrone Blackwater is just in the same lamentable position as the Maine and the same tactics were employed there to silence the dissent as Tommy Conlon who I acknowledged in my earlier report will testify to. Tommy has given me horrifying photographs of work financed on the Blackwater with Peace and Reconciliation funding which was paid for and either not completed or done at all. The tendering was grossly over priced as the photographs will testify to and money travelled in envelopes.

As you are aware by now Keys has the contract from the D.E.D., one of a few he has with that organisation, to monitor the damage from the hydro-electric plants at Benburb on that river system. Tommy related an interesting story to me last month. Some friends were walking the river at Benburb one Sunday morning and peeping through the bushes noticed a balloon ziz zaging across the dead water below the weir. The water was dead because most of the river was going through the major hydro-plant at the site. The hid themselves and watched. Keys was there with a video-camera mounted [early Sunday, he thought there would be no-one about] He had netted a salmon and tied a balloon to its tail and was trying to prod it up to the fish pass to try to prove that there was adequate water to allow it upstream when the plant was operating and taking most of the river.

There are some unholy enterprises being financed out of the Peace and Reconciliation money at the present time. Sir Patrick McNaughten of Bann Systems dipped for around £40,000 as compensation for him not operating his rotten boxes at the Cutts for two years and the minute he had the agreement and the money he refused to co-operate with adequate flows being maintained from the Lough and the sea. I would be pretty sure they had a bumper first year of that buy out at his £200/day angling stations. All neatly set up by the D.A.N.I. of course after all that is one of their main functions to protect historic and parasitic vested interests. I think you should ask the D.A.N.I. to send you a copy of the Price Waterhouse Report "THE INTEGRATION OF THE PUBLIC ANGLING ESTATE AND MOVANAGHER FISH FARM INTO THE F.C.B."

You must make sure you get a full copy of the report, not an executive summary, which is what they slung out to the M.P.s here in the first place. Of course they fell for it. I had heard a rumour at the time the report was completed that there were some horrifying facts in it which, according to one insider, "could finish the F.C.B. and the D.A.N.I." I asked for the report and got the executive summary. By the way down at the Board the executive committee including Sir Patrick McNaughten and the vested interests like the bastard running the illegal fattening ponds were allowed to see the full report and the ordinary members [who might have asked awkward questions like who was creaming off the money] only permitted to see the summary. It took some persistence to get that full report Member but eventually the Doctor came up with the goods. One good thing about the report was this, it was a reputable company which complied it. When a government department has to prepare a report it must go to a reputable company or the Public Accounts Committee would ask awkward questions like who has their fingers in the pie. It's different for a report like the monitoring one for the hydro-electric plants which will only be slung out to a few anglers who won't rock the boat anyway, then you can turn to the likes of Keys and slip him a few bob. In his case it was more than a few bob. [£125,000].

The full report was a revelation. [This is a job for the Chief Constable Member] You must appreciate the real reason for its compilation. The heat was really on about three years ago and it was desperation stakes up in the DA.N.I. You see there were too many awkward facts leaking into the public domain mostly because any dirty deeds we came across we faxed immediately into the Prime Minister's office. Morning coffee tastes just a little on the bitter side when you are looking at a brochure of photographs of an illegal fattening pond and a transportation license signed by a deputy chief fishery officer glaring up from among your toast. There are of course a myriad of sections in the D.A.N.I. and some of the heads of those sections started to panic. It was looking like an investigation and there were some in the Fishery Division who could be facing a stretch. Attention might then turn to their own sections and they didn't want that. After all member .. you're only seeing the tip of the rotten iceberg. The Permanent Secretary at the D.A.N.I .was John Murray and he was finding the going tough keeping the lid on everything. He retired without a New Year's Day blessing and Peter Small, a graduate in law from the L.S.E. was sent in by Whitehall to tighten up the ship.

A big meeting took place up in the D.A.N.I. It is a fact of life Member that Northern Ireland is a small place and if you are persistent enough you can find out what is discussed at any major meeting in a government department here. This time it was different. Peter Small had calmed the panic and got the lid back on. This time however I needed no inside information. I knew exactly what was discussed and what the options were.

The main problem facing Small and the D.A.N.I. at the time was how to get rid of the Fishery Division without being seen to be getting rid of them. You can't ring your friends in a well known Northern Ireland Newspaper and ask them to carry a one liner to say that a whole division has been closed down. The information trail is well censored in N.I. but there are limits to what can be done. It was decided that the public angling estate and significantly Movanagher Fish farm, where a lot of the glaring rottenness was buried would be handed over to the Fishery Conservancy Board for N.I. in a sort of exercise which would convince the public that it was for the better of fisheries here. When you get the Price Waterhouse report and look at the options which were discussed you can see immediately where those in the D.A.N.I. who were assisting Price Waterhouse in its compilation carefully steered the company towards that apparently inevitable conclusion. It was planned that after the transfer of fisheries had taken place the one or two members of the Fishery Division who we had nothing on would be quietly transferred to the Board as employees and the rest would retire.

The plan hit a major snag after the report had been studied by the executive members of the board. They refused to accept it. The executive committee did not want the estate in its present form. The reason given sort of unofficially was that there was too much debt and no firm indication of how the family business would be financed in the future but I'm sure you would agree with me that buried in the previous 34 pages are the real reasons.

When you study the Price Waterhouse Report especially the section applicable to Movanagher Trout Farm you will see immediately the paucity of records in respect of financial data. Records of any kind do not exist before 1993 and there were no detailed records before 1995 which left only two years figures on which Price Waterhouse could prepare any sort of forecast about how the debt could be turned around into an operating profit, which is why the Board refused to accept the recommendations.

The Executive committee of the Board was also aware of another immediate problem. The lack of records on the financial performance of fisheries here in the past had forced Price Waterhouse to make a considerable exception in the case of its report which I am of the opinion it would not have considered in respect of any other business organisation or government department [outside Northern Ireland]. It was forced to rely on the word of the D.A.N.I. as to an assessment of how fisheries in N.I. would perform in the immediate future and the Executive members of the Fishery Conservancy Board for N.I. knew that those assurances, and I believe anyone studying these facts will agree with them, could not be relied upon.

The main concern about the Price Waterhouse Report member are those lack of records. It is inconceivable that for most of its existence Movanagher Trout Farm had no records in respect of trout production, movements, sales and receipts. Indeed there are records for the missing years, for Danny Brown as treasurer of the Kells and Connor Angling Club purchased trout from the farm during the years for which the D.A.N.I. could supply no records and I believe if rigorous investigations were made into the records of Angling Clubs in Northern Ireland, substantial records could be compiled for the years when the D.A.N.I. found itself unable to supply data to Price Waterhouse which would have enabled that company to formulate a policy for fisheries here based on reliable predictions.

Great concern has also been expressed to me Member and you can check this out for yourself, about the level of stockings of trout to reservoirs in Northern Ireland from the state owned hatchery over the years, in that many anglers have said that the level of trout which is claimed in the D.A.N.I. guide to have been introduced to individual reservoirs or lakes in no way matches the real amount introduced and many would argue falls far well below those claims, which begs the question as to where the rest went. Of course if the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary was aware that a state owned interpose had, for most of its existence, failed in its statutory requirements to compile financial records as to its transactions, I am in no doubt that an immediate investigation would be mounted and a report prepared by that Chief Constable to the elected members of the people of Northern Ireland in the form of the New Northern Ireland Assembly. On that subject I am sure you would like to have a background as to the workings of the state owned hatchery at Movanagher.

There was a time Member when I was in favour, long before I started digging and there were doors open that have subsequently been shut, which has restricted the flow of information somewhat in recent years. Indeed I was advised in 1992 by a friend who was as concerned as me as to the state of democracy in the region, not to rock the boat so hard and to keep my temper ... "temper Harry", he said "will cut you off and the information you seek will be all the harder to obtain", I ignored the advice initially Member and that added three years to my task. However, in 1992 I was still naive and as such still not under scrutiny. At that time I had just been elected to the committee of The Gracehill Galgorm and District Angling Club on the river Maine.

I well remember one occasion when I was invited, as part of an official visit by the committee of my angling club, to visit the Movanagher Trout Farm on the river Bann in a sort of publicity exercise by the D.A.N.I. I was well versed on fishery matters then Member. When I said I was naive I meant that in the sense of what was going on in the D.A.N.I. It was a Saturday when we all arrived for our appointment to be greeted by a senior fishery officer of the D.A.N.I. We were herded into an office and shown some charts on the wall about prime trout environment, which at that time and subsequently was sadly lacking on most of Northern Ireland's rivers. Then we were taken on a tour of the ponds, both earthen and cement, where the trout were kept before stocking out into reservoirs or for sale to private fisheries. I got suspicious immediately Member. In two of the tanks were large numbers of rainbow trout juveniles approximately 3 inches long. As to how many were there I am not sure. I would estimate at the lower end of the scale around 100,000. At that time most of the reservoirs were stocked out with brown trout. Admittedly a few specialised reservoirs received rainbow trout but in any year that would have justified keeping only about 5,000 juvenile rainbow trout for growing on. The D.A.N.I. of course was quite justified in keeping rainbow trout juveniles for sale to the many commercial rainbow trout enterprises in the province but, in the absence of records, the question to be answered is did any of them end up in an establishment similar to the one in the photographs which I have copied to you and, this is a matter which I am sure must concern the Chief Constable to a certain extent, especially as it is mentioned in the Price Waterhouse report that advice was taken from a local trout farmer in respect of the investment that would be required [ which Price Waterhouse questioned] to develop the Movanagher Trout farm to the serve the demand which the D.A.N.I. predicted, was this trout farmer mentioned in the Price Waterhouse report the same trout farmer who received a transportation license from the D.A.N.I. to move stock from his trout farm to the illegal fattening pond in 1994 well before the unlicensed site had belatedly received its statutory requirements. An awkward question I would have thought Member .... for any Chief Constable.

After we had our tour of the ponds we were taken in to see the hatching trays under roofs in the hatchery. I well remember walking down the long line of trays containing little brown trout, just out of their eggs. The last three trays caused me some concern Member. I have an excellent working knowledge of the physiology of juvenile brown trout in that, unlike their close cousins the Atlantic salmon, they are less afraid of the light. In the last three trays the juveniles hid away from the light. I said to the senior fishery officer ..... those are bloody salmon. The senior fishery officer said, "you're very astute .... a little experiment we are running". Now at that time, which was not far distant in time from the Grillagh incident, which any Chief Constable of the R.U.C. would be well advised to investigate, Sir Patrick McNaughten was getting it a bit tight at his trapping operation down at the Cutts on the lower Bann with lack of returning salmon .... I wonder where those fry were destined for?, especially as there are no records of them anywhere!

The other revelation in the Price Water House Report is the list of fishing rights in N.I. and more importantly who owns them. It clearly says in the report, and Price Waterhouse is not known for making mistakes, that the fishing rights of the Lower Bann are owned by the D.A.N.I, which should make any democrat wonder how Bann Systems have been operating their lease over the years from that blood sucking group The Honourable Irish and making handsome profits in the process and why they are stitching up a deal on the Lower Bann at the present with "friendly anglers" to enable them to hold on to their kingdom when accountability is finally restored.

That's about it member and good job too for a grey dawn is breaking. I've seen a fair few dawns over the years. Not that it did me any good for I'm of the opinion now that the democratic process is a lost endeavour in this particular neck of the woods.

There isn't much investigating to do in respect of the illegal fattening pond at Carclinty Road .... should save some shoe leather, but a lot of people have long memories in respect of the Grillagh incident and are wondering. The only other thing member left for me is to thank you for all your efforts on our behalf and especially for the prompt and sympathetic response to appeals for an inquiry into the condition of the angling estate in which this testimony may assist.


The former honorary secretary, removed by the D.A.N.I., The Lough Neagh and Maine Systems Game Anglers Association.

10 June 2000

Some other information which the committee might find disturbing. In 1995, when Keys and McCreight broke up our angling association, Danny and I lobbied the Westminster M.P.s hard and for once they took a little notice. Some, and especially William Ross, were angry that the department had salaried Keys and McCreight out of the Peace and Reconciliation Settlement and tackled the Minister about the scandal. As result they only got two years salary although they had been promised an extension, which was a nice reward for what they did to Danny and me. We were told by an insider that McCreight had been "seen all right for his services" but were unable to find out how the D.A.N.I. arranged it. We knew Keys was, in the words of an employee of a competent environmental engineering company who failed to get a look in for the hydro monitoring contract, well set up for retirement. Of course he is involved with a Leader II group in Cookstown so he has his hands on unlimited grants. McCreight's pay off remained a mystery however, until today.

Frank came into the possession of a book containing the accounts of the North Antrim Leader Group. The leader groups are how funding is dribbled out of central government funds for what are determined as valuable projects in the community but have always been used by the rotten departments in the N.I.O., to reward those who have shown exceptional service in the past.

In the accounts for the North Antrim Group was the salary for a development worker for the North Atlantic Salmon Trust at £2,000 per annum. So important did the government departments feel that this development worker was, that apart from the salary from the North Antrim Leader, he was drawing a similar amount from four other Leader groups in Northern Ireland and a salary from Ballymena Council. One of the members of the Larne Angling Club rang the chairman of the Leader Group and asked for the worker's name and he refused to give it. By the way the development workers duties for the salaries were .. "lobbying for salmon and sea trout". A bit hard to ask someone to lobby when no one knows who he is. However I rang Ballymena Council and informed it that I was a ratepayer in the region and demanded the information. I got it .. Mr Newell McCreight. It would seem that Mr McCreight found the removal of his salary by the D.A.N.I. under pressure from M.P.s, only a minor inconvenience in that the rotten departments set him up immediately with a secure source of income, for services rendered of course. Mr McCreight was instrumental in destroying the legally constituted angling association of which I was the secretary in early 1995, under instructions from the D.A.N.I. I find the situation ironic, in that five years later I am contributing, through my rates, to the salary of the man who helped to destroy me.

The Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers
Attorney General's Chambers
9 Buckingham Gate

9 March 2000

Thank you for your letter dated 8th January but received here on 16th February addressed to the Attorney General. I regret the time it has taken to reply to your letter but we have spoken on the telephone.

The points you make raise complex issues as regards the powers and responsibilities of the Attorney General. The actions of the Department of Agriculture (Northern Ireland) are the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and not the Attorney General and if the Department is not fulfilling its obligations in relation to fishery prosecutions then it is strictly a matter for the Secretary of State. Nevertheless, the Attorney General, as chief state prosecutor, may have some, if undefined, role to play.

I have discussed your letter with a number of people and I am minded to suggest to the Attorney General that he write to the Secretary of State asking him to satisfy himself that the Department, when prosecuting, complies with the Test for Prosecution. This test lays out certain standards of fairness in conducting prosecutions. Such a letter would, however, have to set out the reason why the Attorney General is writing in such terms. This will mean the letter will have to refer to the examples you give of the DANI acting improperly.

You have clearly drafted your letter to the Attorney General with great care and the effort you have expended in writing it is clear. But I am afraid it will not do: it is far too long. No minister has the time to read letters of that length and whilst I am grateful to you for setting out the matter clearly, a much shorter letter will be needed if it is to attract the attention of the Secretary of State. Would it be possible for you to set out in no more than two pages the cases in which you think the DANI has acted improperly? The purpose would be simply to identify the cases concerned. If further information is needed it can be requested. The letter can then accompany the letter from the Attorney General to the Secretary of State.

I should emphasise that I have not yet put the matter to the Attorney General and he may not agree with what I propose. I would be happy to speak to you if that would help. My telephone number is shown above.

Yours sincerely


The Secretary of State for NI
Mr Peter Mandleson
The Private Office
Stormont Castle

18 March 2000

I have recently written to the Attorney General and at some length, expressing my concerns with regards the actions of the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland and the Fishery Conservancy Board in respect of their interpretation of fishery legislation and prosecution of those allegedly in breach of that legislation historically in Northern Ireland. The matters I place before you today are of concern, not only to myself but also increasingly to many others in Northern Ireland, who have endured an unsatisfactory state of affairs for a number of years.

It is my contention, Secretary of State, that the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland intervened improperly in the attempted prosecution of alleged offenders by the Fishery Conservancy Board for N.I. and in the unjustified support of vested interests using rivers and waterways in Northern Ireland. I also believe that the Department of Agriculture undermined the position of the Fisheries Conservancy Board for N.I. in its prosecution responsibilities, by the abuse of exemptions, excluding vested interests from the full provisions of sections of the Fisheries Act. I am also convinced that the Department, in the form of it's Fishery Division, conspired in 1995, with two members of an angling lobby group, which it had previously salaried to itself, in the breaking up of a legally constituted angling association, The Lough Neagh and Maine System Game Angling Association, of which I was the honorary secretary. In that unjustified action, it is my opinion, that the department acted in that instance, as in others and with the malevolent use of Peace and Reconciliation funding from the EEC, to prevent matters of concern being brought to the attention of the public and political representatives in Northern Ireland.

I bring to your attention, Secretary of State, a recent prosecution against a local trout farmer, Mr William Baird M.B.E. and former executive member of the Fishery Conservancy Board, which was abandoned by the board on the 25th January 2000, after numerous adjournments over a period of two years. Mr Baird, M.B.E., was charged in April 1997 under various sections of the Fisheries Act, under which he had been convicted and fined previously. During the period of the trial Mr Baird, M.B.E., despite being given the opportunity by the magistrate, neither compiled with the relevant sections of the act, or the exemption issued by the Department of Agriculture lessening his full obligations. Finally on the 25th January Mr Baird's solicitor advised the magistrate that a member of the Fishery Division was prepared to testify on his client's behalf and the case was abandoned. Similarly in May 1999, Hillmount Properties, hydro-electric developers on the river Maine, were convicted only on a technicality and for the same alleged offences, with the Fishery Conservancy Board paying the costs, when the defendants, under oath, alleged that the Fishery Division had inspected the site and found the fishery protection measures adequate. In March and September 1997, Mr Anthony Oneil, hydro-electric developer on the River Maine was reported to the Fishery Conservancy Board, by it's conservation officer, Mr William Owens, of 14 Braidvalley View, Broughshane, for similar infringements of fisheries legislation and the cases were not progressed. Exemptions had also been issued in this instance.

Further in 1995 Mr William Baird, M.B.E., was detected operating an illegal trout farm and breaching fisheries legislation on the river Maine, when he was cautioned by Mr Owens who submitted the case for prosecution. The charges were dropped, despite the fact that I have a copy of a transportation license issued by the Fishery Division in 1994 authorising deliveries of trout to the then illegal site. The site was only licensed, belatedly, under the Water Act in March 1996.

These are but a few of numerous similar cases which, when you are fully advised, I believe will be of major concern to you as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Mr William Owens has kept extensive records during his employment with the board and has indicated his willingness to make them available to you if required. I am fully convinced, that when those records are scrutinised, the concerns I have outlines to you and the Attorney General will be validated and my complaints regarding the abuses perpetrated by the Department of Agriculture upheld.



Before studying the critical appraisal it is important, I believe, to see the whole matter in context. Much of what you have read initially are matters which would be freely open for discussion in other countries where less government control was exercised and informed debate would take place, with a consensus arrived at eventually, which struck a fair and equable balance between those who use rivers for legitimate business and the health of fisheries. Indeed, in other more enlightened countries, with a thriving sport angling asset, those debates are a matter of course, including I might add the former Soviet Union. It pains me to have to inform this committee that as I write, holidays are being booked on the internet to fly tourist anglers, in former Russian army helicopters, to the great salmon rivers of Northern Russia and all we seem to be able to offer is a day's fishing behind a weir at Carnroe on the river Bann, at over £200 a session or a day on a "put and take" where the trout have been reared on pellets in a trout farm.

It is not the intention of the author of this critical appraisal to punish legitimate water users in any way. Those who have used our rivers for centuries have provided employment and contributed in no small way to the economy of the country. For fisheries to thrive in the modern era, a balance must be struck which seeks to protect our rivers and fisheries in light of their economic value to all and the legitimate needs of business.

To properly imagine the debate it is useful to imagine a grandfather clock. Those who seek to protect fisheries are, in a democracy, engaged in a gentle [hopefully] tug of war on the pendulum, with other water users. If one considers the area from a quarter past the hour to twenty five past as the area where the fishery interest is served and from twenty five to, up to the quarter as the interests of the other water users, then the battle takes place and it is a necessary one, between twenty five past and twenty five to the hour. In that area, fisheries, while not being fully protected have a useful contribution to make and the economic interests of other water users are not seriously affected. It is the role of free lobby groups and our legislators and I thank God that they have returned, to ensure that the pendulum does not stray too far in either direction out of this zone. In Northern Ireland during direct rule, by the sinister control of lobby groups, the failure to introduce modern primary environmental legislation, perversion of the course of justice, the abuse of exemptions and collusion with vested interests, that battle area moved until it took place within the minute up to the quarter to the hour and our once famous inland fisheries were wrecked.







The hydro-electric monitoring study, on which this critical appraisal is based, makes little reference to the introduction of the field of hydro-electrical power generation to rivers in Northern Ireland, in the hands of the private sector. No criticism must be made of the monitoring study for the exclusion of that background, however it is vital that the Minister and members of the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee are aware of events and circumstances leading up to the commissioning of the report and why it was necessary. Many of those circumstances have been presented to the New Northern Ireland Assembly in our first Assembly report "An Appeal for an Investigation" and in subsequent correspondence with members of the Committee of the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee. To be unaware of that information, before studying the Hydro-electrical Monitoring Report, would leave those who have to decide on its accuracy, or approve its recommendations, in a significantly inconvenienced position. As the future of fishery protection in Northern Ireland depends in no small way, on proper protection of fisheries at hydro-electric sites, unless that is, a decision based on proper evaluation of the amount of electricity that can be usefully provided by this generation method is taken, it is vital that this back ground is properly examined.

To properly advise the Committee will require complete honesty on my part and I give that undertaking to the Minister and Committee members now. I have no financial interest in Northern Ireland's angling estate, other than to see it administered in a fashion which brings benefit to the people of the area and enables us to fully protect that resource into the foreseeable future and see it developed in a competent manner.

The Non Fossil Fuel Obligation, of which the exploration of hydro-electrical power generation in Northern Ireland was a part and the Monitoring Study and this appraisal, a result is, in my opinion, a worthy enterprise and moral obligation for mankind. That enthusiasm must, however, be tempered with caution. The effect of carbon dioxide, the major contributor in greenhouse gas emissions, although methane is a better "trapper" of infra-red radiation, in climatic change, is now better understood. Ice cores taken from polar regions and analysed for carbon dioxide content and covering periods of thousands of years, have indicated that when levels of the gas increase in the atmosphere, the trend is closely mirrored by a global increase in temperature, although with an inevitable, but not excessive time lag. Against this background, the effects of Man's activities must be gauged. Since 1860, with a temporary downward blip in the trend, in the period after two world wars, mankind has released 185 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It took over a century to release 80 billion of that total and only forty for the other 105, which is a measure of the energy hungry lives modern humans lead. The effects of that ever growing total are now widely accepted, as present day ever more dramatic climatic events indicate.

The question of how to reverse that growing trend has occupied many scientific minds over the past decade. It is a difficult question, when one is forced to consider options. Many believe that the conclusions are inescapable. Mankind either continues to rely on hydrocarbons or increases its reliance on nuclear generation, with all its accompanying hazards. Some countries, France notably, faced with a scarcity of hydrocarbon resources, has already made that choice. Against that background of exponentially increasing energy demand and realistic choices, the drive to explore renewable energy production in its many forms, must be seen in context. The problem, as always, is one of scale.

