One fisherman lands 1200kgs of pike in a week: Councillor

Published: 6 Jan 2013 09:303 comments

Concern has been expressed about the number of pike being netted out of Lough Erne and its possible impact on tourist angling.

Brian McCaffrey, a Sinn Fein member of Fermanagh District Council, said he had been contacted by a member of the public alarmed that 1,200 kilos of pike had reportedly been landed by one commercial fisherman in a week.

"If they can pull that out in one week there's not a lot left for the tourist," complained Mr. McCaffrey.

Pike are the biggest predators in Lough Erne. They were once regarded as vermin by anglers, who complained that they ate too many trout. However, pike are now highly regarded as a sporting fish in their own right, attracting tourist anglers to the Erne, hoping to land a specimen weighing 15 kilos or more. Regulations have been introduced to protect these powerful fish. Anyone catching a pike weighing 4 kilos or more must return it alive and unharmed to the water. In addition an angler can only keep one pike under 4 kilos per day.

However, the regulations do not apply to the seven commercial fishermen who took out a licence to net pike on the Erne during the open season from December 1, 2012, to February 28, 2013. Most of them are following a family tradition and their numbers are in decline. Only five of the seven took out the necessary permit to actually go out and set nets on the Erne.

According to the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure there is no restriction on the number of licences it can issue.

"However, the actual number applied for has declined to the current level over a period of time," said a spokesman. "The Department would be able to restrict this number should it be necessary."

The nets men file annual catch returns with the Department.

"The total commercial pike catch on the Erne in the 2011 season was just over 3,500," the spokesman added.

The fish are exported to Europe where they are dished up on the dinner table and in restaurants.

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