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04/10/2002

Minister vows to restore salmon runs

Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister, Michael McGimpsey, today emphasised his determination to restore salmon runs in the River Bush.

The Minister visited the River Bush Salmon Station where he viewed work being carried out to tackle the decline in the numbers of stock – a problem not confined to Northern Ireland.

Mr McGimpsey said: “Concerns have been expressed that the operation of facilities at the station is harmful to salmon and is the cause of declining runs of fish to the river.

“There is no evidence to support this. Indeed, it is because of the counting facilities here that we have been able to identify the real causes of the problem.

“It has been established that the degradation of the river has led to reduced survival rates of juvenile salmon in freshwater and a significant decline in marine survival has resulted in fewer fish returning to the River Bush to spawn.”

The Minister pointed out that his department had introduced a range of measures and programmes to address this decline such as the buy-out of coastal nets and by restricting commercial and angling exploitation.

He said that these particular measures were being implemented throughout the area administered by the Fisheries Conservancy Board and that they would have a positive effect on the River Bush.

Other steps taken included the employment of a river warden to detect and report pollution, the refurbishment of the habitat and a restocking programme.

Afterwards, Mr McGimpsey travelled to Stranocum to watch the restocking programme in action.

He added: “This year alone, the hatchery at Bushmills has provided more than half a million juvenile salmon specifically for restocking the Bush.

“This is evidence of our determination to do all we can to restore salmon runs to the river and I am confident that the work being done will go a long way towards achieving that objective.”

(SP)

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