Of all the various methods of renewable energy production, wind power finds the most support, from those enthusiastic about the field, in that, at least the scale of capacity rates relatively favourably with conventional power generation, if one is prepared to tolerate mountainsides covered with wind farms but then there is the problem of when the wind does not blow. Hydro-electric power generation has its supporters however but as one American opponent, faced with the inevitable damage to fisheries which had been well predicted, remarked, "usually the manufacturers of turbine equipment and fish passes".

The problem again, apart from those of the necessary protection of fisheries and probably more so in the case of hydro-electric power generation, is one of scale. It is one that has always been recognised by those engineers willing to tackle the fishery problems of which there are many. For most of the past century, little attention was paid to fishery detail until, especially in America, the damage became apparent. The commercial salmon canning industry in America became alarmed at the decline in stocks and numerous field studies, by those in the fishery field with suitable qualifications and by independent environmental engineering companies affiliated to accredited bodies, were set in place to effect remedies. As a result, many sound and competent scientific investigations exist and are in my possession and which are available to committee. On some of the major American River systems, the damage was so severe, that Congress legislated to prevent further developments. Admittedly many of those developments were massive and involved damming complete rivers and drawing them off, however when we come to look at what has been termed "small scale hydro-electric developments, the problems are essentially the same, especially as in Northern Ireland, laws which regulate the amount of water which can be drawn off are practically non existent. A few people, including myself, are concerned about that historic situation in Northern Ireland during the period of direct rule, lobbied to have that situation reversed and proper regulation of the abstraction field, before and after the hydro-electrical field was explored but had never the political clout of those who were in possession of ancient and archaic water rights and who were able to find remarkable support for their opinions among the decision makers in Northern Ireland's government departments. If I return to the matter of scale, in respect of hydro-electrical power generation on Northern Ireland's rivers, one has to look at the forecast energy production at many of the licensed sites. I can only make an assessment of actual production at individual sites from the tender rating on planning applications, although as most committee members are aware, the developers in rounds 1 and 2 of the N.F.F.O., had secured those generating contracts, before they applied for planning permission. For example the production of electricity at the monitored site, Randalstown, from the Kaplan turbine supplied by the sole producer of this type of equipment in Northern Ireland, is rated at 400kw. That figure is complicated however, in that it is the maximum which can be obtained from maximum use of available water and says nothing about the times when the river is low, which on a river like the Maine which has suffered from drainage, can be a significant part of the year. It is not, as many believe, a steady output for all of the year. That figure must be significantly lower. I asked Mr Patrick Haren, chairman of Northern Ireland Electricity, to make available the generating data for all of the hydro-electric plants licensed under the N.F.F.O., so as I could present it to the committee but Mr Haren refused. If one looks at the ratings for some of the plants, which incidentally are not mentioned in the Hydro-electric Monitoring Study, one will notice some plants licensed at a rating of 200kW and some as low as 50Kw. A 50 Kw output, if it could be guaranteed for all of a year, is effectively 50 one bar electric fires or the total energy needs of 8 average houses. Against this fact, one has to balance the fishery problems. Grave concerns have been made to me, by those competent in the field and which I made available to government departments in the N.I.O., before this type of energy production was explored, that the construction of plants with a rating of 200Kw and under, would, by the expenditure of energy incurred in the production of the plant and ancillary equipment, be a net contributor to greenhouse gas emissions during the working lifetime of the site. I am unable to verify these concerns, which the scant data in my possession tentatively supports, because of the refusal of Mr Patrick Haren, to supply me with the generating figures.

I cannot over emphasise the importance of reading the Hydro-electric Monitoring Study in context. With that in mind I have included essential reading, in the experiences of a few others and myself during the last decade, in which the background to today's events in graphically laid out. With the Hydro-electric Monitoring Study in the possession of the committee it is, in my opinion, crucial that the 20,000 word report of our experiences during the nineties, be read before embarking on that study.


The regulation of hydro-electric developments, with a view to the proper protection of fisheries, is always a subject of heated debate. However there are some matters on which the protagonists involved at any development have historically been in agreement and that is, that data collected must be secured in a competent and scientific manner, in order that the best solutions are arrived at. Of equal importance are the terms of reference of any study, which would hope to present reliable predictions and recommendations.

Where the protection of the Atlantic salmon and migratory trout is the primary objective, as it is in all cases monitored in the recent study, it is universally agreed, among competent scientific opinion, that the life cycles of the subject fish under consideration must be of primary importance. The reasons for this are clear. In the compilation of data on fish, which may return from the ocean or Lough Neagh in the case of Northern Ireland's migratory trout, up to five years or more from the time when they migrated from a river system, one must ensure that the study period covers every possible contingency in respect of life cycle related time span. In other words, if the juveniles [smolts] of the salmon migrate in February to June of this present year, many will return next year as grilse but significant numbers in subsequent years as mature salmon. The situation is somewhat similar for the migratory dollaghan which may spawn many times, unlike the Atlantic salmon. The study period must reflect these life styles. To adequately cover this and as a result, compile reliable statistics, on which recommendations can be based, a figure of five years for the study period is the minimum on which any reliable study should be based. On this point, all of the competent fishery opinions, with whom I have consulted, are in agreement.

The study period for the project, for which a contract was awarded to the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd, was from the 2 June 1997 until the 2 June 1999. If one considers the 1999 year of the contract one notes that when it finished on the 2nd June, none of the returning salmon from the previous year's migration, which would have been unobserved by any study regime at the hydro-electric plant being monitored, as juveniles on migration in the previous year, had yet arrived in the river. Because of the many obstructions on our river systems, most of the returning salmon do not enter individual rivers until July at the earliest. Similarly, in the previous year 1998, which the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd study remarked was a remarkable one on the Maine for returning salmon, a fact I would disagree with, those salmon would have migrated past the plants from February to the beginning of June 1997, a period during which the sites were not being monitored. When I mentioned this fact to competent fishery opinion it was appalled and asked me to do what was in my power to prevent the authorities from publishing the report, fearing that, in one notable's words, "The science of fishery evaluation would be creditably damaged for a century". I had, in the period before the monitoring began, made representations to the Fishery Division of the former D.A.N.I. and to the Energy Policy Division of the Department of Economic Development, with regards the times scale of the study, to be informed by both departments that "it will do".

With regards the compilation of data at hydro-electric sites, it is universally accepted by those competent in the field, that observation and the collection of witness evidence is highly unreliable methodology. With that in mind, many of the most accredited studies undertaken by those competent in the field, from America notably, have opted to rely on the physical collection of data i.e. the use of monitoring devices for recording the upstream passage of mature adults and particularly the movement of juveniles downstream. The importance of this methodology will not be lost on the Committee, in that a database of mechanically recorded fish passage can be compiled, on which any future recommendations as to operational regimes can be based. [See Fish Migration At Small Hydropower Developments: An overview of the issues, by Ben Rizzo and Hydroaccoustic Studies Of Downstream Migrating Salmonids At Hydropower Dams: Two Case Studies, by Gary A Raemhild, Richard Nason and Steven Hays]. To quote from the above case studies which were carried out into the effectiveness of juvenile migration at Rocky Reach, Washington State, in 1982 and 1983; Hydroacoustic data were collected 24hrs/day for the 4 to 6 week study periods. The primary data records were chart recorder echograms. Fish traces were identified according to established detecting criteria and primary data [range from transducer, trace type etc.] were entered into computer data files using a digitising pad. All subsequent data analyses were accomplished using custom computer software. To account for the cone-like geometry of the acoustic sampling volumes and the proportions of intake widths sampled, individual fish detections were first multiplied by geometric weighing factors according to the fish's position in the beam. Estimates of fish passage into individual spill bays and turbine units were based on the total weighted fish detections over a given period.

Such mechanical but essentially reliable methods of evaluating fish passage at small scale hydro-electric developments have been available at minimal cost to those undertaking field studies since the late seventies and the technology now is much improved since those early days. It is true that fyke nets are used on occasions, as in the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd monitoring study but rather as an occasional back up to more reliable data collection methods and as a means of examining individuals in the migrating cohort. It is also true that in appendix five, the study states that fish finders [acoustic] were used to check the presence of fish at screens but it is not stated whether acoustic fish finders were a permanent emplacement at all of the sites being monitored, as they should have been to compile accurate data, or give any data for number of fish allegedly, successfully diverted at each monitored site. For example, no tables are given of peaking at sites [time of day when maximum juvenile migration was taking place] or graphs correlating maximum passage against river flow rates.

In practically all of the competent studies which are in my possession, the data is laid out in graph form, relating juvenile fish passage to time of day, flow rates in the river, depth in the water column where maximum migration took place and water temperature at various heights in the water column. If the study sought to be scientific, this information should have been provided.

The upstream passage of mature returning adult salmon and migratory trout at small-scale hydro-electric developments, is equally as contentious as that of downstream movement of juveniles. Much work has been done in this field. Because the topic is so contentious i.e. if salmon and migratory trout are not provided with continuous easy access upstream, the fishing potential of the river system and livelihoods of those who depend on it can be ruined, it is essential therefore, that the methods used for tabulating upstream movement of mature fish, are such that the need to rely on human observation, which is essentially unreliable, is effectively removed. A variety of methods have been used in the past, ranging from the worst i.e. human observation and reliance of witness evidence of fish actually caught by anglers, which, in the absence of verifiable catch data from angling club records, actually ranks as the most deplorable, to mechanical and computer based analysis, which ranks as the best but is still not completely reliable, as nothing in the hand of man ever is.

The problems associated with the observational method of measuring fish movement upstream at weirs, where water is drawn off for hydro-electrical power generation will be evident to the committee. To ensure even a limited degree of accuracy, a number of volunteers must spend the daylight hours at each site, when river conditions dictate and for the total duration of the study and the human fallibility factor has a high impact on any data gathered. Adult salmon migration, of all fish, tends to be highly erratic and unpredictable, which is why the control of river flows past water abstraction sites to facilitate migration while generation is taking place, is a field fraught with difficulties and best left to those with proper qualifications and experience in the field and based on sound data.

Similarly, the dangers involved in relying on angling catch records, when they actually exist, will be evident to committee members. Anglers exaggerate and in particular those who pursue the Atlantic salmon. If one were to be compelled to rely on witness evidence for any stock assessment, those competent in the field of the fishery sciences, would be better served if they pursued a different career.

To counteract these shortcomings, and bring the monitoring of measures to facilitate the passage of mature salmon and migratory trout at small scale hydro-electric developments into proper scientific realms, those, who are wedded to the proper evaluatory disciplines, have preferred to adopt mechanical means of data collection, as with the assessment of the downstream passage of juveniles at sites and backed up with computer based data files for the maintenance of reliable records and the preparation of sound recommendations. The preferred method for the recording of adult fish passage upstream is, understandably, as with the monitoring of juvenile movements downstream, hydroacoustical fish counters, of which a wide variety exist, ranging from the moderately accurate and reliable, to those which are highly so. Indeed the technology exists and has been widely used in other countries, for the information recorded by such systems to be sent continuously to a central data base which essentially removes the necessity and expense of human observation and its inherent unreliability. With such systems in place one can, with a proper flow measurement device installed at site of abstraction, correlate the escapement upstream with residual flows available in the abstracted channel and prepare scientifically compiled recommendations for residual flow rates, which will maximise migration.

It appals me that I have to report to this committee, that during the period when all the sites were allegedly monitored by the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd, there were, uniquely, no fish counters, of any description, on any of Northern Ireland's rivers. This disgraceful oversight was reported to the relevant departments, well before the commencement of the studies, as it effectively ruled out any scientific evaluation of the damage. The study went ahead regardless however.

With reference to the Randalstown Hydro on page 3 of the Executive Summary under "Randalstown Hydro" the report says, quote, "One or more fish passes, incorporating automatic counters, were recommended by the monitoring team to be built into the head weir. It was noted that construction work had started on this project in November 1999", If committee members study the dates when the study took place both at Randalstown and the other sites which were monitored, it will be clear that the recommendations which the study came to, were arrived at in the absence of proper systems to compile accurate data in that permanent hydroacoustic counters to monitor adult migration upstream, were missing from all the sites during the monitoring period and I believe acoustic monitors for the measuring of downstream passage were not permanently fixed features.

In the absence of fish counters to tabulate escapement upstream we unfortunately have to rely on verifiable angling club records of fish catches, to try and fill in the missing data. Again it appals me to have to report to the committee, that verifiable means of correlating fish catches by individual anglers and angling clubs did not exist at the time of the studies and subsequently, despite repeated representations on the necessity of this to the Fishery Division of the former Department of Agriculture, now a part of Culture Arts and Leisure.

In the Monitoring Study, section 4, page fourteen, the rivers, the fisheries, the sites, sub-section 4.1.1., one can see the angling reports for the River Blackwater, which was part of the monitoring study. The report says, quote, "in 1997 there was good angling in the last week of October at Benburb when 27 late salmon [unverified]; [late salmon are fish which are coloured by being delayed in freshwater and are of little angling interest as they are on the verge of spawning] were taken mostly using shrimp as bait. The Clogher stretch produced over seventy late salmon [unverified] and a club member there [identity unknown] reported 64 large redds [unverified] between Augher and Clogher. In the next paragraph the study says,

Quote, "By the end of August 1998, dollaghan [Lough Neagh trout] were being caught at Clogher in larger numbers than previous years [unverified]. Two anglers [unidentified] took 150 dollaghan trout of 1-2 lbs on the fly over two weeks [unverified] and the river trout fishing improved around Clogher. Over 60 late salmon were caught on the Clogher stretch [unverified] but again no report of migratory catches on the Monaghan stretch.", end quote. Study quotes in blue, italicised sections mine.

The reports from the section quoted, The rivers, the fisheries, the sites, in the hydro-electric monitoring study for the river Blackwater, during the period of the monitoring study, are a salutary reminder to the committee of the dangers of trying to draw conclusions from unsubstantiated data in the absence of scientifically based methods. These reports of what, on the face of it, looks like excellent game angling, but for the fact that most of the fish were allegedly caught in the last weeks of the last month of the angling season, might lead the unwary to assume that in the absence of tried and trusted data, assumptions could be drawn that might be relied upon. I have checked these claims with Mr Tommy Conlon, angling correspondent, for the Tyrone Times, who has a lifetime's experience on the Tyrone Blackwater and he found the description of Angling on the Blackwater during the period of the Monitoring Study, quite incredible. Committee members will note the reference during two of the years to "no reports of migratory fish taken on the Monaghan stretch of the Blackwater" whatsoever and I would imagine that this reflects more accurately the situation on the entire river system. For example if the committee studies the report that two anglers took 150 dollaghan trout of 1-2 lbs on the fly in a period of two weeks, a report which is unsubstantiated I might add, it might wish to ponder the accuracy of the information, as during that period I can find no other literary source which carries similar claims, which would have been welcome news in the present state of angling in the province. Reference is also made in the same paragraphs quoted, of 64 large redds [salmon spawning areas] in 1997 between Augher and Clogher. Redds look to the untrained eye like large mounds of gravel washed into place by floods and even I have difficulty distinguishing between actual redds and natural features on occasions. It is a science only for the expert. The report of 64 redds Tommy Conlon finds extraordinary and again remark to the committee the dangers of relying on unsubstantiated reports in any scientific study. Indeed 64 salmon redds on the Maine river system, which has been damaged less by the drainage division of the former D.A.N.I., than has the Blackwater, would be considered remarkable.

In the absence of reliable and scientific migratory evaluation techniques, the information of angling on the river Maine, in the study and during the time span of the monitoring procedure, raises similar concerns as those self evident on the Blackwater system. If committee members care to study page 26, section 4.3.1, Angling on the river Maine during 1997 and 1998, quote, "The numbers of migratory fish returning to system increased over the seasons 1997 to 1999 [inclusive]. This has been confirmed by angling reports [unverified] feedback from Lough Neagh's commercial fishermen [which is the first official admission ever, that salmon are, uniquely for Northern Ireland, netted in freshwater] and by observation at weirs and by redd counts [not included]. In paragraph three, page 26, section 4.3.1. of the study, also of note is, quote, "The Summer and Autumn of 1998 will be remembered for breaking rainfall [I assume "record" as insert] and recent angling records [none available]. Mention of [unverified] salmon being caught at Kells and Cullybackey in June and the angling at Shanes Castle estate being the best for many years surprised many concerned". In paragraph 2, quote, "During the 1997 angling season, floods at the end of June, July and August and the fact that the turbine was down for repair, allowed salmon to travel upstream to Randalstown weir"

Also in the same section 4.3.1. quote, "The River Braid fished particularly well towards the end of the 1998 season, so much so that some anglers want a limit set on the daily catch to be taken throughout the Maine system."

In the penultimate paragraph of page 26, section 4.3.1, the report says, quote, "Angling reports [unsubstantiated] showed that the fish which hole up in the Shanes Castle stretch [below the hydro-plant where they are delayed when the plant is taking 85% of the river] tend to run through the Andraid and Galgorm stretches to Cullybackey and the lower Kells and Braid before proceeding to the Clough, upper Braid, Upper Maine and Upper Kells [see appendix 6]. Quotes from study in blue, italicised sections mine.

If we look a description of angling on the river Maine, during the brief period of the monitoring study, it seems on the face of it, that there has been little if any effect on the fishery from the operation of the hydro-electric plants at Randalstown and Harperstown, until one considers the careful use of words. Firstly and I freely admit this, the 1998 season was a rarity, in that, breaking the pattern of the past decade and longer, more Atlantic Salmon returned to all of Ireland's rivers than would have been expected, which reflected circumstances at sea and factors impinging on drift net fishing. The normal trend was resumed in 1999, during which returns of adult salmon dropped in all of Ireland's rivers and slumped disastrously in Northern Ireland, in that many clubs struggled to find brood stock for hatcheries, in order that the species might survive, at the end of the 1999 season. Committee members might care to note the sentence beginning paragraph 1 section 4.3.1, quote, "The numbers of migratory fish returning to system increased over the seasons 1997 to 1999 inclusive." Again as with the river Blackwater, the returning salmon in the "good" season of 1998, escaped to the sea as juveniles, before June 1997 and the beginning of the monitoring exercise and although the flavour of the report might seek to indicate that the returns are an indication of satisfactory operation of the plants, this information should not be included in the study and if the study sought to be professional, this fact should have been acknowledged.

In the quotes from the study with regards the 1997 season, which was a poor one and this fact has not been properly acknowledged, mention is made of the fact that "the turbine was down for repair". I can speak with some experience of that particular season and particularly of observations of fish passage on the lower Braid at Harryville weir in Ballymena, although I would again re-iterate my concerns to the committee that my information is based on observation only although Harryville weir is well tenanted during the periods when salmon are expected to be on the move and little escapes the attention of the locals, some of whom are anglers by day and poachers at night. In that 1997 season, long periods elapsed when the river was at ideal height for migration and no fish were noted travelling upstream. On at least three of those occasions anglers watching the weir in my company, drove down to Randalstown and when they returned, they informed me that the weir was practically dry, with almost the entire river diverted through the hydro-electric plant. The study does admit that the breakdown of the turbine, restoring water over the weir and back into the 1Km abstracted channel allowed salmon up to the weir. I was informed by one angler, but hasten to add that I cannot substantiate this to the committee, that during the long period of that summer when the turbine was operational and apart from the limited period when it was actually broken, Mr Keys, project director, who the study asserts carried out most of the work, pleaded with the developer to shut down the turbine and allow some fish upstream. Indeed I noted that some of the salmon caught by locals during that season and they were few in number, including those I caught and returned myself, were damaged and torn underneath, which I assume was caused by trying to scrape their way through the practically dry channel from tailrace exit of the Randalstown hydro, to the weir almost 1Km upstream when the hydro-electric plant was operational, nor did I encounter any of the monitoring team at Harryville weir at any time. The reports of the monitoring study into the 1998 season speak of volumes of salmon caught, such that, quote "some anglers want a limit to the daily limit on the numbers of fish that can be taken on the Maine system." I am totally in agreement on limiting the number of fish taken, in the interests of conservation and have long practised catch and return and advocated its promotion, with little interest I might add from the Fishery Division of the former D.A.N.I. However if one is not acquainted with the facts, one would assume that in the 1998 season, it was the volumes of fish taken which resulted in that call for limits to be set on the river Maine system. That committee, was not the case. The 1998 season was better one on the river Maine than before or subsequently, due to factors unrelated to the previous years operation of the hydro-electric plants but not one that could be held up as an indication of a prolific fishery in any scientific interpretation of the term. The reason for the proposal for limits to be set, was the number of salmon taken which were blackened and full of ripe spawn, entirely due to their delay in freshwater, a delay in which, in my opinion, the operation of the hydro-electric plant at Randalstown played a significant part. Indeed one business man, who is a family friend, complained to me in October of that year that he "hunted one individual" who appeared in his premises offering for sale two salmon in a fertiliser bag in which the eggs had trickled out from the blackened individuals and lay in the bottom.

The report also makes assertions on the eventual destination of fish which "hole up in the Shanes Castle Estate stretch" and draws conclusions as to their eventual destination in the river system. I ask the committee to consider what scientific evidence this assumption is based on. For example, how would any member of the monitoring team, allegedly observing a salmon passing Randalstown weir, draw any conclusion as to its eventual destination. It is true that in other countries, where I might add, the management of fisheries is on a rather more scientific basis, experiments are regularly conducted into salmon migration, by capturing salmon and releasing them with a small radio transmitter placed internally, which incidentally cause the fish no harm. Such experiments have yielded satisfactory results but no such experiments were conducted during the monitoring study and it would be an interesting exercise for the committee to enquire if the Fishery Division or members of the monitoring study, were aware of these studies, or that the technology existed to conduct them. On the subject of stock density the monitoring study states in Appendix 6 page 57, quote "visual counts of upstream passage at the Randalstown Weir and the Benburb Weirs indicates at least five times more upstream migrants ran the Maine than the Blackwater system. Redd counts on both rivers substantiated this difference". If one considers that quoted redd counts during the study period year of 1997 on the Blackwater were "64 large redds" and extrapolate for the Maine on the alleged multiplication factor of 5 we would expect 320 redds noted on the Maine during that same period. The official F.C.B. bailiff count for the Maine, period, 1997-1998 is 8. If we were therefore, to draw assumptions based on the observed salmon migration on the Maine, and extrapolate redd counts from that observed figure, we would have a productivity on the river Maine far outstripping that of the river Spey in Scotland or any other famous salmon fishery, a clear warning I would have thought, of the inherent dangers in relying on "observations" and assumptions.

Recommended Reading:

Evolution and Application of Instream Flow Methodologies to Small Hydropower Developments: An overview of the Issues; E Woody Trihey and Claire B Stalnaker.

The Equity of Distribution of Costs and Benefits in New England Anadromous Fish Programs; Anne L. Warner.

"Need" for Small Hydro in an Environmental Context: Three case studies; David C Campbell. [This is an excellent paper and recommended reading for the committee, although I have doubts that the issues could be understood by those in charge of our fisheries in Northern Ireland]

Case Study: Determining Instream Flow Requirements for The Arbuckle Mountain Hydro-electric project; Richard C Hunn.

Use of Empirically Derived Habitat Suitability Curves to Determine Potential Impacts of a Small Hydropower Development; William J Laher.

All the above papers, widely accepted by those competent in the fishery management field, are excellent recommended reading for committee members and can be supplied to the committee on request.


