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NB:This report is based on my opinion and understandings from the meeting and not that of the Faughan Anglers, I was not given any figures or reports first hand this is all from my notes. If you find errors below please contact me to put them correct.
The Faughan Anglers had their AGM on 5th March 2014 to discuss the previous season and changes to the following new 2014 season. Of approximately 800 members there were no more than 100 present which was a poor turn out compared to the previous years AGM.
The meeting opened with a minutes silence for past members and was then followed by the introduction of Ross Brown from the Green party who has been working with the Faughan Anglers on the recent legal case with the DOE. Ross is one or Stephen Agnew’s researchers and introduced himself and explained his roll and the Green party’s role in the illegal dumping situation at Mabouy road.
image courtesy Google maps
He explained they were highly dismayed at the level of dumping with more then 0.5 million tonnes of illegal waste especially along a river protected by the department of the environments scientific survey as an area of special scientific interest (ASSI).
Not only that but they were shocked by the fact that water is being pumped from the river a mile down stream from the dump site for human consumption. They were also shocked that local council would allow such events to happen that not only effected the health of the inhabitants but effects the economic situation as a, “healthy environment supports a healthy economy”.
The full Mills Report shows the extent of the lack of respect for the environment and local people. It also shows the fraudulent monetary value of £34 million in unpaid taxes and an estimated cost of £100 million to clear and decontaminate the area that leaves the local economy out a pocket. Money that could have been put to better use.
The legal battle continues and a debate by MP’s to be held in assembly next week will further raise awareness of the problem. While the legal battle was given a set back when the local court denied the Faughan Anglers case although the Judge’s ruling has still to be released. However the said ruling not going in favour of the Faughan Anglers was only a set back as the Spotlight program and raised awareness by the community means further progress by government and environmental bodies should go smoother.
Mark Durkan is already behind the case and wants to see a full investigation. With £800000 spent so far in the clean up someone has to be accountable. With this process in place the chair asked all members to be vigilant along the river and if they see any dumping or strange activity to get in contact with the authorizes asap.
It was also mentioned that members have noticed a marked decline in wildlife around the Mabouy area with a lack of Kingfishers, Dippers and Otters. These creatures are seen further upstream and well downstream but not in the lagoon area this in itself raises questions as to the contamination being caused. With the cleanup likely to take several years this will possibly be the state of that area for some time.
Catch returns 2013, how many Salmon caught!
Salmon caught was 1773 with 866 being released the average weight was 5lb. These figures are down from 2012 with 300 less salmon being caught but the un seasonably good weather left fishing conditions poor for long spells during the season. I for one only made it out on a handful of occasions with the river so low but managed to land one fresh fish which I kept for the pot. This seemed to be the norm with most returns keeping 1-2 fish with the rest being released which is great news.
The Loughs Agency figures are 1883 up through the counter at Campsie. This would seems low to suggest all but 110 of the counter figure were caught. We know the construction of the counter is prone to error with Salmon able to by pass in high water conditions so we can safely assume 2-3 times this number. It was stated that 80 members did not send in a returns total last season so this leave the figures only 90% complete.
It was emphasized that in future it may be enforced if no return is given then no permit will be issued to that member the following season as this information is important to keeping the river from going catch and release as is the case with DCAL stretches of water on other rivers. If that happens we will be unable to keep those fresh fish and I can personally say that the taste of fresh Atlantic salmon blows out of the water anything you will find in the supermarkets and I would miss that. In the letter I received before the meeting states if no return is made two years in a row that member will be removed from the membership. So guys you have been warned.
Sea Trout 750 caught for the season with a high percentage being released average weight being 1lb. This is up from last year and 2011 so encouraging to see also. I am hopeful that this figure will continue to climb if anglers continue to support catch and release and in so doing support the stock for future generations.
Bailiff Report, rods seized, court cases!
Last season 11 rods were seized, 2 nets plus 6 fish that were un tagged. There are currently 6 cases going through the courts for non permit fishing which has not happened before under the current board. Policing the rivers was undertaken by Loughs Agency staff this season with the cost of the ongoing legal case eating into the bailiffs budget.
There were a few questions from the floor commenting on non action by the bailiffs when called. One member stated ringing them and waiting for them to turn up which never happened. It was mentioned by the chair that the bailiffs can’t be everywhere and they have other rivers to watch but if we had Loughs Agency staff patrolling the river years before without paying then what are we getting for our money now? Extra patrols?
I for one know these guys were seen all over the river so we know they did cover the river but for 23 miles how effective is that for two men? It was stated by the board that members are the first line of action and need to report incidents when they happen not 2 weeks later which sometimes happens. However it is felt that members on a whole turn a blind eye to bad edique on the river and this is not beneficial to the club. As anglers we all need to do our bit to protect the system and our angling so it was encouraged to ask for permits and ring in any strange or bad behaviour.
It was also stated that there is 20 or so warrant card issued to members on the river but my question would be who are they? Do we have a list of telephone no’s so we can contact them? I think that would be a good step forward if we all knew where to contact them and what areas they would normally fish. This would help keep an organised patrol on the river in my opinion.
It was also mentioned if you come across a net do not move it before contacting the Loughs Agency Tel: +44 (0) 28 71 342100 giving them your name and contact details before waiting. If no one turns up then move the net to try and free any fish that are still alive. Any remaining dead fish should be taken to the Loughs Agency along with the net. Use your camera to take photos to keep your self safe from prosecution. I would suggest ringing a fishing buddy or if we had that list one of the warrant carriers.
Opening day, season moves back to 20th May.
This season the opening day has been moved back to the 20th May. The trial period of opening on the 1st April only proved the negative process of killing kelts and smolts out did the positive of catching a few springer salmon. With the Facebook photos last year showing anglers with dead kelts and the following angry discussion it was felt the move to the 20th May was warranted. It was also stressed that permits need to be lifted by the 1st April as failure to do so will result in loosing your permit and you going on a waiting list. So make sure you get in on time.The Faughan Anglers Office is open 11-3pm every Tuesday and Thursday in March.
So that ends my report of the Faughan Anglers AGM 2014 feel free to leave any comments below or contact me with any issues you have with this report. Tight Lines! 🙂