The wonderful Wetlands centre at Ballybay was the venue on Tuesday Night last the 27th March for the first of three Road shows being facilitated by the Irish Angling Development Alliance covering Bio Security during the spring of 2012 at Monaghan, Cavan and Galway venues. The local Ballybay angling club headed by Liam O’ Brien and Sheila Bromley co coordinated the event at local level and the officers of the IADA set the programme and invited some very important speakers on this alarming issue of which little is known in the general public. The event commenced at 8.30pm to facilitate the now busy farming schedule, in front of an audience of thirty plus people from diverse groups including Irish Farmers Association, Irish Angling Development Alliance (IADA), Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), Monaghan County Council and angling clubs from as far Cavan and Newry Co Down. Chairman of the IADA Richard Caplice opened the event by introducing speakers from Monaghan Water Section, Martina Smyth and senior chemist Bernie O’ Flaherty who presented a comprehensive programme on the approach to water quality in Co Monaghan from a local authority perspective. The keen interest shown in this subject was evidenced by the question session that followed and the just praise articulated by the Councillors, Noel Keelan, Seamus Treanor and Aidan Murray. The IADA Secretary Peter Walsh from Dublin then introduced the final two speakers who essentially collaborated in the delivery of a very stark and revealing predicament surrounding all of us with regard to the spread of non native invasive species in Ireland. Dr Catherine Mc Gavigan from Queens University and Dr Joe Caffrey senior scientist from Inland Fisheries Ireland both renowned in their fields conveyed grim and in places frightening facts in relation to the invasion by non native species that presently threaten agriculture and fisheries in Ireland with dire ramifications for the ancillary industries. Angling Tourism will certainly be threatened if not finished, farming damaged, with ominous consequences for communities regarding bank erosion, flooding, water clogging and fish systems will be wiped out if action is not taken now.
The Irish Angling Development Alliance intends to work more closely with the IFA, IFI, Local authorities and other appropriate bodies in an effort to stem the rampant spread of non native invasive species in Ireland and more particularly to prevent the introduction of other more harmful ones which have already been identified just outside our shores. Disinfection programmes are already in place for visiting anglers to our shores and more needs to be done in the areas of awareness, signage and the provision of legislation to halt the spread of this near plague within our shores. The IADA road shows on Bio Security will continue throughout the year while focused lobbying will continue in an effort to create awareness around this very grave problem at local authority and at Government level. Inland Fisheries Ireland are leading a campaign to arrest the spread of invasive’s and are in the vanguard in these islands with regard to scientific research and efforts to combat and eradicate selected species. Dr Joe Caffrey is the leading scientist in charge of this research programme and while he contributes awesomely in his unselfish and generous working and out of hour’s commitment, he and his team deserve to be given more assistance in areas of funding, signage, local regional and national disinfection, local authority awareness and commitment. A salutary word of warning from Dr Caffrey came in the estimate of losses to the UK agriculture industry last year through the spread of only four invasive plants, estimated in the region of £200 million and that coupled with the potential loss of €150 million if the angling tourist industry were to be lost or further damaged, could deal another serious blow to this country in difficult economic times. We must all play our part in stopping the spread.