Of all matters guaranteed to raise passions these are probably the most contentious. The ultimate aim must be to avoid, in the case of out migrating juveniles, being sucked into the turbine head and resulting mortality and in the case of adults returning upstream, delay and access to the out fall and entrapment Traditionally, screens of a variety of types have been used and depending on the type, with some degree of success although in Northern Ireland, before and after the introduction of hydro-electric power generation, it was a rarity indeed to find any water abstractor fulfilling his legal obligations in this respect and the fact that many vested interests have escaped prosecution, historically and presently, for such offences, has caused some of those concerned about the proper protection of fisheries, to voice concern. [see. Insert 1, An overview of water abstraction practices, Plates 1-3 with descriptions of some of the practices taking place historically in Northern Ireland. It must be said however, that no matter how effective the screening process, some damage must be expected. It is widely accepted that, even with the best practices, the damage is compounded, where a number of plants are licensed on individual river systems and sensible commissioning agencies, in those countries concerned about the effects of fisheries, have always set strict limits. I find it simply appalling that, particularly at Benburb, where a number of plants were licensed together, that aspect was never investigated or indeed discussed in the Monitoring Study. Indeed and despite the poverty of evidence that any realistic generation capacity can be attained, there is much mention made in the Hydro Monitoring Study of future developments, which leads me to believe that many promises have been made, historically and during the period when the New Northern Ireland Assembly was in suspension, that the Committee may have some difficulty in challenging. [See Monitoring Study, Appraisal and regulation of future hydro-electric developments sections 6.1, 6.71, 6.8 and 6.1.0.]

Hydro-electric power generation is always a compromise between the need, or in Northern Ireland's case, with the low generation rating of many of the plants, the amount of electricity and the future protection of fisheries. Indeed the methods employed to screen off juveniles and return them safely to the river, reflect this compromise. The process by which juveniles migrating downstream are drawn into races and ultimately the turbines, is called entrapment. Of course juveniles are placed at risk, not only at sites where water is drawn off for electricity generation, but also where it is drawn off for other enterprises like factory processing [see again Insert 1: plates 1-3] and this has been an aspect where little effective control has been exercised historically in Northern Ireland, which in my opinion and that of others, is one of the prime reasons why salmon stocks have slumped so dramatically during the period of direct rule.


In plate 1 overleaf, an abstraction site on the river Inver in Larne, operated by a trout farmer and former executive committee member of the Fishery Conservancy Board for Northern Ireland, one can see that no grilles are in place on which any screens could be fitted, that would prevent juveniles gaining access to the farm and being eaten by his commercial rainbow trout. In fact the dilapidated nature of the site leaves much to be desired. The trout farmer operates this site, it is believed, under a similar "exemption" to that which was issued by the Fishery Division of the former D.A.N.I. in respect of his establishment on the river Maine, the operation of which resulted in a long running court case, the outcome of which I have reported to the Attorney General.

In plate 2 one can see a typical tailrace exit in Northern Ireland. This one is on a raceway used for factory purposes on the Kellswater river in County Antrim. Committee members should note the exit grilles lying on the ground with the ivy growing through them and perhaps agree with me that many years have elapsed since they were last in place.

In plate 3, the headrace of the establishment in plate 2, is included as an example of what the Fishery Division of the former D.A.N.I. considers is proper protection in respect of preventing juveniles being drawn into the headrace and death. If the Committee would inquire, I believe that it will find that an "exemption" from the relevant sections of the Fisheries Act, is also in place at this site. In my opinion, the Committee could do no worse than question the individual who issued the exemption in respect of the trout farm on the Inver and the factory on the Kellswater, on behalf of the former D.A.N.I.

Migrating juveniles are damaged or killed, in passage through turbines, by two effects, the pressure gradient of the head or by direct contact with the blades. Some turbine manufacturers have claimed that their particular turbine causes little in the way of damage during passage but these claims can be discounted. The sole manufacturer of turbine equipment in Northern Ireland, who incidentally has plans for the future in the generation field, is rumoured to fall into this category. Documentary and confidentially obtained evidence of those future generating plans can be made available to the Committee. Of note in this respect is section 6.9 closing remarks, paragraph 3 of the Hydro-monitoring Study "this work might be undertaken by turbine manufacturers, research companies or universities and funded by the industry or EU grants". It is my opinion and I feel I must make it available to the Committee, that plans have been made behind the scenes and promises given, that the Committee is unaware of, funded probably, as is generally the case in NI by the EU taxpayer. With that in mind it is vital, that my experiences during the period 1994-1998, made available to this Committee and an essential flavour to events in the background, are thoroughly studied in conjunction with this critical appraisal and the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd report.

Of all the various methods of screening migrating juveniles from intakes, louvre and mesh screens are the ones most likely to be adopted, in the context of small scale hydro-electric plants, which is essentially what these developments are in Northern Ireland. Attention must be focussed on preventing entrapment and juveniles gaining access to the headrace and eventually the turbine and to divert them to the river with the minimum of damage. Both types of screens have their disadvantages, both in the aspect of proper fishery protection and from the developer's perspective. What is not evaluated in depth, if it is mentioned at all, in the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd Study Report, is the reason why the subject of screens is so contentious. Screens cut down flow to the generating head and all over the world disputes have arisen because, particularly with regards hydro-electric power generation, developers have been reluctant to fit them, because of the impairment to flows and profitability. Even when they are fitted and there is no debris collected against them, there is a marked decrease in generating capacity. When they are in the condition of Appendix plate 9, Randalstown Hydro, in the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd Study, the profitability of the operation can be much reduced. Such problems have been encountered in other countries and overcome by employment casual staff to maintain the screens during the peak period of smolt migration. It is called, Committee members, "good practice". However it does incur a cost. Unfortunately in many countries, developers have taken the opportunity to remove the screens completely and for long periods, on the pretext that cleaning was necessary and take advantage of the better generating conditions in their absence. Where those conditions prevailed the fishery damage was extreme and is one of the reasons why many countries, before considering hydro-electric power generation as a realistic source of energy, carefully evaluate the amount of energy which can be usefully produced and balance this against the cost to fisheries, before making any decision about future exploration of the field. Those aspects were never even considered by the policy makers in Northern Ireland's Government departments and I believe, by the careful use of maximum peak generating ratings on individual planning applications, an attempt was made to present the field in a rosier aspect, than is indeed the case. I would remind committee members again, that Mr Patrick Haren, Chairman of N.I.E., has steadfastly refused to supply me with the generating data from the plants licensed.

In respect of screens of the louvre and mesh variety the effectiveness of both depends on positioning and the angle in which they are set against the flow. In best practices the screens are orientated to the flow rather than being perpendicular. The reason is obvious. If the screens, or permanent grille emplacements on which meshes may be fitted in Northern Ireland's case, are perpendicular to the flow [set at right angles to the edge of the headrace], juveniles are pressed against them and are damaged or killed, rather than being moved gently in a sloping direction as they would be if the grilles were at an orientated angle [see Insert 2 plates 4 to 6]. If I could quote from "Considerations in the Design of Juvenile Bypass Systems"; William S Rainey., "The primary concern with screens perpendicular to the relates to the need for fish to find their own escape route..Juvenile fish must either sustain swimming velocity until a bypass entrance is found, sometimes two or three bays away, or seek a small opening at inside or bottom seals. If an alternative is not found, fish are impinged or entrained. The unfortunate reality of screens perpendicular to the flow is that fish must be strong, innovative or lucky to survive." It appals me again to have to report to this committee, that some of the sites monitored in the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd Monitoring Study, have screens perpendicular to the flow, as members can plainly see in Insert 2 plates 4-5. and little mention is made of circumstances pertaining at these crucial sites in the Monitoring Study.

In respect of screen types there are disadvantages with both types. Mesh screens do screen off juveniles with reasonable effectiveness, if the crucial flow rate directly in front of the screens is carefully controlled, which in practice it rarely is and if they are fitted, as I mentioned previously, on attachments set an oriented angle to the flow. The major disadvantage of mesh screens, from an operator's point of view, is that they cut down flows and profitability and have to be removed for cleaning. Of course the committee might care to reflect that when they are removed, there is never anyone from the fishery agencies permanently on site to ensure they are replaced. I cannot over-emphasise to this committee, the damage which occurs when they are not in place. Turbine manufacturers and developers are however almost universally in favour of mesh screens, for reasons that in my opinion, are obvious. In the desperate run up to the licensing of the Randalstown Hydro-electric Project, I pleaded with the Fishery Division to insist on fixed louvre screens, even with their limitations, outside the headrace as a means of limiting the damage at Randalstown, to be informed by Mr Jack Allister, P.D., in the former Fishery Division [recently transferred] that, quote "in discussions with the developer mesh screens fitted inside the headrace were decided at the way forward." Of course one reason why developers favour diversion apparatus inside the headrace is that they are readily accessible for inspection. In the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd Monitoring Study, General Recommendations for hydro-electric schemes: 7 Future Developments section 7.6 the report suggests that, quote, "Screens should be angled to direct downstream migrants to the fish return bypass". This I have recommended earlier but is not an earth shattering revelation, nor are many of the recommendations, some of which I agree with and some I find disgraceful. The ones I agree with, I had already suggested to the study director at the time when he informed me that he had been promised the monitoring contract, before, I hasten to inform the committee, the tendering procedures [see personal experiences 1994-1998 in the hands of the committee] and most are sensible precautions which have been available to competent fishery managers for half a century and certainly not worth a monitoring study costing, to quote an official Oin in the former D.E.D", "around £100,000". However, in light of what I have advised about the siting of screens inside headraces, where they cannot be inspected to see if the developers are maintaining those screens in place and complying with fishery legislation, I bring to the attention of the committee, future recommendations section 7.5., of the Hydro Monitoring Study, quote, "Where intake screens are to be manually cleaned, these should be located adjacent to the power house so that they can be supervised and cleaned more readily."


In plate 4, the Harperstown site which was one of those monitored by the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery team on the river Maine, one can see that the grilles on the headrace on which the operator is obliged to fit lattices during the months of March, April and May of each year are set perpendicular to the flow [at right angles to the bank] in contrast to established opinion that they should be at an angle to steer juveniles gently to the bypass system. One can also see that the bypass is situated upstream of the grilles against proper advice. This photograph was taken in March of this year when the operator was legally obliged to fit lattices on his grilles. As one can see they are missing. When I sent the images to the Fishery Conservancy Board in order that the operator be prosecuted and not for the first time, the matter was unaccountably overlooked. Perhaps the fact that the operator was operating in March, under the terms of an "exemption" issued by the Fishery Division of the former DANI, had something to do with that oversight. Of note is the "device" set into the bypass channel to prevent escape of water and pressure to the generating head. I note that the study director of the Hydro Monitoring Study, thanked Mr Frazer, the site owner, for his kindness during the study. It would be irony indeed if Mr Frazer was one of those recommended as a "mentor" by the study director, to train new hydro-electric developers in best "practices", in my opinion.

In plate 5 one can see a hydro-electric site at Benburb operating illegally in the spring of 1998 without lattices fitted to the grilles, which are set at an incorrect angle to the flow and with concrete balustrades jutting out at the edge which would enable juveniles to escape freely to the river, if the screens were in place. You can see the mangled chicken wire screens of completely the wrong dimensions, hanging at the top right of the contraption. I can only hope that this operator is not also on the select list of mentors.

In plate 6, one can see a better angled view of the plates 2 and 8 of Appendix 10 of the Hydro Monitoring Study, which were in my opinion, carefully taken with regards position, to avoid the embarrassment of Committee members seeing the derelict nature of the site. This is what I have described as the "lavatory flushing system" of returning juveniles to the river in that they become disorientated and fall prey readily to seagulls and other predators and which cannot be recommended. You can see the bypass which is square in the base and likely to cause descaling. This type of "ejection" system is against all sound scientific and fishery advice.

I would have thought and I feel committee members may agree with me, having been made aware previously of the scandalous events at many of these sites during the monitoring period, that screens situated "adjacent to the power house", [the situation at the Randalstown site] where access is difficult for inspection, was the least favourable option.

Louvre screens, which I have mentioned earlier, are a very effective means of diverting migrating juveniles without damage. Estimates vary as to their effectiveness, ranging from 80% to well over 90%. As I have already mentioned, I implored the Fishery Division of the former D.A.N.I. to insist on lourvre screens at the Randalstown Site, although it sided with the developer and sole turbine manufacturer in the province, in opting for mesh screens. It would be ungenerous of me not to note that the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd does recommend louvre screens, for new developments. In fact before the hydro-electric development at Randalstown was approved, although the developer had his contract with N.I.E. before he applied for planning permission, the Study Director of the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd, after informing me that he had been promised the monitoring contract, asked me my opinion as to what might be needed at Randalstown, to which I replied, that louvre screens outside the headrace were imperative, to lessen the damage. The study director then asked me what louvre screens were. Louvre screens are vertical slat bars spaced at approximately 2.5 cms or 1 inch intervals or smaller spacing if required. When rigidly and permanently in place and from the river bed to the highest possible area of flow, they are extremely effective when placed outside head races and at an angle orientated to the flow [not perpendicular.] Diversion of migrating juveniles is by avoidance in the area just ahead of the lourvres and the angled nature means that they can be safely diverted to a by pass. However there are problems with lourvres, just as with mesh, in that the smaller juveniles which have trouble holding their position in higher water velocities and which are small enough to go through the aperture, can be sucked into the headrace. This applies particularly to very immature fish such as one would encounter in the upper reaches of river where nursery habitat prevails. Where juveniles are of a size as indicated in plate 15 of appendix 10 of the Hydro Monitoring Study, losses would be minimal. That particular photograph of mortalities allegedly caused at one site is, in my opinion, only the tip of an iceberg of damage caused at many of these sites, during the monitoring period. In fact the sites at Benburb were shut down this spring in an effort to limit that damage and for fear of this committee.

Where hydro-electric sites are situated well down river systems, as all licensed, if that is the proper word, under the Non Fossil Fuel Order were, louvre screens represent a cost effective and relatively safe means of avoiding entrapment. There is another draw back however. Louvre screens cut down flows and profitability and the smaller the slat gap, which reduces the risk to smaller juveniles, the larger the reduction in profitability. However if one had the future of our fisheries at heart they must be considered, outside the head races of course, where they can be inspected for any holes which might mysteriously appear in them. Turbine manufacturers and hydro-developers are not so keen on them however and neither is the Fishery Division of the former D.A.N.I. now a part of the Culture, Arts and Leisure Department. I remind the committee again of the letter to me from a former member of that fishery division, quote, "in discussions with the developer it was decided that mesh screens were the way forward."

One other matter which was mentioned in the Hydro Monitoring Study was that of downstream migration of spawned fish, kelts is the usual term. In the case of salmon kelts, only one in ten thousand return again to spawn a second time. I have never seen one and they are readily distinguishable. As yet I have talked to no one else who has. Any effort directed at their passage around plants can only be described as a moral one, as most die either before or shortly after they re-enter the ocean. The case of migratory trout is somewhat different however. They survive to spawn a number of times and are on the move downstream and at the very time, in February, March and April, as the juvenile salmon and the migrating juveniles of their own species. Unlike the salmon which is appetite suppressed in fresh water, these large trout, in the case of the Dollaghan [Lough Neagh Trout] although their numbers are declining by the year, are only too happy to gorge on the young of their own species and the salmon. It is vital therefore, that the adults and juveniles are not kept in close proximity, in an area like a head race, a further strong argument for screening to take place outside the head race and not as is recommended in section 7 future developments sub section 7.5 and particularly 6.7.1. of the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd Study, quote, "adjacent to the powerhouse". Notice recommended in 6.7.1! One vital aspect of diversion is that of the bypass channel, that is the means by which juveniles are returned to the river after diversion. It is an area which is just as important as the screening process itself and where there is ample room for a large amount of fishery damage to be done. Salmon smolts, at the stage where are ready and actually migrating to the ocean, are extremely vulnerable to scale damage, such that most competent fishery biologists agree, that even a small and what appears on the surface as insignificant amount of scale damage, can prove fatal, hours and even days after the event. The facts about scale damage and its relation to diversion have not been properly evaluated in the Hydro Monitoring Study, in my opinion. In fact if the diversion process is in any way clumsy, large mortalities may occur. The standard procedure, which is rarely used, except at Randalstown and because we fought our guts out to get it, is the pipe channel, with one proviso however and I quote again from Considerations in the Design of Juvenile Bypass Systems; William S Rainey, "juvenile outmigrants in the process of smolting [change in appearance, bodily functions, chemical composition, and behaviour which accompany the transition from fresh to salt water] are more sensitive to traumatic injuries and are extremely vulnerable to descaling . when juveniles are discharged from a pipe into receiving water, there is a delay in becoming reoriented to flow conditions. Birds, otters and other fish frequently gather at these locations and feed on juveniles during this period. The optimum discharge location is one that minimises the duration of this transition period. This is most effectively accomplished by locating the outfall below low water surface and in flowing water." Discharge conditions ranged, in the units monitored in the study, from the reasonable at Randalstown, through poor, to the deplorable. If I could draw the committee's attention to Appendix 10 plates 2 and 8 Benburb Hydro in the Ballinderrry Fish Hatchery Ltd Monitoring Study, which are photographs of the same site. If one cares to take advice from the professional opinion earlier in this paragraph and then studies in detail these two images, one may come to the conclusion, in my opinion, that the images represent a glorified lavatory flushing system but yet seemed to be acceptable to the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd.

Similarly with regards diversion channels, it is vitally important that access from the head race is suitable, in order that migrating juveniles are not stressed by delay after, hopefully, safely negotiating the screens. In appendix 10, plate 13, of the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd Monitoring Study one can see an image of the entrance to the diversion channel at the Randalstown Hydro. One might care to consider that, if this photograph was taken during the monitoring period and one was to apply the Fisheries Act rigorously in respect of fitting screens, as quoted in section 3 Consents and Statutory Agencies 3, section 3.1 Regulatory roles of statutory agencies "during the months of March, April and May, and at any other time when the fry of salmon and trout are in the river, the gratings must be covered with a wire lattice, of such dimensions as to effectively prevent the admission of fry to the watercourse." and one studies the photograph carefully one will see that there are no lattices fixed to the gratings and the study does not indicate at which date of the year the photograph was taken and if the developer was operating his plant outside or inside the stipulated period and therefore illegally or legally. In fact I can assuredly inform this committee, that on at least two periods during the Monitoring Study, the developer was cautioned by the Fishery Conservancy Board bailiff for the area, Mr William Owens, of 14 Braidvalley View, Broughshane, Ballymena. in respect of his non compliance with the relevant sections of the Fisheries Act. The prosecution files, were of course, thrown in the bin by The Fishery Conservancy Board for N.I., on the instructions of the former Department of Agriculture for N.I. in order that the Monitoring Study would not be compromised by an embarrassing court case which would have necessitated rather more critical conclusions in the Monitoring Study, of which many of the outcomes were pre-determined. In fact I had begun this critical appraisal before the Monitoring Study was printed, having made assumptions on the content and recommendations. I have to inform the committee, that unlike the first draft copy of the Monitoring Study, which was, to coin a term, . "pulled", due to the disks I sent to 108 Assembly Members, showing images of the plants operating illegally during the monitoring period, mine required little re-writing. Mr William Owens is willing to present evidence to the committee and documented, of large scale collusion with vested interests and perversion of the course of justice during his period of employment with the Fishery Conservancy Board for NI. Similarly, in response to intervention by the former D.A.N.I. in a recent court case, in support of, in my opinion, a well "stashed" vested interest, I presented to the Attorney General, a 20,000 word report of "delicate" fishery matters, including the incidents at the Randalstown Hydro site during the monitoring period, which escaped prosecution. I have been informed, reliably I believe, that in the last two weeks the developer at Randalstown, reported to the RUC, that on numerous occasions during the monitoring period, his "screens" were vandalised and thrown into the river. I find this hard to believe and am of the opinion, that he was advised to make the complaint by the former D.A.N.I., to cover the dates cited in the Attorney General's report, when he was detected operating the plant illegally during the monitoring period and for which he escaped prosecution.

The entrance "orifice" to the diversion channel, as portrayed in appendix 10, plate 3, of the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd Monitoring Study, raises another contentious issue. Where diversion channels are used, precious water is lost and financial profit, from the lack of generating head pressure, to the developer. I promised to be honest in this critical appraisal and I will, by admitting that a topic like this is largely a matter of negotiation, in most countries, before commissioning. It is a balance and the size of the outlet will reflect the bargaining power of the opposing sides. I believe that fact speaks volumes, when reflecting on all the contentious issues involved in the field. I ask the committee to look at the size of the outlet pipe to the discharge channel at Randalstown and reflect on the bargaining power of both sides in the run up to the licensing of the Randalstown Plant. If any of the committee would like to visit the Randalstown plant and measure the outlet, every c.m. of those dimensions, reflected on a battle by Danny Brown and myself, to win some concessions and try to protect the river Maine. Other sites were not so lucky. It is true, that no matter the size of the outlet, within reasonable limitations, the migrating juveniles will eventually find it but it is the trauma involved and expenditure of energy which has to be considered. I am sure the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd, has documentary video evidence of juveniles finding the escape outlet but that is not the point. It is the overall effectiveness of the measures which is the yard stick. Video evidence can present a very favourable picture but is overall effectiveness again and well constructed field studies, over a scientifically approved time scale, which presents that full picture. The other matter of interest, with regards juvenile bypass systems and especially the entrance from the screening area, adjacent to the actual screens, is that of available light. In the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd Monitoring Study, it is stated in the text accompanying Randalstown Hydro plate 13 in Appendix 10, quote "Attraction to the pass was improved when the approach to the pass was covered to create shade". Also in the study, General Recommendations for hydro-electric schemes, section 7, Future Developments, page 4, sub-section 7.1, Bypass and return systems, quote, "A covered area to create shade at the approach to a bypass is recommended so that fish are naturally attracted to the mouth of the bypass." I have to inform members of this committee, that I can find no one else who will confirm this behaviour on the part of migrating juveniles and on what scientific basis the recommendation is made. Indeed in "Considerations in the Design of Juvenile Bypass Systems; William S Rainey, Mr Rainey says, quote "Juvenile fish are more inclined to be damaged when visibility is low. Fish contact with stationary objects usually relates to turbulence, low visibility or both." Also "Many bypasses are now being designed in the North West [1985] which are open topped at, and immediately downstream of, the entrance and minimises the avoidance behaviour due to darkness". I believe these comments are accurate.

The screening of outfalls to prevent ingress by returning adult fish is an area just as contentious as that of downstream migrants. The traditional method for outfalls associated with water abstraction sites in Northern Ireland has been iron grilles which are very effective and in my opinion to be preferred to the painful, electrical shocking method which is recommended in the report, with all its risks for humans and children , who might be wading in the vicinity of the outfall in low water, see page 4 Outfall barriers [section 59] of the Hydro Monitoring Study, also page 48 General Recommendations for hydro-electric schemes 6 electrical barriers, all sections. One would wonder with all the hazards associated with the electrical barrier method, why it is recommended as a means of preventing returning adults from gaining access to the generating head. It is the type of screening which was adopted at the Randalstown site and in my opinion this type of screening is totally unreliable. If one studies the photograph of the front cover of this critical summary one will see the "state" of the electrical field diversion at Randalstown during much of the critical period of the monitoring study. Most of its centre section is missing! If committee members care to turn to page 29, 4.4.2. Review of upstream migration at Randalstown, the electrical barrier, in the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd Monitoring Study, quote "During the study period, two major alterations were made to the barrier and the energising system. As part of the study period, vertical metal tubes were suspended from two heavy cables. This mounting was replaced by a solid steel gantry. Also a new energising unit was installed powered by a new cable carrying mains supply from the powerhouse. Voltage testing and experiments, using live hatchery reared trout of various sizes, showed the resultant installation to be safe and effective." You can see on the front cover the "resultant" safe and effective installation. It appals me that the mains supply is being run from the powerhouse to this dilapidated contraption. The developer also was in breach of fishery legislation during the study period by operating the plant when the electrical field, which was part of his planning consent and "exemption" from the Fishery Division of the former D.A.N.I, was totally ineffective. Committee members may wish to ponder where the monitoring team was while these infringements were taking place. The other appalling fact is this. I reported these infringements to the Fishery Conservancy Board, with photographic evidence, as did the Bailiff on the river system and just as with the infringements in respect of the juvenile screens, the files were thrown in the bin, under pressure from the former D.A.N.I., in my opinion.

