Monday, January 29th, 2018: Sean Kyne, TD, Minister with responsibility for the Inland Fisheries Sector, today announced that Inland Fisheries Ireland is to commence fish stock management operations on the Owenriff catchment, near Oughterard, Co. Galway to protect and restore trout stocks which have been impacted by recent introductions of pike to the catchment.

Minister Kyne said: “The Owenriff catchment is one of the most important spawning and nursery tributaries of Lough Corrib, our most renowned wild trout fishery. Previous scientific studies have shown it contributed 15% of the wild trout found in Lough Corrib, and each year thousands of wild trout and salmon migrate upstream into the Owenriff to spawn. I am committed to protecting and rehabilitating the system and welcome IFI’s stock management Plan which I have asked to be implemented immediately,” he added.

Inland Fisheries Ireland will be commencing a focused and intensive effort aimed at reducing the numbers of pike in the Owenriff catchment over the coming year. While pike cannot be completely eradicated, the project will reduce numbers to a level where they are not impacting significantly on salmonid stocks. It is expected that ongoing maintenance operations will be required in future years to help maintain the trout population.

Minister Kyne also emphasised that, in tandem with the stock management plan, Inland Fisheries Ireland is also preparing an Owenriff Fish Population Rehabilitation Plan which aims to ensure trout stocks and habitats are restored and protected, thereby providing the best opportunities for a successful trout population. The plan will be available shortly.

Survey results are currently being compiled and will be available through the website.

Further information on the project can be found in the FAQ (below) and here: Owenriff Stock Management Plan 2018.




Notes: Owenriff

Lough Corrib is a world-renowned wild brown trout fishery, and is economically important to the communities around the lake, providing employment in rural areas in tourism angling and ancillary businesses, as well as providing a valuable amenity for local anglers. It draws thousands of visitors annually to enjoy some of the best brown trout fishing in the world, and also provides quality salmon angling throughout the catchment as well.

Pike are a predatory fish that can reduce stocks of salmon and trout, and their numbers are managed on certain wild trout fisheries that are recognised as internationally important. They can predate heavily on young salmon and trout as they migrate downstream from nursery habitats, and as a result can have a large impact on stocks. Pike are not native to the Owenriff catchment, and their introduction there threatens the sustainability of the catchment as a spawning and nursery habitat for salmon and trout.

In 2007, the then Western Regional Fisheries Board became aware of an introduction of pike into the lakes on the Owenriff River. While pike are found in Lough Corrib, they had never previously been found in the Owenriff. Pike have multiplied rapidly, and are now a serious threat to the salmonid stocks in the Owenriff, and therefore to the continued health of the stock in Lough Corrib.



 Why is there a need for stock management operations on the Owenriff?

Pike are an introduced species to the Owenriff system and are impacting trout and salmon stocks. Stock management will ensure the restoration and conservation of an important natural resource.

What does the stock management plan involve? On a practical level, how is it conducted?

In order to remove pike from the system it is proposed to undertake extensive netting operations on the lakes using both gill and fyke nets early in the year to coincide with the pike spawning season. It is also proposed to electro fish these areas during the same period when weather conditions permit.  However gill netting and electrofishing operations will continue throughout the year with the exception of the months of November and December. The main focus on netting operations will be during January and February to intercept spawning fish with an increased focus on electrofishing during the period May through August when smaller and juvenile pike will be targeted. Electrofishing of the main channel and its tributaries will also be carried out and the type of equipment to be employed will depend on the characteristics of the channels. Weather conditions and water levels will have a major impact on the proposed work programme and, with limited staff resources, it will only be possible to carry out netting operations on three of the lakes at a time.

Will Section 59 competitions be permitted?

In addition to active stock removal by IFI, applications from the local angling club to host Section 59 authorised angling events aimed at removing pike will be considered and monitored by IFI personnel.

How do you isolate Pike from the other fish?

Using the methods outlined above.

Will all pike be removed?

No, it will not be possible to remove all pike. An ongoing maintenance plan will be required to manage stocks into the future.

What happens to the Pike?

Having regard to the remoteness of some of the sites and the difficulties with access, it is proposed that appropriately trained personnel will euthanise pike immediately following capture. The carcasses will be disposed of through a licenced renderer. The significant logistical effort and cost of attempting to relocate the small number of pike likely to be encountered ≥85cm would not be cost effective. To date, including fish stock surveys of the system and the results of four pike angling competitions, no pike ≥85cm have been encountered largely because of the poor trophic status of this largely acidic system. However, if pike ≥ 85cm are encountered at sites where it will be feasible to relocate then every effort will be made to transfer these to a recognised pike fishery.

Are there any potentially negative environmental impacts from this process?

Biosecurity and best practice protocols will be in place to protect against any potential environmental impacts.

How much will it cost?

Should full plan implementation be possible, a cost of approximately €52,000 is estimated.

How many IFI staff are directly involved in this programme?

269 man days will be required – team make up will depend on method used and location.

Why the concentration on the Owenriff?

The Owenriff is now a priority due to recent pike introduction.

Does this mean other areas will have reduced resources?

IFI operates with limited resources and allocates available resources on a prioritised basis.

When are stock management operations due to begin on the Owenriff?

Late January 2018.

When are stock management operations due to be completed on the Owenriff?

The operations will continue throughout 2018

Is the stock management programme being extended to the entire Corrib catchment?

Stock management operations will continue in other designated brown trout lakes in line with IFI policy.

Are you conducting a stock rehabilitation/restoration programme? What is the purpose/goal of that?

Survey results and an Owenriff Fish Population Rehabilitation Plan are being prepared and will be published in late January. The rehabilitation plan is aimed at restoring the system’s salmonid populations