The chairmen of the Western and North Western Regional Fisheries Boards have made a joint plea to Minister Eamon Ryan and Minister of State Sean Power to retain the two fisheries regions and their head offices in Galway and Ballina, when the fisheries boards are abolished and a new Inland Fisheries Authority is created later this year. Under Government proposals, the two regions are to be amalgamated.
Lal Faherty, chairman of the Western Fisheries Board, and John Walkin, chairman of the North Western FIsheries Board, said they were deeply concerned about the proposal as they felt that a single region for the entire west would be far too big and would make effective protection and development of the west’s highly valuable salmon and trout fisheries extremely difficult. They said that the new region would extend over a vast area from north Leitrim to Clare and would include most of the country’s top salmon and wild brown trout fisheries.
The proposed change also went against stated Government policy of encouraging regional development and decentralisation. The amalgamated region would have a massive land area of 6,000 square miles and a sea area of 5,500 square miles with a coastline of approximately 1,500 miles. As well as the renowned Moy and Corrib systems, the region would include the Ballysadare, Easkey Moy, Owenmore, Owenduff, Erriff, Delphi, Ballynahinch, and several smaller salmon and sea trout fisheries as well the great western lakes of Arrow, Conn, Cullin, Cara, Mask, and Corrib and dozens of other less well known rivers and lakes. The chairmen said the fisheries resources of the two regions were so numerous and the area so vast that it would be extremely difficult for one regional manager to manage them effectively.
The two chairmen said they could see no benefit resulting from the proposed amalgamation from a financial, organisational, or fisheries perspective. If existing services were to remain in place, the same number of staff would be required as at present. If a single regional head office were to be established, either in Ballina or Galway, this would involve more travel, time, and expense for staff attending meetings, etc. Mr Faherty and Mr Walkin said that, while change was inevitable, they firmly believed that the proposed amalgamation would be highly detrimental to one of the west’s main natural resources. Both stressed the huge economic importance of fisheries in their regions with salmon, trout and sea angling being major tourism attractions in both areas. They called on all public representatives in the west to support the retention of the two regions and the two existing regional head offices in Ballina and Galway.