One would wonder, with the inherent unreliability of electrical screens, their dangers and the cost incurred in their construction and installation, why they were ever recommended in the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd Monitoring Study at all. One would have expected developers and especially the sole turbine manufacturer in the province, who can certainly roar in my opinion, to be enraged at the cost involved in this recommendation, as he had plans for many sites of his own in the confidential proposals in my possession, irrespective of the acceptance or non acceptance of the concept of compound damage.

To satisfactorily explain why there was so much willingness to accept that cost, as at Randalstown, one has to look at the previous experiences of water abstraction in Northern Ireland and the limited number of hydro-plants which were operational before the N.F.F.O. contracts were handed out, of which the Harperstown plant at Cullybackey, one of those monitored, featured. I have to say now, that I would expect that much of this is new to the committee, as fishery damage in the past was always well hidden up and offenders protected from prosecution. As I said earlier, iron grilles were the only requirement of the Act, unless an "exemption" was offered but grilles presented a problem at sites where water was abstracted for motive power. If any fish made there way into the turbine and were minced, their remains would be washed down the tailrace and become lodged in the grille, where they would remain until removed, as evidence of the slaughter. Water abstractors as a result, are equally reluctant to fit grilles on tailraces for this reason, as they are on the headraces for the reason of flow impediment and diminished profitability. On one occasion at a plant used for motive power, anglers suffered the ignominy of having to crawl up the tailrace channel and remove the chopped up remains of dead salmon before the bailiff came along. The water abstractor also owned their fishing rights. From a developers perspective therefore, a clear flow down and out of the tailrace exit is preferred and as always in Northern Ireland, where the possibility of hiding up future illegalities is concerned .. money can be found. In any event the fitting of exit grilles was a rarity in Northern Ireland in the past and today as one can see in Insert 1, plate 3 of this critical appraisal.


It would be impossible to compile this critical appraisal and keep the committee properly informed, if I did not make available the historic problems associated with adult salmon migration on the tributaries of Lough Neagh and the lower Bann, for every salmon destined for the river Maine and Blackwater, where the monitored sites lie, must gain access to those river systems by the tortuous route of the lower Bann, Lough Beg and Lough Neagh. In the early sixties almost 100,000 salmon ran the lower Bann making it Europe's premier salmon river. Last year, committee members and despite the comments in the Monitoring Study, that figure had dropped to well under 10,000. If one considers that the fish are netted and poached on their way to the tributary rivers of Lough Neagh and the survivors of that figure of well under ten thousand are then divided among all the Lough's rivers, one realises the challenge which faces this Committee and its Minister to produce an asset which can contribute, in the way of tourism revenue, to the common good. It is irony indeed, that last year's disastrous run came four years after the first projects financed with the initial tranche of European funding approved by the former D.A.N.I., came on line and at a period when we would have expected to see dramatic improvement from the investment. If the committee cares to study Insert 4 and plates 10-13 of this report, it might agree with me, that the European taxpayer and the people of Northern Ireland, got rather less than good value for that investment.

If I could ask committee members to turn back to page 10 of this appraisal and not the comment I quoted from the Hydro Monitoring Study, "mention of salmon caught at Kells and Cullybackey in June". While the reports are, like most of the fishery related observations in the study, completely unverified, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that it happened. In the words of the famous Vanessa Williams song, Save The Best For Last, "Sometimes the sun goes round the moon .. sometimes the snow comes down in June". The experience of the last twenty years are however, that salmon arrive later in our rivers now than at any time in the past. You will note in the Monitoring Study, that reports of salmon catches during the study period time, which are unsubstantiated and which I do not believe incidentally, invariably relate to "late" fish and in some cases it is admitted that they were caught in the last month of the official angling season, which is usually the case in Northern Ireland. Those fish, which incidentally should be returned in many instances as they are blackened and on the verge of spawning, are of no economic benefit to Northern Ireland's angling estate or any future tourism drive, although it is vital that they are protected and allowed to spawn. The economics are simple committee; we cannot attract anglers from overseas to fish for blackened fish in October. All the European funding which was spent on our rivers up to the period when accountability was restored and in my opinion not wisely in most instances, was wasted until the problems of impediments to upstream migration are solved, which they will not be until the question of flow rates on the lower Bann and the influence there of the private fishery, Bann Systems Ltd, is tackled and in conjunction with Northern Ireland's unique position of not having any proper water abstraction laws or licensing system. It was against this background that the government departments launched this hydro-electric assault in an uncontrolled fashion and despite prior warnings from myself and others of the practical problems which are now self evident to this committee.

It is the almost universal experience of anglers resident on rivers in the Lough Neagh basin, that even in years when river flows are maintained by adequate rainfall, our returning salmon are never there in any numbers until early August if at all.

The legislatory frame work under which water is abstracted is this, and it is rather glossed over, in my opinion, in the Monitoring Study, page 26, 4.3.1. Angling on the Maine 1997 and 1998, third paragraph, quote "It was at that time when it became obvious that upstream migrants need an effective fish pass and more water than 2.78 cumecs in the compensation channel [the river!] when floods occur outside the weekend closure period". I would have thought that was patently obvious. The 2.78 cumecs figure is all that the developers, under archaic water abstraction, are legally obliged to leave in the river, below their abstraction point. Basically it amounts to this. A water abstractor can take 85% of the river and leave the stretch down to the tailrace almost dry. I have to say to this committee, that for almost a year before the first plant was licensed, I and others, tried to make the Fishery Division of the former D.A.N.I., the Energy Policy Division of the Department of Economic Development and the study director of the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd, who was salaried by the D.A.N.I. out of Peace and Reconciliation funds at the time, aware of this fact and of the ruin facing fisheries in Northern Ireland if this field was explored in the absence of just water abstraction legislation. Here is what I told them and I am sure committee members will fully understand what they felt unable to.

If at Randalstown, the developer takes 85% of the river and the plant there is capable of taking it all, diverts it down his headrace to the exit almost a mile downstream, the salmon will wait at the tailrace exit and will not move upstream. You can shock them until they are in agony but they will not move upstream. They think, committee member, that the flow coming out of the tailrace exit .. is the river! I would have thought a child at primary school could have understood this and I am sure you agree with me. Despite my efforts over the best part of a year up to the licensing of the Randalstown plant, those responsible in the former D.A.N.I., the D.E.D. and the study director of the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd, who by that time had been promised his monitoring contract and before the alleged tendering, refused to listen to any argument I put forward. Having been forced to accept, what they knew was the truth from the outset, the Monitoring Team began at Randalstown, as is confirmed in the study, a series of trials to see what compensation flows were necessary to try to move fish from the tailrace up to the weir, see the Monitoring Study, page 28, Residual Flow and Flow Management, quote, "With the approval of the operator, an operational protocol for a seasonal automated regime, [they allegedly let some water over the weir] to be used for a trial period, was drafted by the monitoring team and submitted to the former D.A.N.I. for approval. A variation of the existing exemption was duly issued. The protocol made provisions for compensating the operator for his loss of output in accommodating fish passage, by removing his obligation to cease generation at specified weekend closures". I will simplify the waffle for the committee, by the way I believe I recognise some of the grammar, to make it understandable to the layman.

The legislation at that time and historically, required water abstractors to close their operations down between the period of 6 pm on Friday to 6 am on Monday at each weekend. The closure was deemed necessary because, where an abstractor was taking too much water, as most of them were in Northern Ireland, salmon were delayed at out falls. In practice in Northern Ireland no one paid a blind bit of notice to the legislation but the fear was on some of the developers and particularly a turbine manufacturer in the province, that if the field came under scrutiny because of the N.F.F.O., that situation might no longer apply. It was important for profitability and because his turbine was overpriced, in my opinion, that the weekend closure was "done away with" by one means or another. On the river Maine and the river Blackwater an exemption was issued by the D.A.N.I. to allow the developers to run at the weekend in return for reduced capacity during the rest of the week to allow salmon to make progress past the obstructions. Of course on the Maine, when the developer had secured his "exemption", he promptly took all the water he physically could at the weekend .. and through the week as well! A similar situation developed on the Blackwater, which Tommy Conlon reported to the Newsletter and which was covered by Dan Kinney. Unfortunately Tommy paid the price for the disclosure but I will come to that later.

On page 5 of the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd Monitoring Study, Flow regulations [under planning regulations] it is stated, quote, "Since it would be unreasonable to expect local planning officers to determine the optimum of residual flow in the natural channel [they might be trustworthy in my opinion!] appropriate advice should be sought from DCAL Inland Fisheries Branch. There is a need for legislation regulating water abstraction. Any future legislation should address more adequately the subject. However, in the absence of such legislation the environmental impact approach, should be adopted in future proposals". Again for the benefit of the committee I will cut through the waffle. At this point I would like to say that, in my opinion, many of the important conclusions in the Monitoring Study, were arrived at before the study began and insisted upon by untrustworthy officials in Northern Ireland's government departments and, again in my opinion, this is probably the most important one.

To return to those archaic and very damaging water abstraction laws, or lack of them, for a number of years I and others had lobbied to have the situation reversed and eventually with a measure of success. As a result of the pressure the D.O.E. drew up proposals, with advice from the D.A.N.I., I might add, for a revision of the Water Act 1975. It transpired that a licensing system had been in operation on the mainland for almost twenty five years whereby those who discharged effluent to our waterways or abstracted water were probably licensed and monitored. They were also subject to fixed charges on a scale according to the level of water they abstracted or the toxicity of their discharges. The power brokers in Northern Ireland's government departments were ordered to bring in a similar scheme. Of course they did not, mostly because the D.O.E. were largely unaware who was discharging to our rivers or what and the D.A.N.I. did not want to financially embarrass the trout farmers in the province, and one in particular. My estimation of the revenue lost to Northern Ireland's river from the scandal is 18m., over the period when the information that would have enabled the Orders in Council to be drawn up, was withheld. I hasten to add that the Non Fossil Fuel Order in Council was not delayed in any way. Much preparation had been made for the time when it got the assent.

Eventually however the D.O.E. brought out the proposals, some of which seemed reasonable enough, except that there was no obligation for a discharger to outline the content of his discharge and place it on a public register, if he could prove to the D.O.E. that in doing so he would place himself in a less competitive position by the declaration, which would mean that, by the time the exemption clause was properly abused, as exemptions always are in Northern Ireland, no-one would be declaring any contents. I was worried about the water abstraction licensing system proposals however, as again on the surface they seemed reasonable enough, except that the charges were about one tenth of what they should have been. I read and re-read the sections and eventually found the part I was looking for, quote, "it is proposed that small scale hydro-electric developers [you know who!] and trout farmers [you know who!] should be exempt from the water abstraction licensing system. If I could quote again from the section in the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd Study, page 5, Flow Regulations [under planning regulations] and quote, "However in the absence of such legislation the environmental impact approach, should be adopted in future proposals". Perhaps the committee would like to know who drew up the environmental impact statement for the contraption on our river Maine. It was Mr Terry Maguire, Turbine Manufacturer, of New Mills Hydro and in preparation for retirement to the Bahamas, New Mills Hydro-Generation Ltd, Carrickfergus.

If I could turn to the recommendations with regards salmon migration upstream at Randalstown in the Hydro Monitoring Study.4.1 Review of upstream migration at Randalstown The Fish Pass, quote, "The single existing fish pass is inadequate [there was no fish pass ever at Randalstown!] and flow conditions across the weir under a wide range of flows exposed running fish to poaching stress or and injury. While the problem could be eased by the river works suggested above, there is an urgent need for at least one efficient and well located fish pass and possibly a second. At the time of going to print, this recommendation is in the process of being implemented". Firstly I would like to inform the committee that fish passes are expensive and the onus is on the operators to provide them at weirs. One would wonder at a recommendation to install two at the same weir, which is nonsense as a scientific suggestion as you are effectively dividing up precious flows. However the Denil prefabricated fish passes were purchased by the D.A.N.I. in 1995 with money which, was in my opinion, stolen from the first tranche of European Peace and Reconciliation funding and were waiting in a shed for the opportunity provided by the study to place them in weirs, in lieu of proper flows and shut down periods. Many of the sites do not require fish passes. Randalstown never had or needed a fish pass. What is required is proper water abstraction legislation and trustworthy officials. I made the points about the fish passes being unnecessary, to the study director in 1995 when he informed me "he had been promised the job" and also advised him that a shut down period from the beginning of the third week of June until the end of the second week of September, would serve our fisheries better. He agreed wholeheartedly with me at the time. Circumstances since then however, have seemingly conspired to change his mind somewhat. The other matter which we discussed at length, at that particular time, was the recommendations on page 37, 5.2.1, Randalstown Hydro, of the Monitoring Study, quote, "River works are recommended in the natural channel [river] from the mouth of the tail race up to the weir, to improve the attraction of fish from below the outfall and to facilitate their passage upriver to the weir, the outline recommendations are then laid out in the rest of the paragraph". The study director first made these suggestions to me in 1995 before he officially secured his monitoring contract, and at a time when the D.A.N.I. was trying desperately to save it collective skin and asked me as to my opinion. I told him that any manipulation of the channel was useless when almost the whole river was coming out the tailrace and that during the time when the Old Bleach factory was abstracting water at the same site, in an operation only slightly less damaging than the present one, similar measures had been tried and failed. Again I would remark to the committee, that a contract of "around £100,000" for a monitoring study is hardly money well spent, in my opinion, when the outcome of the final report was largely determined before the alleged tendering process for the contract.

Mention is made in the Monitoring Study of the fish pass installation at Randalstown, which went ahead I would remind this committee, before it had an opportunity to decide on the recommendations, or anyone else for that matter. The farce of the fish pass installation is covered in Insert 3, plates 7-9 of this critical appraisal.


At the evening planned by the D.E.T.I. to sell the study findings, the Study Director said that during experiments at Randalstown weir he noticed that salmon were having difficulty negotiating it when a large amount of water was coming over. He then asked Antony Oneil to "open up his turbine and draw off more water", when he was "amazed to find" that the fish made it up easier and thus the potential for poaching was reduced. I find this statement absolutely incredible and in the face of all known experience of Randalstown weir. If I were a cynic, I would believe that we are being prepared for a flow regime massively in favour of the developer, whoever he may be.


In plate 7 overleaf one can see the installation of the base for the Denil fish pass, purchased with money extracted from the Peace and Reconciliation Fund. The operation was carried out in the autumn of 1999 and entailed diverting the whole river through the plant to dry out the weir, an operation which the developer has had plenty of practice in previously. In this case, what late running salmon we had in what was a poor year, were trapped in the stagnant pools and unable to move upstream and in this nothing differed much from other occasions. Competent fishery officers with the Central Fisheries Board in the South were appalled at the ineptitude of those involved, when they saw the complete set of photographs. You can see by the tiny fish pass base when compared to the size of the weir, that those involved in the field have been promised that any laws on water abstraction will not apply in the generation game, which in my opinion, is why the Denil type fish pass was purchased with money stolen from the fund.

In plate 8 you can see by the new concrete addition, as in plate 6, that the owner took advantage and quite illegally I would imagine, of the works and raised the height of the weir on the pretext of strengthening it and with the collusion of those involved. In reality he was trying to increase the flows to the generating head and offset any tiny amount of water that might be released through the fish pass. The text with plate 14, appendix 10 of the Monitoring Study implies that the new fish pass ."should greatly reduce poaching opportunities", which contradicts all known observations, in that when a fish pass is installed at a weir where flows are restricted by abstraction, there is little water escaping over the rest of it other than through the pass, the fish movement is therefore predictable and the salmon are easily removed from the top outlet. One can also see the poachers in the photograph taken by a study team member. The individuals' identities are known and the matter was reported to the Fishery Conservancy Board but the prosecution file was mislaid to save the embarrassment of the monitoring team and the government departments.

In plate 9 the tailrace from the big Kaplan turbine down to the tailrace exit with its missing section of "electrical blocking apparatus", is visible. This tailrace can take the whole of the river Maine and indeed has to. If I could quote the words of the developer Antony Oneil to an angler at Randalstown "that bastard [Maguire the sole turbine manufacturer] took me for a million and I never even got a Christmas card out of him". Committee members might care to reflect that a million pounds was half the total amount of Peace and Reconciliation funding handed out in the first tranche of spending, allegedly for our rivers, after the DANI took its cut. Is it any wonder, with the tiny amount of electricity to be generated on Ulster's drainage ravaged rivers, why those knowledgeable are of the opinion that the field was explored here to sell generating equipment.


Committee members will be aware by now, of the rather large amount of funding, secured from the Peace and Reconciliation Settlement, which, quite amazingly in my opinion, came on line at almost the same time as the first hydro-electric plant was licensed. The subject is covered in my experiences in the nineties, which accompanies this critical appraisal but as little mention is made in the Hydro-Monitoring study as to the development work being done, prior and during the study, I was of the opinion that the Committee would like to be properly and substantively advised on this subject. Although this is a critical appraisal of the Hydro-electric Monitoring Study, I feel the Committee must be aware of matters pertaining to the state of our fisheries during recent years as any mitigation of the damage from the plants licensed, will depend largely on the standard of fishery developments as, in my opinion, little relief will come from any modified hydro-electric operating regimes as suggested in the study.

Members are aware that the D.A.N.I. appropriated £2m from the first tranche of European Funding, spent some itself and then asked angling clubs and other individuals to submit projects. As expected, some organisations sprang up overnight, to take advantage of the money. The Study Director involved in the Hydro Monitoring Study was salaried to the former D.A.N.I., as a facilitator, for two years up to and I believe, including the time, when he was also contracted to carry out the Monitoring Study, to advise the former D.A.N.I., on the suitability of schemes. To this end, Mr Newell McCreight, development officer with the Ulster Angling Federation and a director of that organisation, as is the Monitoring Study director, was also salaried by the former D.A.N.I. out of the Peace and Reconciliation Fund, to act as a facilitator. I find it quite incredible that, if the Fishery Division of the former D.A.N.I. was acquainted in any way with fishery matters in Northern Ireland, it had to salary two members of what is supposedly an independent lobby group, to advise it on the suitability of angling development schemes and especially, in my opinion, as the Monitoring Study director is also a director of a company with a financial interest in how the schemes would be developed and had previously been awarded finance from government to develop a "smolt diversion apparatus", despite the fact that many reputable designs are on the market, and the study director has no fishery qualifications or experience in the hydro-electric field.

The productivity of fisheries is the vital question to be considered before any exploration of the hydro-electric field. It is accepted that, even with limited development of hydro-electricity and ideal fishery protection circumstances at sites, there will be damage. In Iceland, with world famous salmon fisheries, which bring countless numbers of visiting anglers and huge revenue on which the people there depend, that acceptance of damage is formalised by insisting on ruthless protection measures at any development and an exorbitant financial bounty is demanded by the authorities, "up front", as they say, to counteract that future damage. Indeed, those in the fishery field in Iceland have confirmed to me, that it was only the scarcity of natural resources there, which forced those involved in the supply of energy to distant settlements, to even consider hydro-electric power generation, so proud were the Icelanders of their salmon fisheries and even with the best of protection measures and scrupulous inspections, it is still an uneasy and limited acceptance. If the "bounty" from the developers and sole turbine manufacturer in Northern Ireland, was the money secured with remarkable and timely co-incidence from the Peace and Reconciliation Fund, I ask committee members to look at Insert 4, plates 10-13 and consider if the funding on the river Blackwater would in any way counteract the damage, even with proper fishery protection measures. I would remind committee members, that two members of the Ulster Angling Federation, one of them the Study Director of the Hydro-electric Monitoring Study, were salaried to the former D.A.N.I. as facilitors, to advise on the suitability of projects and the former D.A.N.I. approved the funding and checked that the work was satisfactorily completed, although from a distance I would imagine, as I am of the opinion that senior members of the D.A.N.I., were unaware where our rivers were. Indeed on one occasion, when I threatened to withdraw support for the D.A.N.I. on behalf of our angling association, The Lough Neagh and Maine System Game Angling Association, because of its failure to understand the issues involved in the licensing of the Randalstown hydro-electric contraption and its historic and present day support for and collusion with, vested interests, I received a letter from the deputy chief fishery officer, Mr Louis Reford, [see experiences in the nineties] saying that he would inform angling clubs affiliated to our association of my decision, if I would supply him with the names and those of the club officials, a request I refused, as it would have exposed those officials to intolerable pressure, in my opinion.

The question of the European Funding has occupied my mind somewhat, in preparation for compiling this material for the committee. Much of it was wasted of course, as one would have expected in the hands of the former D.A.N.I., which always had one eye on calming dissent and supporting those, who by their influence could assist in that respect but I would freely admit that some, while realising the iniquities of the present regime, tried their very best within the constraints of that regime, to lay some sort of foundation for the time when accountability would be restored and one organisation in particular, broke its back, to coin a phrase, to meet those ends. The Larne Angling Club [not affiliated to the Ulster Angling Federation], supported by the efforts of the editor of Angling Ireland and with Peace and Reconciliation Funding, has worked miracles on the Inver river and turned it into an asset of which the committee would be proud, in preparation for that long awaited day. However, that outcome was only made possible through the difficult task of confronting the vested interests who were destroying the river, with frequent and disregarded breaches of legislation and the corrupt officials in the government departments who supported them. I doubt if, on other river systems where other, more calming, influences were at work, that courage was ever found. Indeed it is the opinion of those who confide in me now, with the benefit of hindsight, that the timely securing of Peace and Reconciliation funding by the former D.A.N.I. and at the last minute which was legally acceptable by the E.E.U., was directly related to the assault on our rivers by the vested interests in the hydro-electric field and their supporters in Northern Ireland's government departments. I have to say to the committee now, that the funding of fishery projects generally, under the Salmonoid Enhancement Scheme of the former D.A.N.I. and while accepting that some minimal good may come from the scheme, has set the cause of those who have lobbied for just and modern legislation to protect our rivers and honest officials to enforce that legislation, back a decade. Whilst the break up of the Lough Neagh and Maine System Game Angling Association in 1995, at the hands of the former D.A.N.I. and with the assistance of two members of the Ulster Angling Federation, was long predicted and reluctantly accepted by anglers in the province at the time, it was no less soul destroying for that. However, while remaining bitter to some extent about the treachery involved at the time, I have, in the years since its demise, accepted that it will never return and that my efforts would be better directed to establishing a regime in fisheries here, that would command a measure of common support in the future and hopefully, reflect the wishes of anglers in the area and this Committee, that our asset should be developed to serve the common good.

Plates 10-13, photographs of fishery development work allegedly carried out on the river Blackwater and the disgraceful conditions at the hydro-electric sites on the river Blackwater, displayed in this critical appraisal and during the period of the Monitoring Study, were supplied and by virtue of his immense courage, by Mr Tommy Conlon, angling correspondent with the Tyrone Times and my friend.



