BRITISH pike anglers - including Matt Hayes (pictured) - are helping lead the fight against the slaughter of Irish coarse fish by its own fisheries board!

An online petition has been set up and quickly secured over 20,000 supporters, with more names being added every day, and including some top anglers from the UK.

Anglers are calling for Inland Fisheries Ireland to cease the practice of culling pike and other coarse species under the guise of preserving trout stocks in Irish waters, and especially the loughs in the west of the country.

It also cites the fact that the gill nets used to carry out this netting and culling are indiscriminate meaning that fish of all species and sizes are being killed – including the trout that they are supposedly seeking to protect!

This has caused a storm on social media, and especially Facebook, where photos have appeared of dead specimen sized pike laid out on the bank following such a cull.

As well as the petition, a peaceful protest took place in Dublin outside the IFI’s offices, to make angling voices heard, and to hopefully make the IFI re-think it’s fishery management policies.

Huge threats to pike stocks

Unfortunately this is nothing new in Ireland, but poses a huge threat to pike stocks which have already come under pressure from illegal netting and poaching, as well as the licenced removals.

A few years back a similar campaign caused a storm in Northern Ireland when pikers threatened to sabotage nets and equipment being used on Lough Erne to supposedly protect trout from pike predation, and the fish that were netted were exported to mainland Europe for food.

This is the sort of practice which is now putting a lot of anglers off of going to Ireland for a fishing holiday, and as a result it is affecting tourism – in the past large numbers of anglers from the UK travelled there every year – as catches have declined and are a mere shadow of what they once were on many of the famous venues.

The petition was set up by the Irish Angling Alliance, a company backed by a team of legal experts that act on behalf of anglers, and they have also organised the protest.

Matt Hayes and big names

Some big names from the world of angling have already got behind the campaign, including Matt Hayes, who fishes there for both pike and trout, and said: “The fact is that nature will look after pike numbers and a water left untouched by man will find a balance – netting and removal is just going to cause problems.

“It’s time that Ireland’s fisheries chiefs, and the businesses that rely on tourism, realised that waters like Corrib and mask have the unique ingredients to be both world class trout waters and truly world class pike venues drawing anglers from around the globe.

“Strike the right balance, and great headlines, and vital revenues for hotels, ghillies, boat rentals and other service providers will follow all year round.

“Having been through all this before, I urge those that are protesting not to lose sight of the fact that considered debate is the route to change.”

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