PIKE fans are up in arms about the approval of a byelaw which allows up to four big pike a day to be removed by anglers from their famous western Ireland loughs.

A campaign has been launched by the Irish Pike Society and the All Ireland Angling Alliance to raise funds to mount a legal challenge in the High Court.

And they are asking for all anglers to give support financially and by attending future demonstrations.

Irish Pike Society chairman Ian Forde said: “We condemn in the strongest terms the  enactment of a law that now allows the killing of four specimen pike per day, per angler, in our premier limestone loughs.

“This bill was signed into law on the 25th October, 2018 by Richard Bruton, the recently appointed minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

“Recreational angling supports over 11,000 jobs nationally and contributes almost €1 billion to the Irish economy.

“The actions Richard Bruton and others will result in job losses and loss of community services due to the resulting negative impacts on our economy.

“Since 1996, the importance of specimen pike has been recognised and further still nationally in 2006 with the introduction of the  current national pike law protecting all pike over 50 cm.

“However, with one stroke of a pen, a government minister has undone decades of conservation effort and progress by everyone from anglers to Inland Fisheries Ireland.

“Due to the spread of invasive roach throughout our systems, the beneficial role of pike has been illuminated in the most recent scientific research, carried out by IFI in 2017-2018.

“There has been a stakeholders review process ongoing for the last two years, and after huge commitment, time and energy from all involved, the conclusions are now imminent.

“Despite this, Minister Bruton has seen fit to sign this disgraceful document, and to allow the slaughter to commence.

“Ignoring the latest scientific data, without consulting the statutory agency, IFI, charged with managing our fisheries, and in complete and utter contempt of the angling associations, scientific witnesses and experts, and indeed of IFI themselves who engaged and contributed to the review process.”

A dead Irish pike, strung up in a tree.

A dead Irish pike, strung up in a tree.

Irish Pike Society chairman Ian Forde continued: “IFI’s latest campaign is “CPR”. Catch, photo, release. What a sick joke that looks now.

“We had made a decision to self-fund up to this point, but since early May we have had full time solicitors and barristers working on your behalf.

“Our current legal and experts bill is in excess of €15,000. It will cost another €10,000 to get to trial. If we are unsuccessful, and have costs awarded against us, we’re looking at perhaps another €50,000,” the statement included.

Top English piker Neville Fickling, a regular Irish visitor, said: “This legislation is an act of sheer vindictiveness by brown trout anglers intent on destroying the Irish pike in a misguided belief that this will improve trout fishing.

“It gives them carte blanche to destroy as many pike as possible. No doubt many would destroy any pike they catch anyway, but now they could actually organise a pike competition and kill all they capture.

“Like many battles this one is needless and wastes resources that would be better spent on improving fishing all round but it has to be fought and won if decent Irish pike fishing is to be preserved.

“I, and other British pike anglers, have already donated £100 each to the cause and I would urge others to following suit,” added the author and tackle dealer, who appears in a regular Angler’s Mail column.

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