In plates 10 and 11 we see examples of what have been called "plank" groynes or oxygenating features, of which there are many examples on the Blackwater river, or where, as Tommy Conlon has advised me that the first flood took most of them to the lough. Cost to the EEU, £600 each! My estimate for material and labour, £15 maximum. By the way, it would be interesting to know if any individual associated with the fishery regime in the past, ever received a development grant for "plank" groynes.

In plate 12 one can see an example of a "rock" groyne. Rock groynes are better than plank groynes as wood floats but in this case the rocks are not secured to the bank and as Tommy Conlon confirms even rocks will move. In this case the rocks are dumped. Cost to the EEU, £600 EACH.

Plate 13, is a classic example of a stile, of which there are many examples now on the Blackwater as on other rivers in Northern Ireland thanks to the Peace and Reconciliation Fund. Good, safe, solid job, unless you weigh over four stones.



The Hydro-electric Monitoring Study, on which this critical appraisal is based, was commissioned by government bodies in Northern Ireland and by Northern Electricity, with terms of reference at complete variance to all known scientific facts about the lengths of the life cycles of fish which the study, by its recommendations, sought to protect. The compilation of data left much to be desired, in that the largely, observational approach was accepted as competent methodology, when established and competent scientific opinion is universally agreed that it is not. The study relied, in most instances, on witness evidence and reports which are unsubstantiated and on which no firm conclusions can therefore be usefully drawn. The use of photographic evidence of operating regimes at the selected sites under study, calls into question the integrity of some involved in the study, in the opinion of the author of this critical appraisal, in that direct photographic evidence exists and has been submitted, which disputes at least some of the claims as to the relative effectiveness of past and proposed operating regimes.

The failure to use modern scientific and physical methods of collecting data and compiling computer based data bases on the subjects under study and at the various sites, when opportunities were presented by the favourable financial terms of the contract and with systems long in operation elsewhere, leaves much to be desired and investigated, in the opinion of the author of this critical appraisal, as does the means of tendering in respect of the study.

The study issues a disclaimer at the introduction, which nullifies much of the observational data presented and effectively rules out any acceptance of the recommendations, quote,

"Whilst the information contained in this report is given in good faith, it is issued strictly on the basis that any entity relying on it does so at his or its own risk and without the benefit of any warranty or commitment of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Northern Ireland Electricity plc or Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd as to the veracity or accuracy of any facts or statements contained in this report."

The above disclaimer is not found in any other reputable hydro-electric study, in the opinion of the author of this critical appraisal and the use of the word "veracity", or truthfulness, is positively sinister, in his opinion and effectively rules out any legal obligation on the part of the sponsors of the study and the commissioned agents carrying out the study, in respect of responsibility for any failure of the recommendations in the study. The legal situation, in so far as the author of this critical appraisal is advised, is that those who make recommendations based on assumptions drawn from the study, are personally liable for those decisions and not the sponsors of the study or the commissioned agency carrying out the study. In light of this, it is the opinion of the author of this critical appraisal, that the study and its recommendations should be rejected.


1. Further exploration of the field of hydro-electric power generation on rivers in Northern Ireland should be cancelled until proper, independent, field studies are carried out, with strict terms of reference and with the use of modern, scientific methodology, into the effects on fisheries in the area, of plants already licensed under Non Fossil Fuel Order Legislation.

2. An investigation should be carried out, as part of the on-going inquiry into Inland Fisheries by the Committee of the Culture Arts and Leisure department of the New Northern Ireland Assembly, into the commissioning of the Hydro-electric Monitoring Study, paying particular attention to any contracts held by any member of the monitoring company, with any government department in the N.I.O. in the past and examining any relationship between any persons involved in the study and those departments.

3. An immediate and thorough investigation, carried out by an independent agency, should be carried out into the means by which the field of hydro-electric power generation was introduced to Northern Ireland, examining the generating data from those plants already licensed and which was denied the author of this critical appraisal. The investigation should also examine the relationship between those privately involved in the field and Northern Ireland's departments paying particular attention to claims of generating capacity and seeking independent verification of those claims.

4. A strict operating regime should be imposed on those hydro-electric plants licensed under the N.F.F.O. and which were involved in the Monitoring Study. In river work as recommended by the Monitoring Study should be cancelled and all the plants so far licensed should observe a strict and verifiable closure period until proper water abstraction legislation is introduced by the New Northern Ireland Assembly. The closure period should begin each year on 21st June and last until 14th September inclusive. From 15th September until the last day of November, the plants should operate under a strict regime where the division of flows is 40% to the plants and 60% to the river and automated flow switching devices capable of recording flow data, should be installed at the developers' expense. These measures will ensure that peak salmon migration is not interfered with and later running migrants have speedy access to the spawning grounds.

5. All operators should install louvre screens, set an angle to the flow, permanently fixed to the river bed and outside their headraces where they can be checked. Where hydro-electric sites are in place on the upper reaches of river systems, louvre screens should be used in conjunction with mesh screens, situated at the opening of the headrace, set at an angle to the flow and with a modern smolt by pass system in place. These measures will ensure that damage to migrating juveniles is minimised.

6. Fixed metal grilles should be placed at tailrace exits and locked in place for 12 months of the year and further reliance on electrical field blocking devices should be discouraged.

7. The measures above should be incorporated at all sites where water is abstracted for whatever purpose, a rigid enforcement and checking regime set in place and the recommendations enshrined in any new water abstraction legislation as the minimum of standards necessary to protect fisheries in the future.

There were many other matters not unrelated to the Monitoring Study, which I would have liked to have brought to the attention of this Committee but was prevented by lack of time and the delayed release of the Study from doing so. One important point I feel the Committee must be aware of however. If an argument is made that the expertise was not available to ensure that those plants licensed under the N.F.F.O. were equipped with proper fishery protection measures and operating regimes, it is a poor one. On the Salmon Research Station on the river Bush in County Antrim, operated by the former DA.N.I., scientists have drawn water from the river historically until the river became too polluted by farm effluent and ground water had to be sought. These are properly qualified people with international acceptance due to the nature of their research work and it is unbelievable that they were not asked for their advice. The question then must be asked as to why the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd was selected. I feel I must express my opinion to this committee in that I believe those promoting the field and officials responsible in government departments, were of the opinion, that because the Study Director was also a member of an angling lobby group, The Ulster Angling Federation, it would be easier to sell the recommendations to anglers in the province.

The question of the disclaimer at the front of the Study, which effectively nullifies the conclusions and recommendations, has puzzled many anglers in the province. Again it is my opinion, that the initial report which was due out in January in this year, was removed and a slightly more critical version issued in June. In response to those disks I circulated to Assembly Members, showing the plants operating illegally during the Study period, those with recognised and credible qualifications and only really associated with the report, the study director carrying out most of the field work, became alarmed at the counter evidence to the observations which was already in the public domain and insisted on the disclaimer being added.

It is with some sadness that I have to report to the committee, the recent ill health of our friend Tommy Conlon and I'm sure that the committee would join me in earnest hopes for his full recovery. Tommy supplied the photographs of conditions prevailing on his river Blackwater during the period of the monitoring study and at a cost which I will now relate.

Tommy was pressurised, because of the information which he supplied to me and through me to this committee and by those who, in my opinion, were terrified that the facts of which this committee is now aware, should see the light of day. In Tommy's case gentle hints and some not so gentle, were dropped, that the provision of information might interfere with the free flow of European funding in the future. As would be expected of a courageous angling reporter with the Tyrone Times, Tommy refused and the pressure continued. On one occasion he was advised that a "block might be dropped on him from a great height".

Late last year at the regular committee meeting of his angling association, Tommy and his family friend Mr Danny Maguiness turned up at the appointed hour to be informed that the meeting had taken place an hour earlier than usual and that both of them had been removed from the committee, without any reason being given. Tommy's health suffered markedly as a result and when I talked to him afterwards he told me that he lay awake at nights thinking about the injustice of it all. A succession of minor strokes hospitalised him, ironically on the very Saturday when we knew for certain that accountability would be restored. Tommy is now recovering at home but as I am sure this committee is aware, his battling days are over. In conclusion I would say this to the committee. In the last ten years I have, by my challenging nature, made few friends in Northern Ireland. Those who remain, Danny Brown, Frank Quigley, Dan Kinney and Geoff Martin at the Newsletter and the courageous Tommy Conlon, I can at least, safely turn my back on.

Finally, committee members I would like you to consider this. Last evening I attended the launch of the Monitoring Study commissioned by the D.E.T.I. and N.I.E. During the whole evening the monitoring team, in trying to substantiate their arguments, which they could not, against all those points which are laid out graphically in this critical appraisal, still maintained that Antony Oneil was the developer of the Randalstown site. Indeed over the last five years the former D.E.D. and the D.O.E. maintained that the developer was Antony Oneil and the planning application was made in his name. In the Monitoring Study the developer is noted on several occasions as Antony Oneil. As I remarked at the launch however, when I asked the D.O.E. planning service for an independent environment impact statement for the Randalstown application I was told that I should "ring Terry Maguire of New Mills Hydro" as he was "doing them".

If one looks overleaf one will find an extract from the brochure prepared for the launch of the Monitoring Study by the D.E.T.I. in which the real developer at Randalstown is listed, Mr Terry Maguire, New Mills Hyrdro Generation Ltd. One also notes that the generating capacity is listed as 500kw, which is more than the 400kw on the planning application for Randalstown. Last night it was admitted that my figures were right and the contraption is barely capable of generating 200kw on a steady basis and with the whole river through it. You will note however, that the figures overleaf are the Declared Net Capacity and ask yourselves who made the declarations? That committee members is 200 hairdryers in equivalence. One has to question Antony Oneil's outburst to an angler at Randalstown about Maguire stinging him for a million. I believe that was to mislead. If one goes back to my experiences in the nineties, those photocopied documents in Maguire's filing cabinet are all the more damming, as is the fact that he received £100,000 from the International Fund for Ireland in 1989, long before that first N.F.F.O. Order In Council. As I said before, Danny and I hacked Maguire's accounts and could find no details of the money being spent. That grant was arranged as others, by an official in the NIO ..... to buy water rights!

In March and September of 1997 the alleged developer at Randalstown was reported to the Fishery Conservancy Board for N.I. by the bailiff for our area in respect of infringements at his site. Committee members should note that September 1997 was within the Monitoring period. If committee members also care to look at the front cover of this critical appraisal, they will see ample evidence of those breaches of legislation. That prosecution file was thrown in the bin under pressure from the former DA.N.I. and the former D.E.D., although the bailiff has kept meticulous records. The reason it was thrown in the bin is because the turbine manufacturer from Carrickfergus, Mr Terry Maguire, .. was the developer at the site.

I do not believe that there should be any doubt now, that any investigation into the introduction of the hydro-electrical field in Northern Ireland, should be anything other than a criminal one.

Annex 14


24 June 2000

Please find enclosed some information for your files. I fully realise that the date for evidence taking has expired but some matters have arisen which require urgent attention, the most important of which, is that this year's salmon runs to Northern Ireland's rivers have collapsed. The runs in 1998 were dreadful but this year's returns are even worse so far. It would seem that the Atlantic salmon is on the verge of economic extinction in Northern Ireland's waters. When I say economic extinction perhaps I should qualify that statement. It would be impossible, even for those organisations responsible historically for fisheries in Northern Ireland and with their best efforts, to completely eradicate the Atlantic salmon from rivers here. The scenario we now face is the one I and others have been dreading and also predicting. There is no angling industry which, in the future, can usefully generate income for our people from the resource as it now stands.

I cannot get the Fishery Conservancy Board to prosecute offenders. It appals me to have to say this to you after all we have gone through but that is a fact. I would ask you to intervene on our behalf with the Board and prevail on it to do its duty and bring those cases notified to it, before the courts. The damage being done by that inaction is, I can assure you, extreme. The example I have enclosed, which still awaits processing, is only the tip of a monumental and disgraceful iceberg.

I can assure you now, that if those cases were progressed, a signal would go out and a lesson would be learned, that our fisheries are assets belonging to the people of Northern Ireland and the scenario which I outlined earlier might be prevented. I have written to Patrick Haren, chairman of NIE and reminded him, for the second time, of his public and wider responsibilities and asked him to suspend his company's contracts to purchase power from the two establishments on the river Maine and to review those in operation on the river Blackwater. I believe he will act this time.


Mrs K Simpson
Chief Executive
The Fishery Conservancy Board for NI

27 June 2000

Further to my letter of the 24/06/00 I bring to your attention, the on-going matter of the breach of Fisheries Legislation at the premises of J W Hanna on the Kellswater River in County Antrim. The board was informed of these infringements on the 02/03/00 and the 8/06/00 and I myself sent you the necessary photographic evidence to assist the board solicitor in prosecuting the case. Again as with my letter of the 24/06/00 and in case that evidence has been mislaid, I copy it again to you. I do not believe, that there is anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of the Fisheries Act, weak as it is, who can be in the least doubt, that prosecution is warranted in this instance.

It may well be that an exemption from the Fishery Division of the former D.A.N.I. is in force at the site. If that is indeed the case, perhaps you might consider prosecuting the official who offered J W Hanna the exemption, at the same time as the owner of the water abstraction point. As before, could you keep me advised as to court appearances in this instance. You will receive further files in the future, until the act is cleaned up.

I am gravely concerned Karen, about the lack of activity by the Fishery Conservancy Board for N.I. in respect of prosecuting vested interests who are in breach of Fisheries Legislation. A worrying thought has crossed by mind of late that, in the instances which I reported to you and which remain outstanding, there is a possibility that "exemptions" offered by the "Fishery Division" of the former D.A.N.I. may have been the reason for that lack of activity in those instances. It could also be that the board is presently unable to find the financial resources to pay for the necessary legal services. The settlement from the former D.A.N.I. has barely kept pace with inflation over the years, although I could name several well appointed vested interests in fisheries who have become millionaires during the period when accountability was less than conspicuous. If indeed finances are a problem, I will write to the Minister immediately, to save the board the ignominy of applying for legal aid. Rest assured Karen, if financial constraints are the only problem in respect of the lawful prosecution of offenders, the money will be found.


Copies to: Mr Eamon ONeil, Chairman, CAL committee

Mrs K Simpson
Chief Executive
The Fishery Conservancy Board for NI

24 June 2000

On Friday the 23rd of June 00, in response to a number of telephone calls expressing concern that the Randalstown hydro-electric plant was being operated in breach of Fisheries Legislation, I telephoned your board, to be advised that I should call a telephone number on the mainland if I wanted to report a pollution incident. I find it extraordinary, although in retrospect I should not, that if a matter of urgency arises in Northern Ireland in respect of protecting fisheries here, one has to telephone the mainland outside office hours. I telephoned the number however and reported the incident and the others which, in my opinion, the board has failed to deal with adequately, to be contacted later by an official from an organisation called Environment and Heritage, who asked why the developers "would not keep the screens fitted"?, to which I replied, that screens cut down flows and profitability. I then advised him of the previous offences and the reason why I believed, that in my opinion, the board felt compelled not to instigate proceedings for such offences.

I wrote to you earlier in the year and advised you of the breaches of Fisheries legislation taking place at Hillmount properties on the river Maine at Cullybackey. Could you advise me when Mr Andrew Frazer will attend court to answer the charges. In cast the file has been mislaid, I copy to you again, photographic evidence of the offences.

On the evening of the 23rd June I also telephoned your Fishery Conservancy Officer, Mr Owens and reported the concerns which had been outlined to me, in respect of the illegal operation of the Randalstown hydro-electric plant. Your officer confirmed to me that he had indeed visited the site and noted the irregularities. Please keep me updated in respect of court appearances.

With regards the Randalstown hydro-electric operation, it might well be that the board is perhaps unaware of who the developer actually is and this could explain the lack of legal proceedings for offences reported in the past. Up to and during the licensing of the contraption at Randalstown, all the documentation was in the name of Mr Antony Oneil and indeed in all correspondence with the Barons in our government departments, Mr Oneil is described, as he is in Key's monitoring study, as the developer. If you care to look at the document I enclose, on official power-broker paper by the way, you will see that the site is actually owned by New Mills Hydro Generation Ltd. I believe the proprietor of that company is Mr Terry Maguire of New Mills Hydro Ltd, Ballycarry, Co Antrim. If the board feels in any way timorous about delivering prosecution papers to Mr Maguire; he is noted for his exuberance, let me immediately offer my services. Terry and I are old friends. I believe if you check your files, you will find that Terry has a little turbine on the Inver River near his establishment and numerous incidents were also reported at the water intake point there, of similar offences but alas, to date, no prosecution. I will be delighted therefore to deliver papers for those offences on the same day, as those for the most recent infringements at Randalstown. Terry and I have much to talk about, if he is not in the Bahamas by now.

The news of this year's salmon runs to Northern Ireland's waters is poor, if the board feels in any way concerned, in that many of the North Coast commercial nets men, are of the opinion that they would be better served in removing their fixed nets for the remainder of the season. The logic is inescapable. Salmon runs have collapsed as was predicted. I believe that the board and I are well aware why. If the salmon does indeed become extinct in Northern Ireland's waters, I can only hope, that if there is justice in the world, its extinction will be quickly followed by that of the Fishery Conservancy Board for Northern Ireland. Please keep me updated, as to court appearances for those in breach of Fisheries Legislation in the cases reported to you.

Copies to: Mr Eamon ONeil, Chairman, CAL committee

Annex 15


19 June 2000

I welcome the Inquiry into Inland Fisheries by the Dept of Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee. Firstly let me say I come from one of the most deprived areas of Northern Ireland where 80% of people are unemployed. I myself am not well educated, this Christmas I become a pensioner. I took up fishing when I was 12 years old. In those days our Rivers and Lakes were full of fish, both Game and Coarse fish. As time went on I saw those stocks of fish drop dramatically each year, the main reason being the invention of silage, run-offs from silos and pits devastated our rivers and lakes. Over 20 years ago I was asked to write a Fishing Report each week for my local paper called 'The Tyrone Courier'. I started of writing a short column and after the first year my reports were so popular it took up nearly a full page, my reports pulled no punches on the disgraceful state of our fisheries. The Dept of Agriculture and Rivers Agency had no long or short time interest in bringing Fish Stocks back to our rivers. Then we have the DOE whose sewerage plants have destroyed our rivers year in, year out, yet this body is immune to prosecution, but these same people can prosecute other people. In the last 15 months I have been thrown out of my Local Angling Club, as has a friend of mine, just because I was asking to many questions regarding EU funding to my club. I had to leave another meeting of the Blackwater Enhancement Association's Annual General Meeting last February because I was asking too many question regarding funding and so-called works supposed to be carried out with this funding. To say I was threatened at that meeting would be an understatement. I wrote 3 letters to the Secretary of the Association to investigate the remarks or otherwise made to me. I never got a reply. I have complained about the Waste of EU Funding going to Clubs or Associations in this area that is totally wasted. I have been accused by officials within the Dept of Agriculture of putting jobs in danger by complaining about the abuses of this funding. I have written evidence of this.

I am only out of hospital after being ill. I honestly believe my illness was caused by complaining abut the disgraces of our fisheries. I am sending the Committee a collection of reports I have written over the years on Pollution, Drainage, Fish, kills etc. I welcome this Inquiry and will hope something good comes out of it.

What I would say in the 20 years I have been writing about Angling I have never been accused of under-dealings of any kind, my reports tell the facts not fictions. There are a lot of people who are going to do a good Public Relations exercise to prop up the image to this Inquiry, yet it is these same people who have reaped the benefits, but those Benefits have not brought Fish Stocks back to our Rivers. If I am asked to attend any Inquiry, I will let my feelings be known who these people are.

I could have written 20 pages about the state of our Fisheries to-day and who are the culprits. The Cuttings I have sent will tell all.

Tommy Conlon

This is how the Fisheries Boards in the Republic promote Angling. I get these reports sent to me every second week. I get no reports from the DOA in Northern Ireland.


20-10-99 & 27-10-99

Compiled by The Central and Regional Fisheries Boards


Foyle Fisheries Commission (20-10-99)

Season draws to a close in settled weather and low water conditions.

The spate rivers in the Foyle system have dropped off in the current dry weather conditions but some anglers who are putting in the effort are still taking the odd fresh fish. Water levels on the Mourne are very good at the time of writing and rivers with tidal stretches also still offer the chance of catching a fish.

A number of fish were banked at the Carrick Flats and the tidal stretches of the Roe last week. And on the Faughan, spinning anglers took two fish in the 3 lbs to 4 lbs bracket. There is very little effort being put in on either river, and falling leaves are not helping the angling situation.

The Mourne was also very quiet, although it's in good order. There are no reports at all from the Strabane & Lifford Anglers' beats, but at Sion two fish were taken last week: a fresh-run 8-pounder and a 4 lbs grilse. Other fish were hooked and returned because they are well coloured by now.

The Derg has reached the end of its season with predominantly red fish going upstream. And there were no reports from the Owenkillew either, mainly due to the low water. All the above rivers will close for fishing this Wednesday, the 20th October.

Looking back at the season on the Foyle, which closed on the 15th of September, Frankie Elliott reports that it was a season with very few catches - five spring fish and 12 grilse in all. "The floods of the past few seasons have altered the river bed and with it the good holding pools. which are now very shallow. Despite the low water conditions, the grilse, which appeared in good numbers in early June, did not stop and ran to the lower Finn and Mourne. The small sea trout were present in fair numbers in July and provided the main quarry for local and visiting anglers."

Frankie also fishes the Killygordon Private Fishery on the Finn where visitors and local anglers were happier with the season. The spring salmon catch was on a par with last year's and the grilse catch was only slightly below 1998 levels, but sea trout numbers were up. James McNulty had the biggest fish at 13 lbs and the most successful visiting angler was Michael Duggan from Scotland who had eight grilse on Bradley's stretch, all on fly, in late June. Now, work is underway to erect new huts on the Carry stretch which has the best spring fish.

STOP PRESS: The Foyle Fisheries Commission now offers a new information line with weekly updates on catches, water levels and fish movements.

The number is 0906 302 0004 and calls are charged at 60p per minute and will not exceed three minutes.

For further, specific enquiries please contact the Foyle Fisheries Commission on 02871-342100 (fax 0287-342720) or via the following e-mail addresses: or


Eastern Region: (20-10-99)

Whizzo Portobello AC ran the 2nd leg of their winter league on the ROYAL CANAL at Mullingar last Sunday 17th. Fishing was from 11 am to 4 pm and 15 anglers took part, fishing in the Harbour area. Roach/Rudd hybrids made up 60% of the fish caught, averaging 10 ozs and a best of 1.75 lbs. The rest of the fish caught were Roach, with some Tench also reported.

The results were: 1st Richie Keegan 6.68 kg
2nd Patrick Kindillion 5.17 kg
3rd Derek Maguire 4.05 kg
4th Colom O'Gara 3.4 kg

There are five more matches remaining, anyone interested contact Gavin Ward @ 4530430.

Pleasure anglers fishing in the same area recently reported bags of 20-30 lbs of mixed fish.

Shannon Region: (20-10-99)

Angler's World Holidays hosted the Portumna Autumn Classic, which was fished at five venues on the River Shannon around PORTUMNA last week from Monday to Friday October 11th to 15th inclusive. The main organisers were Ray Bows and John Dyson. Over 140 anglers participated and enjoyed the event, which was fished in very pleasant weather conditions for most of the week. River levels were very high at the beginning of the competition but started to drop during the week with dry weather prevailing. Some good individual bags were recorded but generally bream were in short supply resulting in smaller bags than was expected. Some results were very close and very little separated the top weights which added a lot of excitement and interest for a number of anglers on the fifth and final day.

