The Central Fisheries Board recently established a Coarse Fish Policy Review Group comprising of expert fisheries staff representing both the North and South of Ireland with a view to developing an informed national policy on coarse fish and angling. The group held a workshop in Mullingar Park Hotel, Mullingar on Thursday 24th November to present their draft recommendations to all stakeholders, guests and experts.

Despite the cold weather, over 85 people attended the meeting travelling from all over Ireland and from Northern Ireland and the UK. The morning session consisted of a series of presentations from some review group members and experts in the field from Northern Ireland including Dr Robert Rosell, Department of Agriculture, Northern Ireland and dedicated anglers from the Coarse Angling Action Group and the National Coarse Fish Federation of Ireland. A range of issues were discussed including: Legislation, angling, marketing, research methods, stock levels and coarse fish health. The draft bye-law was also presented. The draft bye-law permits an angler to take four coarse fish per angler per day once no fish is greater than 25cm in length. This law will ensure the protection of spawning populations and set a limit that all anglers must adhere to.

After lunch, more than 70 dedicated attendees stayed to discuss the issues affecting our coarse fishery in what proved to be a very successful workshop. The attendees were spilt into 5 active panels and each panel was asked to discuss 5 topics: Legislation, Environmental Issues, Development needs, Communication and Co-operation and Monitoring and Development. All discussions and suggestions were noted and the groups reached agreement and consensus on a number of issues.

The main issues and suggestions made by the panels to the review group were:
1) The threat of invasive species: all groups were in agreement that there is an urgent need for a public awareness campaign to prevent the importation and spread of invasive species in order to protect current coarse fish species

2) The need for marketing and PR was also discussed. All groups agreed that there needs to be a specialised and coordinated strategy in place to market coarse angling as it offers angling tourists a fantastic offer, we need to stop marketing what we don’t have and focus on what good quality products are available

3) Ban on the killing of coarse fish: the majority of attendees favoured a blanket ban on the killing of coarse fish

4)The need for Research: all agreed that research is paramount with regard to coarse fish and that adequate funding should be provided to increase research capabilities

5) Angling permits: some panels advocated the introduction of coarse angling permits under the strict condition that they were to be used to generate funds for fisheries management and protection

The overall feedback from all attendees was positive and all parties agreed that this review was a step forward in ensuring we all work together to protect our valuable coarse fishery. ‘I am very pleased with the turnout and extremely impressed with the level of constructive debate that took place in the afternoon. It clearly demonstrates how passionate and dedicated our stakeholders are with regard to coarse fishing. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for taking the time to attend and participate’, stated Dr Joe Caffrey, Chairman of the Coarse Fish Policy Review Group.

The discussions generated at this workshop will be collated by the review group and considered in the final drafting of the policy report. This report will then be forwarded to the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources for their consideration.
For further information, please contact Hazel Dobbyn, PR Officer, Central Fisheries Board, 01-8842656/087 9918608
1) Members of the Coarse Fish Review Group are as follows: Dr Joe Caffrey (Chairman), Senior Research Officer, Central Fisheries Board; Paul Bourke, Angling Officer, Central Fisheries Board; Matt Nolan, Fisheries Inspector, Shannon Regional Fisheries Board; Karen Griffin, Assistant Fisheries Inspector, Shannon Regional Fisheries Board; Michael Fitzpatrick, Fisheries Inspector, Northern Regional Fisheries Board; Pat Doherty, Acting CEO, Eastern Regional Fisheries Board; Kieran Murphy, Director of Field Services, Central Fisheries Board and Dr Robert Rosell, Biologist, Department of Agriculture, Northern Ireland.

2) Existing coarse fishing laws are as follows:

a. The only legal method to catch freshwater fish is by rod and line (Bye-law No.595).

b. A person may fish with not more than two rods at any time (Bye-law No.595)

c. It is illegal to have or to use live fish as bait (Bye-law No.592).

d. It is illegal to transfer live roach from one water to any other waters (Bye-law No.561).
Hazel Dobbyn,
PR & Communications Officer,
Central Fisheries Board,
Swords Business Campus,
Balheary Road,
Co Dublin
Direct line: 353-1-884 2656
Fax: 353-1-836 0060