The results were:

Overall Winners Each Day

Day 1 Monday October 11th 1st D Miles 23.920 kg
2nd T Morgan 20.800 kg
3rd V Smith 17.300 kg

Day 2 Tuesday October 12th 1st S Gunne 27.420 kg
2nd B Taylor 18.200 kg
3rd N Richards 17.800 kg

Day 3 Wednesday October 13th 1st Bob Nudd 16.120 kg
2nd G Herbert 15.820 kg
3rd V Smith 15.190 kg

Day 4 Thursday October 14th 1st T Linford 20.860 kg
2nd J Shelham 19.240 kg
3rd M Wright 13.280 kg

Day 5 Friday October 15th 1st N Harrison 14.210 kg
2nd B Clay 13.700 kg
3rd B Nudd 12.460 kg

Overall Winners 1st John Shelham 52.900 kg
2nd S Gunne 50. 190 kg
3rd V Smith 50.170 kg
4th L Higgins 48.380 kg
5th B Nudd 47.900 kg
6th J Linford 46.300 kg
7th B Taylor 45.880 kg
8th D Pilgrim 45.870 kg
9th N Seddon 45.190 kg
10th N Hamison 45.150 kg

Team Winners: 1st Whizzo Ground Baits 192.210 kg
2nd Van den Eynde 190.540 kg
3rd Gunnies Tackle 175.460 kg

Below are the weights for the Club Winter League match last Sunday 17th on SILVERGROVE LAKE, Co Clare. Fishing was from 11.00 am - 4.00 pm. The water was high, but otherwise conditions were good. John Sharpe had a Rudd of over a 1 lb in each catch. Fishing was slow and only picked up on the last hour when the small rudd came on to feed. During the day the bites were hard to see.

1st Pat Barry 8 lbs 15 ozs
2nd John Sharpe 4 lbs 9 ozs
3rd Kevin Leahy 4 lbs 8 ozs
4th Martin Keating 3 lbs 3 ozs
5th Paki Leahy 2 lbs 14 ozs
6th Barry Smith 2 lbs 9.5 ozs
7th John Powell 2 lbs 4 ozs
8th Kieran Crean 1 lb 15 ozs
9th Chris Troy 1 lb 14 ozs
10th Noel Ryan 1 lb 1 oz

Northern Region: (20-10-99)

Fishing has been responsible for those who have fished in the ARVA/GOWNA/

CARRIGALLEN areas. Dave Palmer, Lancashire, UK had 86 lbs of mixed fish from Rockfield Lake. Terry Hobson fished Rossduff and had 77 lbs of Skimmer Bream and Roach and 55 lbs at Gulladoo. John Donran from Halifax fished 2 days on Church Lake and bagged 62 lbs and 50 lbs of mixed fish. Bradford Baghouse fished Rossduff over 3 days and recorded bags of 40, 50, and 56 lbs, and had bags averaging 56 lbs at Gulladoo over 3 days. Three UK angers fishing Gulladoo Lower had bags of 30 lbs each on Sunday 17th with some nice sized Bream. Bags to 40 lbs were reported from Tully Lake on Sunday.

In the BELTURBET/KILLESHANDRA/CAVAN areas, parties of English anglers have reported good sport at the Killykeen Match Stretch with plenty of smaller fisher including Skimmer, Roach, Perch and some Bream to 4 lbs.

In the BALLINAMORE/BAWNBOY/BALLYCONNELL area, reports from Garadice Lake indicate that smaller numbers of anglers are fishing. Returns have been reasonable with good numbers of small Bream showing and plenty of Roach and Perch. Anglers are also enjoying good sport on Brackley Lake and Lakefield with small fish and some bigger Bream on the bottom. English anglers have reported excellent Roach fishing on the Shannon/Erne waterway at Ballyconnell with bags to 35 lbs of quality Roach.


International News: (20-10-99)

The 2-day Pike International 10-man Challenge match between Great Britain and Ireland took place on 9th to 10th October. The first day was sink and draw on the Great Owse, England, while the second day was a peg match on Sherrington pits, England. Anglers enjoyed a good first days fishing, with 56 fish recorded by the 20 competitors, but only 8 fish recorded on day 2. The best fish of the 2 days was a 12 lb 3 ozs Pike taken on day 1 by UK angler Dave Tingley.

The overall results were:

1st Ireland 36 fish 154 lbs 14 ozs best 11 lbs 13 ozs

2nd Great Britain 28 fish 115 lbs 12 ozs

The best overall angler was:

John Sheeran, Dún na Rí, Kingscourt Ireland 8 fish 49 lbs 1 oz.

The Ireland team were: James Meehan, Albert Mcnamara, Pat Gorman, Sean Markey, Benny Markey, Joe Devlin, John Sheenan, Eddie Keogh, Anthony Mullen, George Dillon.

Shannon Region: (20-10-99)

A party of six French anglers fished on LOUGH GARA last Friday and reported some very good pike fishing. The leader of the party Stephen Elgi from Paris had a 25 lbs fish. Another member of the party had a 20 lbs fish. All pike were released back to the lake.

The Dublin Pike Anglers held the 1st leg of their winter league on the RIVER SUCK last Sunday. 23 anglers recorded 73 fish for 376 lbs, including 5 double figure fish with a best of 14.8 lbs by Paddy Mongey. The best methods were wobbled deadbaits.

The results were:

1st Pauric Flynn 9 fish 42 lbs 15 ozs
2nd Mick Ayes 9 fish 36 lbs 13 ozs
3rd Godfrey Donohue 7 fish 29 lbs 1 oz

For information on the 2 remaining legs, contact Jim Thompson @ 8389070.


Blackhorse Pike Anglers held a 2-day Pike Competition on the RIVER SUCK on Sunday and Monday 24th and 25th. This event, sponsored by Gillanes Hotel, Ballinasloe, attracted 67 anglers, catching an incredible 385 Pike for 1,356 lbs. The venue for the first day was Ballyforan and Athleague, while Muckanagh, Ballygar was the venue for the second day.

The winners on the first day were:

1st Eugene Hennigan

2nd Mark Brown

The overall winners were:

1st Ray Callopy, Limerick 115 lbs 6 ozs
£500 + Trophy

2nd Val Brady, Blackhorse AC, Dublin 89 lbs 14 ozs

3rd Mark Brown, Blackhorse AC, Dublin 82 lbs 7 ozs

The winner in the ladies section was Anne Greenhalsh, Dublin Pike Anglers. Christy Keighrey from Ballinasloe caught the heaviest fish, a specimen of 20 lbs 13 ozs.

A Pike competition was held on LOUGH FORBES, near Longford, to raise funds for Crumlin Hospital. A total of 191 anglers from 14 counties took part, recording 138 fish. This was a boat competition, and 66 boats went out. All fish were gently returned to the water.

The results for the heaviest boat of Pike were:

1st Joe McDermott, Longford 24 lbs 5 ozs £400
2nd Packie Reilly, Lanesboro £300
3rd C Beirn £200
4th Ken Dolan, Athlone £100
5th Peter Flaherty, Mohill £50

There were prizes of 2 colour TVs for the heaviest and lightest fish. Garry Dolan from Athlone had the heaviest of 18 lbs 11.5 ozs and Mark O'Shea had the lightest fish of 14.5 ozs. The best methods were spoons, Rapalas, and deadbaits. This competition was a huge success for a very good cause. A special thanks must go to all the organisers and sponsors, and to all the competitors. £6000 was raised by this event. It is hoped that a boat, trailer, and engine will be up for grabs for next year's event.

Northern Region: (20-10-99)

There are numerous parties of German Pike anglers enjoying good angling in the Lough Gowna and Lough Oughter areas.

Local veteran angler John Smith landed his biggest ever Pike at Gulladoo Upper Lake near CARRIGALLEN on Sunday 17th after a hectic struggle. It weighed in at a specimen weight of 31 lbs.

Parties of continental anglers have enjoyed good Pike angling in the BELTURBET/

KILLESHANDRA/CAVAN areas. Weather conditions and water levels are ideal for the sport.

In the COOTEHILL/BALLYBAY/SHERCOCK area, the local Angling and Tourist Development Association organised their first ever official Pike angling competition on Lough Sillan on Sunday 17th. 75 rods fished and around 50 fish were landed.

The results were:

1st John McKenna, Mountain Lodge, Cootehill 17 lbs 3 ozs
2nd Michael O'Brien, Ardee 16 lbs 14 ozs
3rd Bill Coffey, Drumnavail, Cootehill 16 lbs 13 ozs
4th William Lennord, (14 years old) Navan 10 lbs 3 ozs


The 8th annual Dún na Rí Pike competition sponsored by Kingspan and Murtaghs in Kingscourt was held on LOUGH SILLAN last Sunday 24th. On a calm and sunny day, a total of 161 anglers took part including 30 juniors, but only 29 Pike were caught, biggest 10 lbs.

The results in the senior sector were:

1st Mick O'Brien, Ardee 3 fish 28 lbs 7 ozs £600
Mick wins the Murtagh Cup, and £400 in pools

2nd Paul Martin, Ardee 3 fish 13 lbs 14 ozs £350
3rd Jackie Doherty, Belfast 3 fish 14 lbs 10 ozs £200
4th Paddy Cudden, Ardee 1 fish 7 lbs 12 ozs £150
5th Pat McCabe, Virgina 3 fish 7 lbs 5 ozs £75
6th Gerry Madigan, Cootehill 1 fish 7 lbs 5 ozs £75

The results in the junior section were:

1st John Clarke, Dún na Rí 1 fish 7 lbs 8 ozs
2nd Patrick Slevin, Keady 2 fish 6 lbs 4 ozs
3rd Gerry Clarke, Dún na Rí 1 fish 5 lbs 12 ozs

Francie Rafferty won a special prize for the smallest fish, a 6 oz Pike.


Eastern Region: (27-10-99)

Wexford & District SAC held an open shore angling competition in WEXFORD HARBOUR over the Bank Holiday weekend. Anglers from 17 clubs took part, fishing on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The main species caught were Flounder, along with some eels.

The senior results were:

Day 1 43 anglers caught 38 fish

1st Tony Gaffney, South Shore SAC 6 fish 52.8 points
2nd Dick Caulfield, Tramore Waterford SAC 4 fish 30.3 points
3rd Martin Tobin, Tramore Waterford SAC 4 fish 27 points

Day 2 52 anglers caught 106 fish

1st Bill Callow, Ramsay AC (Isle of Man) 6 fish 47.5 points
2nd Tom O'Neill, Wexford & District 6 fish 43.5 points
3rd Robert Gilbert, Blackrock SAC 5 fish 42.7 points

Day 3 66 anglers caught 347 fish

1st Joe Ryan, Newross SAC 17 fish 152 points
2nd Tom O'Neill, Wexford & District 16 fish 138.5 points
3rd Keiran Belgin, Tramore Waterford SAC 14 fish 134 points

Overall team of 3 results

1st Wexford & District: Tom O'Neill, Joe Carly, Sean Furlong;

39 fish for 329 points

The overall winner was Tom O'Neill.

The overall junior results were

Day 1

1st Neill Roche, Wexford SAC 2 fish 23.5 points
2nd Stephen Colgan, Salthill SAC 2 fish 14 points
3rd Derek Malone, Newross SAC 1 fish 8.2 points

Day 2

1st Ciaran Malone, Newross SAC 5 fish 26.5 points
2nd Ross Hood, Blackrock SAC 5 fish 25.6 points

Day 3

1st Mark Duffin, Kilmore AC 8 fish 83 points
2nd John Busher, Kilmore AC 7 fish 73 points
3rd Derek Malone, Newross AC 5 fish 53 points

The overall junior winner was Mark Duffin.

Nick Bowie, Charter skipper of Lady Allison in KILMORE QUAY, had groups of anglers from Carlow on board his boat last weekend. While fishing west of the Saltees, they enjoyed good fishing for Codling, Pollack and Ling. Nick had a group of local anglers out last Tuesday, 26th fishing near Conningbeg light ship. They had plenty of Whiting, some haddock and the odd Mackerel. Nick's boat will be staying in the water for the winter, so anyone interested may contact him at 053-45888 or 087-2547110.

Southern Region:

In DUNCANNON, charter skipper Walter Foley reports good sport for Cod of 4 and 5 lbs and Bass in Waterford Harbour. Walter had a group of anglers wreck fishing last weekend and they reported some nice sized Pollack and Ling. Walter will be available for trips for the next month or so. Contact him at 087-2437148.

South Western Region: (20-10-99)

The Munster Open Shore competition was held at Owenahincha, CO CORK last Saturday 17th by Cork SAC. 75 anglers took part, catching only 2 fish! All the anglers were terribly disappointed with the returns. The winner, Christy Lane, Cork SAC, won a gold medal for his specimen 10 lbs Bass caught with 10 minutes remaining. A Flounder, just making the size limit of 300 mm was enough for second place for Noel Lane. Noel also received a gold medal for the heaviest (only) edible fish.

Cathersiveen SAC ran an open boat competition out of CAHERSIVEEN on Sunday 17th in very good weather conditions. A total of 30 competitors from 6 clubs took part, fishing on 4 boats, accounting for 217 fish. The main species were Pollack, Conger, Ling, Dogfish, Wrasse, Rockling, Cod and G S Dogfish.

The results were

1st Kenneth Roddy, Cahersiveen 228 points 12 fish
2nd Johnny Griffin, Cahersiveen 188 points 15 fish
3rd Phil Blakey, Carrigline 179 points 15 fish
4th Hugh Maguire, Cahersiveen 179 points 9 fish

South Western Region:

5th Frank Cronin, Monkstown 170 points 15 fish
6th Jerry Fitzgerald Jnr, Cahersiveen 168 points 12 fish
7th Joe Hardy, Cahersiveen 158 points 12 fish


In TRALEE, Ray, Dogfish and small Pollack were reported from the bridge at fenit. Anglers fishing Barrow Harbour near Fenit recently enjoyed good Bass fishing, catching 10 fish up to 5.5. lbs. Good catches of Bulhuss, Congar, Dogfish and Pollack were reported from Ballyheige Bay.

In BRANDON BAY, good fishing for Bass, Flounder, and Plaice was reported.

Shannon Region: (20-10-99)

A group of 7 anglers from Limerick SAC went out in 3 boats out of DOOLIN, Co Clare. They recorded 18 species of fish including Red Gurnard, Pollack to 9 lbs and John Dory.


In the SHANNON ESTUARY, small Ray and Flounder were reported from Beal Strand.

Anglers fishing Blue Pool, near DOONBEG, Co Clare reported good fishing for small Cooling, Ballan Wrasse to 3 lbs, and a Sea Scorpion.

North Western region:

ACHILL ISLAND, the largest island off the Irish coastline, with some magnificent beaches, was the venue for the Irish Federation of Sea Anglers 1999 Master Angler Shore Angling Championship that was fished over last weekend's Bank Holiday. The first of the 3 angling sessions was held on the beach, over 3 zones, between Doogort and the Slievemore Mountains. A total of 97 top shore anglers representing the 4 provinces had made the long journey to the West of Ireland to fish the Masters, which rotates through the provinces.

The Masters was scheduled to be fished over 3 sessions, the 1st of which was fished from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday at Doogort, situated at the northern end of the island. A strong surf made conditions difficult for the competitors, with mainly Dogfish featuring in the catches. An unusual aspect of the catch was the hooking of 6 Sea Trout averaging 2.5 lbs on Mackerel baits - all of which unfortunately were ineligible, as were Mackerel, Herring, and Scad.

The results of Session 1 Zone A were:

1st Michael Varley, Belmullet SAC
2nd Fergus Collins, Cois Fharraige SAC
3rd Eamonn Birmingham, South Shore Sth SAC

Zone B results:

1st Chris Denvir, Raheny & District SAC
2nd Kieran Kidney, Cork SAC
3rd Joe Clarke, Lisdoonvarna/Fanore SAC

Zone C results:

1st Tom McAdam, Dublin Telesport SAC
2nd Chris Millen, Old Bushmills SAC
3rd Sammy Sterling, White Wave SAC

Session 2 was to be fished at Keel Strand from 6 pm to 10 pm. Unfortunately, after approximately one hour, conditions were deemed to be unsafe and the session was cancelled until the following day, Sunday, from 10 am to 1 pm at Keel Strand. From the off, most anglers were meeting fish on an ideal surf. Zone A fished particularly well with an abundance of Flounder and a fair shore of small Turbot.

The results of Session 2 Zone A were:

1st Bobby Laughlin, Carrickfergus B&R
2nd Alan Smallwood, Causeway Coast SAC
& Sammy Stirling, Whitewave SAC

Zone B results:

1st Brian Mansfield, Abbeyside SAC
2nd Jonathan Butler, Howth Gannets SAC
3rd Brian Buckley, Borough SAC

Zone C results:

1st Chris Denvir, Raheny & District SAC
2nd Tommy Keogh, South Shore N. SAC
3rd Mick Kirwin, Mariners SAC

After session 2, anglers were allowed an hour to change their zone positions, to be in readiness for the final session fished from 2 pm to 5 pm, each angler had then fished in each of the 3 zones. The anglers had to retreat before a fast flowing flood tide. Unfortunately, the flat fish that had been quite plentiful in the morning had taken the afternoon off and were quite scarce, with 2 fish being the best bag in zone A.

The results for session 3 Zone A:

1st Peter Bolger, Howth SAC
2nd David Roe, Blackrock A SAC
3rd Raymond Gibson, Coleraine Cheese SAC

Zone B results:

1st Andrew McCallion, Portstewart SAC
2nd Robert Coventry, Eastern Command SAC
3rd Sean Sheery, Rush SAC

Zone C results:

1st John Black, Portrush Golf Club SAC
jt 2nd Frank Baxter, South Shore SAC
& Jonathan Butler, Howth Gannes SAC
& John Kell, Glengormley SAC

The presentation of plaques and the naming of the five man 2001 Irish International Deep Sea Angling team took place at the Achill Head Hotel, where a large gathering of competitors, friends had gathered. Mr Michael Lavelle, chairman of the host club Achill Island SAC welcomes all the anglers to their island home and hoped to see them all return to fish there again in the future. Mr Brian Prendergast, Chairman of I.F.S.A. thanked all the anglers for their sportsmanship and praised the quality of the shore catches in the Masters, he said despite a minor hiccup, a most worthwhile weekend's fishing had been enjoyed by all. Mr Pat Walsh, Hon Secretary of I.F.S.A. Connaught Provincial Council, then presented special I.F.S.A. plaques on the top 7th to 10th placed anglers.

Mr Graham Foote, I.F.S.A. Hon Recorder announced the members of the five main Irish Team as follows:

1st Winner of the gold medal and captain of the team, Raymond Gibson, Coleraine Cheese SAC (Ulster)

2nd Chris Millen, Old Bushmills & District SAC (Ulster) runner up and silver medallist

3rd Bronze medallist, Joe Clarke, Lisdoonvarna/Fanore SAC (Munster)

4th John Kell, Glengormley & District SAC (Ulster)

5th Frank Baxter, South Shore SAC (Leinster)

6th and 1st reserve, Chris Denver, Raheny & District SAC (Leinster)

7th Mick Kirwin, Mariners SAC (Ulster)

8th David Roe, Blackrock A SAC (Leinster)

9th Rodney Smith, Shannon Town SAC (Munster)

10th Peter Bolger, Howth SAC (Leinster)

11th Mick Maher, Bass SAC (Munster)

12th David Flynn, Wexford Garda SAC (Leinster)

13th John Black, Portrush Yacht Club SAC (Ulster)

Northern Region:

In RATHMULLAN, owner of the boat 'Enterprise', Neil Doherty had a group of anglers from Bangor and Belfast out last Sunday. While wreck fishing over 'Laurentic', 2 miles out of Lough Swilly, they had good catches of Pollack, Coalfish, conger and Pouting. They then travelled a further 2 miles north for some Reef fishing and recorded catches of Cod, Haddock, Spurdog, LS Dogfish, and Ling. All in all, they had a great days fishing. The boat will be out in the water for another month or more, depending on bookings. You may contact Neil or Angela at 074-58131.

Please note:

The Irish Specimen Fish Committee has asked that any anglers with outstanding claim forms for specimen fish to send them to:

Irish Specimen Fish Committee
C/o Central Fisheries Board
Balnagowan, Mobhi Boreen
Mobhi Road, Glasnevin,
Dublin 9.


Annex 16


21 June 2000


Report compiled by:


The former honorary secretary of the Lough Neagh and Maine System Game Anglers Association.


Mr Daniel Brown, former chairman of the Lough Neagh and Maine System Angler Association, Mr Frank Quigley, Editor of Angling Ireland and Mr Tommy Conlon, Angling Correspondent with the Tyrone Times.

November 1998. [Prepared for the New Northern Ireland Assembly in that year.]

This is a confidential report to elected members of the New Northern Ireland Assembly and the C.A.L. Committee.

This report, which was prepared before the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee began its investigation into Inland Waterways and Fisheries in N.I., is never-the-less intended as a submission by the above individuals to the committee, in respect of the ongoing investigation and for the purposes of clarification of any detail, the above mentioned individuals would be delighted to attend the committee.

Submitted to the Culture, Arts and Leisure on behalf of independent anglers, Danny Brown, Frank Quigley, Tommy Conlon and Harold Avery, as material to be considered in that Committee's investigation, 21 June 2000.



1. The matter in which the Fishery Division has exercised it's authority in respect of it's remit to protect and develop fisheries in Northern Ireland over the past thirty years.

2. The activities of the Fishery Conservancy Board for Northern Ireland particularly the past record of the board in respect of its remit to police fisheries, the make up of the board and the manner in which appointments are made to the board by government departments especially the Fishery Division, including in that process a thorough investigation into the past and present financial interests of board members to ascertain if there is any conflict between the pursuit of those interests and any decisions which were or are necessary concerning the good management of the public angling estate.

3. The pursuit of hydro-electrical power generation on rivers in Northern Ireland both historically and under recent Non Fossil Fuel Orders in Council, including the failure of government departments in the Northern Ireland Office to take proper advice as to the serious effects on fisheries of unregulated water abstraction associated with this field of generation or to make proper provision as in other countries for the protection of fisheries where water is abstracted for any type of motive power or industrial use including commercial trout husbandry. The assembly would do well to investigate the issuing of exemptions from obligations under fisheries legislation in respect of sites where water is abstracted for any purposes including those listed above [some water users have been reluctant to fit screens to protect migrating salmonid juveniles from intakes .. Screens cut down flows to motive power operations and reduce profitability of both hydro-sites and commercial trout farms .. and have sought exemptions under certain important sections of the fisheries act particularly under sections 58 and 59]. In some instances those exemptions have been used, rather than was intended by the legislation to enhance protection measures at sites, to hide up the fact that no suitable measures were in place.

In pursuing an investigation of recent Non Fossil Fuel hydro-electric developments Committee members would do well to investigate any tendering or alleged tendering process, seeking evidence at the Energy Policy Division of the Department of Economic Development, including contract prices for individual hydro-electric sites and how the decision to award individual contracts was arrived at, paying particular attention to any evidence of monopolies in the sale of generation equipment. In particular it would be advisable to investigate the environmental impact statements drawn up for each site in Northern Ireland where a N.F.F.O. contract was awarded for hydroelectrical power generation to ascertain whether those statements were independent and whether any government department in the N.I.O. supplied any information which was subsequently used in the preparation of those statements or in individual tenders and if so investigate if the information was accurate. The Committee should also investigate those contracts awarded to determine if the power ratings of the plants can be achieved without taking all of the river flow [thus impeding the progress of migrating salmon at weirs where water is abstracted] and investigate a recent document "A Northern Ireland Draft Water Order" which proposes a sort of licensing system for such developments but which proposes to [exempt N.F.F.O. license holders already generating from the provisions of such a licensing system] and ascertain if the proposed exemptions are based on any concept of protecting fisheries or are a result of lobbying. Committee members should seek documents containing proposals for hydro-electric power developments at the Energy Policy Division of the Department of Economic Development whether licensed subsequently or otherwise and examine them thoroughly.

The Committee should investigate the licensing system for hydro-electrical power sites and question the government departments in the Northern Ireland Office as to why contracts to supply [were awarded before developers applied for planning permission]. Exemption certificates granted by The Fishery Division under sections 58 and 59 of the Fisheries Act 1966 should be examined where they apply to recently licensed hydro-electrical sites and independent fisheries experts from outside the region [having not had previous contracts with any government department in the N.I.O.] employed to advise Committee members if the terms of those exemptions or the provisions for fishery protection at each licensed site are such that damage to fisheries can be avoided. It is recommended also that Committee members investigate thoroughly the belated attempts to allay fears about the effects on fisheries of these developments in their present form by the institution of a monitoring procedure, paying particular attention to the amount of public money involved in the monitoring process and to the insistence of the government departments in the N.I.O. that the monitoring period should be only two years [the life cycle of the Atlantic salmon and the migratory trout can be as long as five years]. It is also recommended that the Committee should rule that the monitoring procedure be wound up and independent fishery opinion from outside the region engaged to compile a report for Committee members. Members should investigate the tendering process for the monitoring procedure and call for papers. Similarly members should call for the day to day monitoring results to date for all those sites awarded a monitoring contract with detailed independent and signed witness reports and investigate the tender bids from the other independent environment assessment companies who allegedly tendered, to ascertain why their bids were unsuccessful. The Committee should investigate the monitoring company which was awarded the contract to see if the company or any of it's members has any other contract with any government department in the N.I.O. or has any other representative obligations which in the opinion of the members might interfere with provision of information. The Committee should place a moratorium on such developments and institute a rigorous investigation into why this field was explored in the absence of suitable legislation to protect fisheries here from its effects, paying particular attention to the amount of power which some allege could be obtained and seek independent assessments of these claims.

4. The Committee should investigate the commercial rainbow trout industry in Northern Ireland to establish how damaging the field has been to the natural asset of our wild Atlantic salmon and trout stocks. Northern Ireland's rivers have been plagued historically with large escapee rainbow trout from fish farms, which have been operating without the proper site provisions to protect wild salmon and trout juveniles from the effects of these predators. A photograph appeared in Angling Ireland in 1997 of the stomach contents of an escapee rainbow trout, caught on the Crumlin river which contained approximately 150 juvenile wild brown trout.] Members should investigate the provisions at each rainbow trout farm, seeking independent scrutiny as to the protection measures to prevent the escape of occupants and subsequent damage to wild fisheries. Members should ask for independent environmental impact statements [preferably from a company which has had no prior contracts with any government departments in the Northern Ireland Office] in respect of the downstream river environment at each site where water is drawn off for commercial trout farming paying particular attention to the number of occupants and checking for records of any transmittable disease and where historically any disease was present, independent verification of destruction of stock and numbers of stock destroyed. The Committee should also examine records of fish movement licenses granted by the Fishery Division for Northern Ireland in respect of licensed fish farms for the past thirty years and seek independent advice as to the productive capacity of each site to see whether the sites were capable of attaining the declared level of production or whether any of the production capacity came from any establishment similar to that described in the section marked confidential. [Health checks on the occupants, protection of the consumer, and the establishment of training procedures in husbandry are difficult in respect of establishments such as the one presented in the evidence marked confidential.]

In response to questions in the House of Commons submitted by Mr Daniel Brown, former chairman of the Lough Neagh and Maine Systems Game Anglers Association [an independent angling association which owes it's demise in the opinion of the chairman and secretary to the influence of government departments in the N.I.O.] Mr Ancram confirmed that there were 104 rainbow trout fattening ponds in existence in Northern Ireland adding in the process that all of them should have the necessary licenses. The Fishery Conservancy Board for Northern Ireland issued a statement almost immediately denying all knowledge of the existence of these establishments. The Committee would do well to investigate this matter to see if any wild trout and salmon spawning streams of strategic value to Northern Irelands' fisheries are blocked by these establishments as is the case of the one in the section marked confidential and if members would be helpful in determining if the chairman of the Fishery Conservancy Board has dealt with the matter in my correspondence to him in that section, it would be much appreciated.

The historic operation of commercial rainbow trout official farms on rivers in Northern Ireland has had a damaging effect on wild fish stocks by trapping downstream migrating juvenile trout and salmon in intakes and eventually ponds where they were eaten by rainbow trout. The fishery Act of 1966 makes provisions for the protection of wild fish stocks by declaring a legal obligation to fit grills and screens as a means of protection in the months of March, April, May and significantly at any other time when the juveniles of salmon and trout are in the river. The act also offers the opportunity for the Fishery Division to issue an exemption from the provisions where it is satisfied that suitable alternative measures to protect wild fish stocks are in place. It is widely believed that the provisions for exemptions were used to hide the fact that no measures for protection were in place in some instances. Screens become blocked with debris, reducing flow rates and hence the profitability of trout farms and hydro-electric operations. Where exemptions exist and independent scrutiny is of the opinion that the exemptions are less than adequate to protect wild fisheries the Committee is advised to investigate the relationship between those possessing the exemption and the bodies responsible for fishery protection in Northern Ireland, paying particular attention to any notification to the Fishery Conservancy Board by any bailiff of any infringements at any site and inquire whether proceedings were instituted against any member of the board in respect of any alleged infringements and whether, if proceedings were instituted, any members of the body responsible for the issuing of the exemption were called as witnesses in any such proceedings. The Committee is also advised to investigate any grants which have been made from public resources over the years for any private establishment where trout are reared for commercial reasons or for the re-stocking of angling waters after pollution or for any enhancement exercise, determine the amount of any such award and whether the award was likely to develop fisheries in the region for the common good. In all these matters in this section, the ones previous to it and subsequently, the Committee should secure the necessary documents, by whatever means members find suitable and lawful, to expedite their task.

5. The Committee should, by whatever means it finds appropriate, investigate the securing of money from the Peace and Reconciliation settlement of the European Economic Community by the Fishery Division for a Salmonid Enhancement Scheme [there are some who believe that the successful appropriation of money from the fund had more to do with scandals at recently licensed hydro-electric sites and other revelations than any attempt to develop Northern Irelands' fishery assets]. Members should examine projects and in particular awards to any private fisheries or organisations and bring in independent experts to ascertain if good value for money was the result of the community's generosity. Members should examine details of any organisation set up to take advantage of such funding, whether individual projects were properly scrutinised and if new organisations were set up to take advantage of funding or existing angling clubs benefited from such funding, the clubs or any other members of any partnership set up under the scheme subsequently became members of The Ulster Angling Federation, the only body recognised by the Fishery Division and other government departments in the Northern Ireland Office as suitable in respect of representing the interests of anglers in Northern Ireland. The Committee should examine details of any purchase made by the Fishery Division out of the settlement prior to having received projects from individual angling clubs or partnerships and examine the tendering process for any purchases made with resources from the scheme. Similarly any contracts awarded to any individual in respect of the alleged furtherance of the aims of the scheme and paid for out of the scheme should be examined with particular attention paid to the qualifications in fishery management of any individual contracted to the Fishery Division who was or is salaried out of the scheme and the business interests or any other representational obligations of anyone so salaried. In particular Committee members are asked, as a matter of principle, to investigate the setting up of a "Maine Enhancement Partnership" in 1995 on the river Maine in County Antrim with money secured from the Peace and Reconciliation Fund and in the interests of natural justice, the break up of the Lough Neagh and Maine Systems Game Anglers Association in that year, to see if the methods used were in the interests of the furtherance of free speech and the democratic principle or whether the motivation for the setting up of the partnership had more to do with the matters the Committee is now being asked to investigate. On a not un-related subject the Committee is asked to consider the historic relationship between those who campaign on environmental and other matters and government departments in the Northern Ireland Office paying particular attention to any funding made available over the years to any organisation and in particular the Ulster Angling Federation through the House Of Sport, to see whether the aims of free speech were maintained and if legislation is required to prevent excesses in this respect or whether the re-establishment of public accountability is all that is required.

In the interests of improving water quality and thus the natural habitat of our remaining wild fisheries the Committee is asked to take the following steps. By securing documents and computer records on data bases from government departments and the Fishery Conservancy Board, compile and investigate records of pollution events on Northern Ireland's rivers, paying particular attention to documented pollution instances where no prosecution resulted. The Committee should ask for records of pollution events affecting rivers where damage to commercial trout farming interests occurred [suitable events for investigation will be recommended to members]. The Committee should investigate the level of compensation to any commercial trout farming interest in respect of alleged pollution from any government establishment [discharge of potentially fishery lethal chemicals from water treatment and sewage works] and determine whether the level of compensation was excessive and in what manner it was paid, whether legally or otherwise .. under the table. Investigations should also take place into pollution events from private companies where damage to commercial trout farming operations occurred paying particular attention to instances where settlements were agreed outside court which would have been an admission of liability and no prosecution was pursued by the responsible government agencies in respect of damage to the river environment and wild fishery. [Suitable events for investigation will be recommended to members] Where such instances occurred members should ask whether the company making financial settlement and admitting liability was properly registered under the Water Act, had a licensed consent to discharge and was having that consent monitored by the responsible agencies. Members are advised to pay particular attention to any company discharging chemicals to rivers in Northern Ireland where the governments agencies have received records of pollution instances and subsequent investigations have revealed that the companies had contracts to supply government agencies. Committee members should inquire whether those reported instances of pollution resulted in a prosecution and whether the companies were properly registered under the Water Act, were in possession of a licensed consent to discharge and were having that consent monitored. [Suitable events for investigation will be recommended to members on request.] In respect of commercial trout farming operations in Northern Ireland Committee members would be well advised to ask for lists of licensed sites [including the variety detailed in the confidential section], examine the history of the sites, paying particular attention to acquisition of water rights, historical ownership, culture and transportation licenses and any other data held in government departments. The Committee should also ask government agencies to bring forward as a matter of urgency complete lists of those companies registered under the Water Act and in possession of a consent to discharge on every waterway in Northern Ireland, ask what chemicals are in use in the plant and inquire whether all those chemicals are routinely monitored in the consent. On receipt of completed lists members should dispatch a team of suitably qualified environmentally competent experts [and not having previously had a contract with any department in the N.I.O.] to examine outfalls on respective rivers systems and check if those using the outfalls to discharge are registered under the Water Act, possess a consent to discharge and are having that consent routinely monitored. In respect of the proposed draft Water Order mentioned on page 2, section 2, line 14 it is proposed that a public register of companies is set up listing the chemicals in use by those companies in order that better evaluation of pollution risks can be made. It is also proposed that companies and individuals can seek an exemption from government departments in the N.I.O excluding them from the obligations of the register if they can convince those departments that disclosure would damage their competitiveness, [which would remove the major polluters from the register including some of those operating at present without any consent]. The Committee should call on those responsible for the compilation of the Draft Water Order to explain this decision and also that to exempt those hydro-electric developers licensed under the N.F.F.O. from the water abstraction licensing system. The Committee should establish if the decision on these two proposed exemptions was based on sound evaluation or was the result of lobbying.

6. The Committee should direct the Fishery Division to produce as a matter of urgency, for every member, a full and unabridged copy [not an executive summary which was originally released reluctantly to the public domain] of the recent Price Waterhouse report THE INTEGRATION OF THE PUBLIC ANGLING ESTATE AND MOVANAGHER FISH FARM INTO THE FISHERY CONSERVANCY BOARD FOR NORTHERN IRELAND of which through the efforts of my members of Parliament, I now have an enlightenly full copy. Committee members should study the report and ask those in the Fishery Division who assisted in its compilation to explain the accountancy procedures at Movanagher and the missing years of records in respect of trout production, movements and sales from the state owned hatchery. The Committee should inquire as to who took the decision to commission Price Waterhouse and what level of expenditure was incurred by the taxpayer in its compilation. Committee members should consider the options presented by Price Waterhouse and examine thoroughly why some of those options were disregarded by the Fishery Division, paying particular attention to the option which was eventually agreed and carefully evaluating the following;

In the interests of restoring Northern Ireland's wild fisheries to a level where they play an economic role in an expansion of the area's tourism potential is it wise to persist with a regime whereby effort is directed at stocking reservoirs with reared trout, which have only a limited exploitation potential in tourism revenue terms, from a hatchery which has problems with water quality and disease, or would it be better to develop a strategy for restoring our rivers and fisheries based on just laws to protect them from pollution, unregulated water abstraction and trustworthy agencies to enforce those laws, in order that they realise their full potential. The Committee should attempt to establish if records in respect of fish sales and production exist in any form for the years which are missing from the report and investigate particularly any records of stocking rivers with large trout from Movanagher after pollution events or for any other reason such as "in lieu of drainage", paying particular attention to any pollution events which resulted in compensation to the Fishery Conservancy Board which was used to purchase large brown trout reared at Movanagher or from any trout farmer in the region. [The stocking of rivers with outsize brown trout, whether after pollution or any other reason, may silence dissent among angling clubs for a while but has an effect almost equally as devastating as the original pollution event and is a practice to be deplored. As is the case of the escapee large commercial rainbow trout mentioned in page 3, section 4, line 3, large hatchery reared brown trout also prey on juveniles of their own species and others, especially when released into rivers where the food chain is insufficient for pollution or other reasons to sustain them] The Committee should therefore examine records of such stockings and bring in independent fishery experts [not having had a previous contract with any government department in the N.I.O] to establish the level of damage to our wild fisheries as a result of such practices and to make recommendations as to the future wisdom of such a policy. In respect of what has been outlined immediately above the Committee should order the Fishery Division to discontinue the present stocking policy until a strategy for the recovery of our wild fisheries is in place. The stocking of rivers and reservoirs with large hatchery reared brown trout which are almost immediately removed is not a sound basis for the development of a tourism industry [almost any country which has standing water in any form can do it]. On one occasion I personally was fishing an upland reservoir, catching and releasing trout from Movanagher which had just been stocked, looking in the process for evidence of disease which might spread to indigenous wild fish, when I was assaulted by a group of anglers who had been tipped off that the consignment was coming. I was castigated for releasing the fish which are subsequently more difficult to catch. The group responsible informed me that they had trade outlets for their catch, which helps offset the price of the Fishery Division permit for fishing such places. Any increase in the price of that permit to finance and expansion of Movanagher would only increase such practices, until a strategy for our fisheries is developed and accountability is restored. Committee members should study the relevant sections of the Price Waterhouse report in respect of the expansion of the capacity of the state owned hatchery at Movanagher, making note of those problems which exist at the site, with limitations on space, the necessity for antibiotics which is a practice shortly to be abandoned, and the dubious water quality which has historically resulted in diseased fish being stocked into wild fisheries. Members should take note of the advice given to the Fishery Division by a trout farmer as to the expenditure which would be required for the expansion and make efforts to ascertain if this is the same trout farmer who received the transportation license from the Fishery Division to move commercial fish to the then unlicensed site detailed in the section marked confidential and whether the trout farmer was under contract at the time in respect of the advice given and subsequently included in the Price Waterhouse report.

7. The Committee should commission field studies into fishery habit, flow rates on rivers, water quality, clarity paying particular attention to all those matters which it has been asked to investigate and which may be relevant on river systems on Northern Ireland, disregarding in the process any surveys earlier completed by any organisation which [may have been contracted earlier to any government department in the N.I.O] or any survey which may have been completed earlier for the purpose of securing any finance from any organisation or agency. In that commissioning the Committee may decide that expertise may be necessary from outside the region or alternatively, suitably qualified graduates from local universities may be employed, in order that fresh ideas and talent be immediately injected into fishery matters here. The results of the studies, which may as a matter of interest be compared to those already in the possession of government departments here, can then be used as a basis for preparing a strategy to develop fisheries in the region.

8. The Committee should establish a commission to investigate private fisheries in the province and the legal claims to hereditary fishing rights, in the process seeking to establish the legality of such claims to private fisheries and determining whether the exercise of those rights has conflicted with the sound running of the public angling estate. As a result of such an investigation the Committee may decide that the exercising of those rights historically may have contributed nothing to the common good and that those rights would be better vested in the public estate. If that should prove to be the case then the manner in which those rights were historically operated should be taken into account when deciding if any compensation should be payable.

9. The Committee should investigate commercial catch returns for every species of freshwater fish in Northern Ireland's waterways, particularly salmon and trout and from every site where commercial netting or trapping occurs, bringing before the people's parliament members of the Fishery Division and compelling them, by whatever means the members find appropriate, to divulge information for the past thirty years and disregarding any attempt to prevail on Committee members, by any member of that department, that the data is commercially sensitive information, in the process examining the records of any dealers who purchased any species of freshwater fish particularly salmon or trout during that period and seeking to establish if the dealers records tally with declared catches. The Committee should investigate the high seas drift net operation for Atlantic salmon, the netting of salmon in estuaries and freshwater, in boxes, bag nets or by any other means, inquiring of members of the Fishery Division what steps it took over the years to balance the commercial pressure on the species with the escapement to rivers necessary to maintain the health of the species to develop tourism. The Committee should bring before it members of the Fishery Division and inquire as to what conservation methods they attempted to institute on rivers in the way of convincing angling clubs and individuals to adopt a measure of catch and release in respect of salmon and trout in order to maintain healthy species numbers, irrespective of the failure to control commercial netting and trapping and ask members of the Department to produce evidence of any recommendations in the form of correspondence with clubs or individuals or press releases on this subject. Members of the Committee should inquire what efforts the Fishery Division has made in respect of setting aside areas on upland rivers which can be defined within limits as sanctuary areas where returning adult salmon have peace from angling attention until a satisfactory spawning is effected. Members should inquire what efforts the Fishery Division has made in respect of placing fish counters at strategic locations on rivers in order that a better evaluation of salmon returns to rivers be obtained and why angling clubs were not encouraged in their Peace and Reconciliation projects to apply for money for this purpose. Committee members may wish to ask the Fishery Division to produce correspondence with angling clubs and individual or press releases on the subject where as a condition of the receipt of Peace and Reconciliation funding for the alleged improvement of fishery waters under the control of angling clubs or private rod fisheries, including rod syndicate waters, the division attempted to persuade those interests to submit annual returns, properly witnessed and signed, of individual catches of salmon and trout killed whether in competitions or at any other time, or returned alive, in order that a management regime be developed to maintain fishery productivity.

10. The Committee should bring in fishery management experts from outside the region [who have not previously had contracts with any government department in the Northern Ireland Office] and commission an investigation into flow rates and control of water rights on the lower river Bann in order that a flow management regime be devised which allows escapement of returning summer salmon to Lough Neagh and it's strategically important rivers, disregarding any previous studies into this matter or any public money spent on them. Committee members should call directors of Bann Systems Ltd before them and secure day by day rod catch returns of summer salmon behind the weir at Carnroe and it's other angling stations on the lower Bann for the past thirty years, examining in the process individual daily catches and determining whether, if a suitable result came from the flow rate study, a proportion of the catch would not be better escaping to Lough Neagh and those rivers desperately in need of developing their tourism potential. In the process Committee members would do well to take a peep at the prices charged by Bann Systems Ltd for a day's salmon fishing at it's stations on the lower Bann and determine if the prices are within the reach of any visiting angler or indeed any other mortal. The Committee should instruct the independent fishery management agents which it commissions to investigate flow rates on the lower Bann to survey what has been described as a fish pass on the weir at Carnroe to see if it is adequate, should sufficient water be released from Lough Neagh at strategic times, to allow salmon unhindered passage in the summer to Lough Neagh and it's rivers. The Committee should direct Bann Systems to make available, irrespective of any information which may or may not be supplied by the Fishery Division on the subject as outlined in section 9, details of numbers of salmon taken for the past thirty years at any netting, trapping, or private rod fisheries which it controls on the lower Bann and take into account this information when considering any responsibilities the Committee may wish to exercise under section 8. The Committee should investigate any payment which was devised by the Fishery Division, secured from the Peace and Reconciliation settlement of the E.E.U. and paid to Bann Systems Ltd to compensate that company for two successive years of not operating it's trapping operation of salmon at the Cutts and compare the rod catch returns at Carnroe for the same company during the two years when it was in receipt of the compensation for not exercising it's option, deliberating in the process whether the payment of the compensation out of Peace and Reconciliation funding was in keeping with the spirit of the E.E.U. scheme. The Committee may wish to consider whether Bann Systems Ltd co-operated with any study previously in place in respect of determining adequate flow rates on the lower Bann [guess who carried out the study!] sufficient to allow summer salmon to escape to Lough Neagh and to call members of the Fishery Division and executive members of the Fishery Conservancy Board for Northern Ireland to give evidence to Committee members and produce copies of correspondence in respect of the level of co-operation which Bann Systems displayed towards any previous flow monitoring study on the Lower Bann. The Committee may wish to consider that under the confidential proposals for hydro-electric plants in N.F.F.O.2 which fortunately are in my possession, Bann Systems Ltd had submitted for consideration a proposal for a hydro-electric plant at the Cutts why I believe is still under consideration. Members will be aware by now that fishery protection measures at the sites already licensed were less than satisfactory and in some cases practically non existent. While failure to fit proper screens at one plant on one river flowing into Lough Neagh might mean the deaths of a large proportion of salmon juveniles on that one river system, the same occurrence at a plant on the lower Bann could theoretically destroy most of one year's juvenile salmon production on all of Lough Neagh's rivers, as all of the juveniles have to pass down the lower Bann to the sea. At the time that the proposals by Bann Systems were being leaked around angling clubs to look for trouble makers who might raise objections an article appeared in an issue of the Ulster Angling Federation magazine to the effect that Bann Systems Ltd might cease its trapping operation at the Cutts if the plant was approved, thus meaning slightly more salmon in Lough Neagh's rivers and that .. This would be a good deal. Committee members would do well to investigate this matter and any correspondence between government departments in the N.I.O. and the company in respect of this proposal or any others or with any individual involved in the supply of generating equipment who might hold a monopoly in the supply of such equipment. Those confidential proposals are included for the edification of Committee members who would be advised to study them closely and launch a full-scale investigation into the manner in which N.F.F.O. policy was implemented by government departments in the N.I.O.

11. In respect of laws to protect rivers and waterways in Northern Ireland the Committee would do well to disregard the recent Proposals for a Draft Water Order and its contents, compelling those responsible for it's compilation to submit to a full and rigorous examination, particularly in respect of any proposed exemptions to any proposals in the order, examining in the process any correspondence with any water user or vested interest in respect of supposed advice about any matter contained in those proposals and taking advice rather from those who have a knowledge of and sympathy for the workings of natural systems and [who have not previously been contracted to any government department in the N.I.O. in respect of any consultancy or any other matter and are not a member of any board or quango appointed by any government department in the N.I.O. or are not in any representational body or organisation which relies in whole or part for funding from any government department in the N.I.O. by any means however obscure].

The Committee would be well advised to select members, suitably interested in environmental matters, from every party represented in the Committee and dispatch them at the taxpayers expense, which is justified in the present dire circumstance, to North America to investigate the running of fisheries and protection of waterways there under the guidance of the American wildlife and fisheries agencies becoming acquainted in the process of the workings of such legislation as is in place there to protect river systems from the ravages of polluters and water abstractors [congress was eventually forced some years ago, faced with the collapse of Pacific salmon stocks, to legislate to protect river systems from the worst excesses of hydro-electrical power generation which were even then better in the sense of mitigation of fishery damage than some present protection measures in force here, in that at least the agencies could be trusted to enforce what legislation was in place]

On return those members of the Committee entrusted by the people to secure the necessary information, should consult with senior officials in the Irish Central Fisheries Board and Regional Fisheries [who have by honest effort developed angling to the extent where it is a major tourism revenue earner] and those in Northern Ireland who by lack of any financial dependence on any government department in the N.I.O. can therefore be trusted to supply reliable information, draw up guidelines for a new Draft Water Order, repealing in the process the Fishery Act for Northern Ireland. [This particularly rotten piece of legislation is riddled with get out clauses and exemptions inserted as a result of lobbying at the time of it's compilation to promote the wealth of private self centred interest.]

When the necessary guidelines for a new Draft Water Order and Fisheries Act have been drawn up the Committee should call before it officials from those departments responsible for matters in respect of fisheries and river environments, instructing them to draft legislation for the two new Acts, directing them to adhere strictly to the guidelines set out by the Committee and warning them in the process of the direst consequences in the event of any inclusion unauthorised by the Committee in respect of any section, sub-section, clause, or any possible exemption hidden in obscure dialogue which might thwart the objectives of the Committee in drawing up the orders. On enactment of the new legislation, including the necessary penalties for non-compliance, the Committee might wish to debate the following proposal.

A. The removal from the Fishery Division any responsibility vested in it in respect of the following areas;

The protection and development of fisheries as required in the Fishery Act, the licensing of commercial trout farms, commercial rainbow trout fattening ponds, ornamental ponds or any other establishment in freshwater or in the marine environment where fish are reared for commercial purposes. The issuing of culture licenses for any establishment where commercially reared fish are housed. The monitoring of any such establishment for the use of any chemical used for the treatment or prevention of any disease and the monitoring of any such establishment for any notifiable disease including the monitoring of disease in wild fisheries. The issuing of transportation licenses for the removal and sale of any commercially reared fish in any such establishment whether licensed or not. The issuing of culture licenses for any hatchery for the stocking of private waters and the transportation of fish to and from any such hatchery. The issuing of exemption certificates for any establishment where water is drawn for motive power or for the purposes of rearing commercial fish or hatcheries engaged in the production of fish for any other purposes. The promotion of game or coarse fish angling. The raising of revenue from any sales of any permit issued in respect of game or coarse fish angling. The control of angling waters including any public reservoir leased from the Department of the Environment, private lake or Lough leased from any private individual under any scheme, river fishery whether under the control of the Fishery Division or leased from any private individual or in the hands of any angling club under any agreement entered into by officials of that angling club and that department. The control, ownership and responsibility for the day to day working of the state hatchery at Movanagher on the lower Bann and the Salmon Research Station and hatchery on the river Bush at Bushmills handing over to the Committee in the process for the purpose of scrutiny such records as exist in respect of number of fish reared, genetic lines, survival rates of fry, disease records, details of stockings, food bills, overheads, sales and receipts .. scrutiny of records from Movanagher should take up but little of the Committee's time and all such assets in the form of transporters, computers, weed cutting machines, prefabricated fish passes [there are some who believe that the purchase of fish passes was to try to relieve future difficulties at weirs where most of the flows were diverted through N.F.F.O. hydro-plants] all terrain vehicles and any other items associated with fishery business, in any place, whether purchased from departmental budgets or through funding from any organisation including the Peace and Reconciliation settlement of the E.E.U.

B. The removal from the Department of the Environment or the Environment and Heritage Agency where responsibilities lie with that agency in respect of the following;

The monitoring of consented discharges from any establishment whether commercial or private or from any government agency to any river, lake, stream, river estuary, or any other waterway or underground stratum where there is access to any waterway. The establishment of any register of any public companies or government agencies for the purposes of controlling pollution or the disposal of polluting matter. Crown immunity against charges in respect of any pollution from any agency of the D.O.E. in particular the Water Executive Agency regarding the operation of sewage treatment or water treatment works using aluminium sulphate [lethal to fish and responsible for some of the worst pollution episodes in Northern Ireland's history, all well hidden up]. The monitoring of water quality at any station on any river or waterway in Northern Ireland. The granting of any consented discharge under the present water Act or any future Water Order that the Committee chooses to approve to any river, stream, river estuary, lake or underground stratum. The granting of any license to abstract water to any private individual or company, for hydro-electric power generation, commercial trout farming or any other purpose, from any river, lake, stream, river estuary or underground water reserve. The setting of standards for drinking water quality and the application for derogation's from E.E.C. bodies in respect of higher than recommended levels of residual aluminium in drinking water [members might wish to inquire about any derogation's currently in place]. The monitoring of any leacheate from any dump where the leacheate has access to any waterway both in respect of the official dumps [licensed] and the unofficial ones. [Those the D.O.E. knows about and thinks no-one else does.] The preparation, testing, and recording of any sample from any alleged pollution event on any waterway, the preparation of any documentation for the prosecution of any alleged offence in this respect, or the issuing of any "written warning" to any individual or company in respect of any alleged pollution event where the D.O.E. determines that a prosecution is not warranted, for whatever reason .. [this should save considerable paper].

C. The disbanding of the Fishery Conservancy Board for Northern Ireland and the repealing of the Fishery Act

The winding up of the board's affairs including such policing duties as it carries out under it's remit in respect of pollution, illegal fishing operations, scrutiny of licenses and the raising of revenue from any form of license duty in respect of fisheries in Northern Ireland and cessation of all board duties whether carried out in an executive form or through appointees made to the board by any vested interest, agency or government department and the freezing of such assets as the board uses for it's everyday functioning in respect of its remit except for the paying of salaries which should come under the auspices of the Committee until a properly appointed and competent body is installed to police fisheries in Northern Ireland. In the interim bailiffing duties should come under a member of the Committee appointed to oversee these necessary everyday tasks. There should not be any fear about any widespread damage during the period in which the board ceases to function up to the time a new authority is established. Bailiffing duties to prevent pollution and poaching are at a barely existing level due to successive cuts in the settlement grant by the policy makers in the Former Department of Agriculture and the polluters were always of the opinion that they had everything their own way. I have some sympathy with the Fishery Conservancy Board in it's historic predicament, blackmailed as it was into submission in respect of courageous decisions which needed to be taken from time to time about the protection of our lamentable fisheries by the threat of removal of the settlement grant by the policy makers in the Fishery Division and much more for the bailiffs at the bottom of the heap, in particular Mr William Owens of my own region who carried out his duties courageously over the years against a background of collusion and rottenness that defied belief.

12. In requesting the Committee to investigate the matters which are now placed before it for consideration, I, and my colleagues, are well aware that irrespective of any conclusions the Committee may agree that our fisheries are at present lamenting in a position, in which they are morally leaderless and without any clear objectives or long term strategy which would enable them to realistically contribute to the common good of the people in this region. With this in mind and bearing in mind the suggestions put forward to Committee members in section 11 on which we feel there are no other practical alternatives, we thought it would be constructive to put forward our ideas about how Northern Ireland's fisheries might be run in the future to enable them to become a revenue earning asset in a renewable way. With this in mind we would be grateful if the Committee would consider the following.

In respect of investment there is no doubt that there has been little in the way of development in Northern Ireland's inland fisheries over the past twenty years until the recent E.E.U. peace and reconciliation support which I have grave doubts about in any event, believing that it was a temporary shot in the arm for a critically ill patient which in some instances, in particular our own, did more harm than good and I would advise the Committee to ask the E.E.U. funders to suspend any further payments until accountability is fully restored. In respect of funding generally I would like Committee members to consider this. If Northern Ireland's rivers had not received a penny of investment over the years but rather had some enlightened management of commercial fishing and control over the worst of angling techniques and limits, competent policy makers, just laws in respect of pollution and water abstraction and trustworthy agencies to enforce those laws, they would be in a position now to earn a respectable income for our people. In most instances our fisheries require no hatcheries, a well tried road government departments in the N.I.O were only too willing to point the finger down over the years, promising greener grass at some later date and money for somebody. Clean water is all that is required and clean agencies. There is a strong argument that, considering the amount of duplication of responsibility and the confusion in respect of those areas of responsibility, that all aspects of fishery policy and the protection of river environments, the protection, development and marketing of fisheries, policing of the public angling estate, the management of commercial fisheries and prosecution of offenders should become the responsibility of one body in which those responsibilities should be vested. Many saving could be made in respect of the stream lining of these services, releasing in the process capital for the development of fisheries and their better future protection. It is the recommendation therefore of those who compiled this report, that a Northern Marine and Inland Fisheries Agency be established in which those responsibilities removed from the Department of the Environment, The Fishery Division and the former Fishery Conservancy Board for Northern Ireland be vested. A ministerial post for Fisheries should be created assuming responsibility for the new agency. The agency should have full responsibility for revenue collection in respect of any commercial fishing licensing system, game angling permits or licenses, the registering of any company on any pollution control register, fees for the monitoring of any consent or for any water abstraction license or the monitoring of compliance with any such licensing system [the taxpayer has been robbed of much needed revenue which could have been used to alleviate the defect in the accounts of the public angling estate by the failure of government departments in the N.I.O to secure revenue from private companies for these services] and including any compensation to the new agency decided by the courts for non compliance with any legislation in any new Orders or damages for any acts of pollution. If the agency decides it is necessary, for the non exercising of any commercial fishing rights previously established, to protect species numbers or better use existing fishery assets to develop tourism, [there are imaginative ideas, not explored formerly of course, about how these aims could be achieved] the agency may decide to use it's own funding to pay compensation to those established fishing rights to alleviate any hardship to families historically involved in commercial fishing for any species but particularly the Atlantic salmon.

13. Vital to the future good management of fisheries and the protection of freshwater and marine environments in the region is the management structure of the new agency, particularly a clear definition of where various responsibilities lie and how accountability to the Committee is maintained. With that in mind a suggested structure for consideration is as follows:



THE ADVISORY COUNCIL TO THE NORTHERN [not the board, please god]










Uniquely this proposed structure brings under one common authority [the Committee] all the diverse elements formerly associated with marine and freshwater environments and enables the Committee, if the new management structure is adopted, to weed out those who for thirty years allowed our fisheries to languish in an unmanaged condition while vested interests pursued their own agenda at will.

In that process a chance must be given to the young and especially those who have laboured their way through the university system and with suitable qualifications in the environmental sciences, wait eagerly to put their years of study to the test and serve the people.

In the creation of a post of Minister for Fisheries finally will come the acceptance, as with the vesting of powers taken from those bodies formerly responsible in the new body, that to protect marine and freshwater environments a purpose has to be served and that purpose is the development of the tourism generating aspect of angling as a revenue earning asset in the hands of the people and the sustainable management of commercial fishing enterprises. To attempt that process with anything remotely resembling the past structures or personnel in place will only end in disaster. Neither are fit for the task. The Minister for fisheries will be responsible to the Committee for all aspects of fisheries in Northern Ireland and those of the marine and freshwater environment including all of those areas of responsibility formerly within the remit of the Departments of Agriculture and Environment. The Minister will, with assistance and advice from the Chief Executive and Advisory Council of the Northern Marine and Inland Fisheries Agency and the support of the Northern Ireland Committee, bring forward proposals to those cross border bodies, on which he or she is by the mandate of the people empowered to serve, in respect of a common approach to the sustainable management of marine and freshwater commercial fisheries and in particular that of the Atlantic salmon high sea drift net and inshore fishery. The Minister will, by seeking advice again from those quarters already indicated and more widely if necessary, seek a common approach in respect of setting legislative standards to protect river systems and the marine environment in both parts of the island and assist in developing a sustainable approach to angling in order that it assumes its rightful place as a revenue earner for the people.

The post of Chief Executive of the Northern Marine and Inland Fisheries Agency will be advertised in the press both here and abroad and the appointment will be a decision for the newly established Environment Committee of the Northern Ireland Committee. The Chief Executive will be responsible to the Minister for all aspects of fisheries, marine and freshwater environments in the region and the workings of those divisions within the body of the Agency through the Advisory Council on which he will also serve as chairman. While the Chief Executive will be responsible for decision making, that will only be a lawful as a result of debate within the advisory council.

The Advisory Council will scrutinise the day to day workings of the divisions within the Agency paying particular attention to the monthly reports drawn up by the managers of the various divisions in respect of performance targets and advising the Chief Executive where there is good reason to believe that those targets may not be achieved, recommending in the process possible courses of action, on which the Chief Executive will have the final say. The advisory council will also develop strategies for the re-habilitation of fisheries, their future development and protection, advising the Minister through the Chief Executive when necessary if changes of legislation is required, and liase with the Projects and Conservation and the Water Quality and Control Divisions of the Agency in this respect. The Advisory Council will draw up an annual report for the Minister and the Assembly including;

1. A full financial report of the Agency's business during the year and that of any asset under it's control. [No more scandals like the years of missing records in the State Hatchery at Movanagher]

2. A comprehensive report on the annual verified commercial catch for every species of fish caught in freshwater and marine environments and detailed projections as to overall population numbers in the future [it can be done .. other countries are doing it].

3. Details of reported infringements of legislation, the prosecution of offenders and recovery of costs and damages.

4. A detailed report on how the agency's efforts have contributed to tourism revenue during the year and any future projects in respect of the development of this field.

5. An accurate account from every angling club in the Agency's region of what progress is being made in respect of conserving fish numbers by limiting the number of fish killed by anglers, the designation of sanctuary areas and the promotion of catch and release policies.

6. An account of the workings of any private fishery, held under whatever title or right, in order that the Committee may decided if the common good is being served by it's continued existence and any recommendations from the council in this respect.

7. A report into how relationships between angling bodies and the agency are developing including what steps the Council has taken to encourage free debate in fishery matters, the promotion of religious and cultural to tolerance in angling associations and the furtherance of democratic principles.

It is recommended that members of the Advisory Council be appointed by the Environment Committee of the Committee, for a five year period, in order that projects be properly carried through to completion and draw no salary for their efforts other than travel expenses which are properly accounted. It is recommended that the Advisory Council be comprised of twelve members from suitably experienced environmental and angling interests [but not including any person who has previously been salaried by or contracted in a consultative or any other fashion to any government department in the N.I.O or has any business interest that would conflict with his duties to the people], representatives of tourism and regional development agencies [again with the safeguards mentioned above], a suitable number of council representatives and a balanced representation from commercial fishing interests. Because of the gravity of the situation it is recommended that those with knowledge in the field of angling and the environment are suitably represented. Advisory Council members should be asked to give a sworn declaration in respect of business interests. With these safeguards in place we should avoid the collusion and promotion of vested interests so typical of the past era.

The Northern Marine and Inland Fishery Water Quality and Control Division will be responsible for the implementation of any new Water Order and any applicable sections of any revised or new Fishery Act passed by the Committee and the monitoring of the standards set by that Order or Act. This division will also be responsible for revenue collection in respect of fixed charges for all those with licensed consents. It will also charge fair rates for all those abstracting water from the environment for any purpose especially trout farms and motive power operations and the monitoring of any such abstraction [including any other government agencies and without any exemptions for those N.F.F.O hydro-electric developers granted licenses previously!] and charge for the licensing of any future abstraction for any purpose where it can be proved that damage to the environment or any fishery can be avoided, charging fees for the monitoring of any subsequent abstraction. The N.M.A.I.F.A Water Quality and Control Division will assume responsibility for all those functions in respect of the freshwater and marine environment, including estuaries, formerly within the remit of the Department of the Environment and Environment and Heritage Agency of that department. The Division will also, as a result of monitoring of consents and abstractions, recommend to the Waterway Protection and Criminal Prosecutions Division in respect of breaches of any consent or water abstraction license where prosecution is necessary and also investigate pollution instances, collecting evidence for the prosecution of offenders and the recovery of costs and damages.

The Northern Marine and Inland Fishery Commercial Angling Licensing Division and Accounts will, with recommendations from the Projects and Conservation Division in respect of fish populations and sustainable levels of exploitation, issue licenses to the commercial fishing industry in respect of all species of fish harvested in our freshwater and marine environment including crustaceans and shell fish. [Charging realistic fees in the process as a means of revenue generation, which is in itself a deterrent to over exploitation.] The Division will also collect revenue from angling permits and licenses, acting in the process as a central revenue collection agency for the whole of the N.M.A.I.F.A, responsible for all costs incurred in the workings of the Agency and the payment of all expenses, salaries etc. Any damages or costs awarded to the Criminal Prosecutions Division in respect of legal action against any offender will also be payable to this Agency as will any angling tourism tariff or any other revenue generation measure in respect of fisheries or charge payable from any private rod fishery.

The Northern Marine and Inland Fishery Waterway Protection and Criminal Prosecutions Division will act as policeman for the public angling and fishery estate, pursuing offenders in respect of poaching and illegal commercial fishing, checking licenses for all commercial fisheries both inshore and on the high seas. It will also check angling licenses and permits issued by the licensing division, prosecuting offenders in respect of all infringements of any licenses, both commercial and angling and any matter reported to it by any other Division especially the Water Quality and Control Division. It will seek in any legal proceedings fair costs and damages for any pollution, breach of consent or any other breach of legislation where damage to fisheries or the aquatic environment takes place transferring any awards to the Accounts division. The division will also appoint bailiffs, properly sworn in by the courts, to act in the agency's interests. Those bailiffs will be responsible for all matters within the division's remit including the monitoring of methods used to harvest commercial fish under any license as deemed appropriate by the Conservation and Projects Division and any designation by that division in respect of methods used and numbers of fish taken by anglers. Those bailiffs will also monitor any sanctuary areas designated by the Conservation and Projects Division to maintain acceptable levels of breeding populations.

The Northern Marine and Inland Fisheries Agency Projects and Conservation Division will be the power house for the future development of fisheries in the region preparing a strategy in co-operation with the Advisory Council to be submitted to the Committee for approval and any funding that may be required [funding must play a lesser role until just laws to protect rivers and fisheries are in place and competent agencies created which can be trusted to enforce those laws]. This division will be responsible for the creation of a sustainable balance between the commercial and angling exploitation of fish populations and their long-term viability by the scientific monitoring of breeding populations and their age classes. The division may designate sanctuary areas where no type of exploitation can take place in order that those aims are fulfilled. The division will decide initially those areas of our rivers and waterways which for reasons of inept drainage schemes or otherwise, have a less than adequate juvenile recruitment or angling potential and submit plans to the Advisory Council for their restoration taking care in the process to use proper evaluatory methods in any necessary surveys. In any restoration works, tenders submitted by private companies or individuals must be scrutinised by the Advisory Council to maintain accountability to the Committee. The division will also rule in matters concerning the harvesting of commercial fish especially net size, quotas, length of season and monitor catches so that species populations can be maintained and must have the right to suspend commercial fishing for any species when breeding populations are in danger of falling to levels which threaten sustainable exploitation. Similarly the division will have the authority to take decisions on angling methods, catch limits and length of season and be able to suspend angling activity on any fisheries where population numbers fall to dangerous levels [particularly important in the case of the Atlantic salmon where unregulated angling pressure can be as damaging as over-exploitation by commercial fishing]. This division will, by the necessity of its vital work, take priority when any surplus funds are available after the agency has achieved a satisfactory financial balance.

With the above structures and safeguards in place it is believed that fisheries in Northern Ireland will be in a better condition to face the future. According to the Price Waterhouse report commissioned in 1997 the public angling estate is in financial deficit [where reliable figures could be obtained] and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. The reasons are plain. Those who have used our rivers and fisheries for whatever purpose for a quarter of a century .. have in most instances paid little or nothing for the privilege and accrued large profits in the process, assisted in that task by those agencies and departments who were entrusted by the people to keep their assets sound until their differences could be settled. The income derived, justly from those sources indicated above will provide welcome relief faced with the enormity of the task ahead. If nothing else a much needed change of personnel on the decision making side will give an impetus to that task.


In the compilation of this request for an inquiry and in the outline suggestions for new structures and laws for the better management and protection of waterways and fisheries I have, with those who assisted me, relied heavily on past experience in the management of those assets. The information therefore is an amalgamation of the personal experiences of those few who, convinced that better and honest management could provide something constructive for the future, held on until the bitter end against a background of apathy and collusion with vested interests, which on many occasions defied belief. In most instances those who wielded inordinate power in respect of those issues the Committee is asked to investigate, did so in my opinion, in a manner unlikely to further the common good or promote democratic principles. I condemn them for it. I am reminded of a statement by the previous Minister for Agriculture Baroness Denton. In an interview after her term of office was over she complained that many of the officials in the departments for which she was responsible "did not act in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland and ran the country like a public limited company". I would fully support that statement. I can only conclude that what has been outlined to Committee members is best prevented by the exercising of rigorous public accountability and the promotion of the aims of free speech and the democratic principle.


In compiling this report I am taking this opportunity to commend to The New Northern Ireland Committee the following individuals:

Mr Daniel Brown, former chairman of the Lough Neagh and Maine Systems Game Anglers Association until that association was broken up, in recognition of his contribution to fisheries in N.I. over many years, his loyalty and courageous support for the principle of free speech.

Mr Frank Quigley, editor of Angling Ireland and his wife Eva for their unwavering support and friendship over the years, in often trying circumstances. That this request for an inquiry is finally before the Committee is a tribute to their unstinting support for rivers, fisheries and environmental causes in a difficult period for Ireland.

Mr Dan Kinney, deputy editor of the Newsletter, for his unselfish help to Danny Brown and myself after the Lough Neagh and Maine System Game Anglers Association was broken up, in continuing to keep faith with us and allowing us the space to place our views in the public domain.

Mr Brian Black, Environmental Correspondent of U.T.V. for his courage and kindness in securing media time for two outcasts.

Mr Kevin Magee, Environmental Correspondent of the B.B.C. for his support and tenacity in reporting environmental issues.

Dr Ian Paisley, my Member of Parliament and the many other Members in this region, from every political persuasion, for their help in securing answers from government departments in the N.I.O. in sometimes difficult circumstances.

Mr William Owens, Fishery Conservancy Board bailiff for the river Maine, in recognition of his courage, public dedication and unselfish efforts over the years in trying to protect our river from those who saw it only as an entry in a profit and loss account.

Mr Tommy Conlon, angling columnist with the Tyrone Times, courageous environmental campaigner and long standing friend of Danny, Frank and myself.

Finally, but not least, my wife Catherine and daughter Laura for their unselfish support and immense patience during five difficult years.


Annex 17



20 October 2000

In reading the written submissions to the Committee Inquiry, submitted by Mr H Avery, I am appalled at the numerous inaccuracies and untruths contained therein.

The letter dated 10 June 2000 is of particular concern.


As Chairman of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NI) I spent many hours, over two years, at my own expense, sourcing funding to enable NASF to employ a Development Officer. Dr Paul Johnston who made an oral submission to the Inquiry on 5 October 2000 was subsequently employed on a part-time basis. I would add that DANI Fisheries Division refused to support our request for funding from Leader Groups (this made our task more difficult!).


The clubs which left Lough Neagh and Maine Systems Game Anglers Association did so because of the negative approach to the Salmonid Enhancement Programme by Mr Brown and Mr Avery. The Maine Enhancement Partnership which was set up in 1996 to develop the river system with SEP has all seven clubs on the system, including Mr Brown's and Mr Avery's clubs, in membership.


I have contacted Mr Ross who has no recollection of comments attributed to him.

I am greatly concerned that these grossly inaccurate and untrue statements in this submission, if placed in the public demesne, could be damaging to angling organisations and myself. For example, a potential "funder", on reading this material, could understandably be influenced and refuse funding. I therefore request that these slanderous papers are excluded from the Committee's report into Inland Fisheries.