Salmon: Increasing Numbers

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 8th September 2020.

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Photo of Pat Catney Pat Catney Social Democratic and Labour Party 2:30 pm, 8th September 2020

T4. Mr Catney asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs whether he has any evidence that the number of salmon coming into our rivers has increased, which is something that he became aware of during his travels and his time spent at home when we could not go out, when he spoke to a lot of fishermen, who are known for spinning big yarns, who told him that the numbers are like they were 40 years ago, which they are putting down to the lack commercial fishing out in the Atlantic. (AQT 324/17-22)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

The Department has been seeking to stop net fishing for many years, and most of that is now done away with. The people who put the nets at the mouths of our rivers no longer do that, and that is positive because it allows more salmon to get back into our rivers. It is a hugely complex issue. Changes in water temperatures, climate change and all of that have been blamed for a lot of the issues around the lack of salmon. Our waterways in general are a lot cleaner than they were 20 years ago, and we need to continue to work on that to ensure that we have clean water systems, the appropriate spawning grounds and no netting and that we do the appropriate things to ensure that we reduce carbon emissions across Northern Ireland.

Photo of Pat Catney Pat Catney Social Democratic and Labour Party

Minister, this is slightly off the point that I made, but I heard about the 2,000 pigs that were killed on a farm. I want to thank, as I am sure you do, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and the animal welfare rescue teams for dealing with what they came across.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Absolutely. It is horrific, first of all, for the animals, and it will be horrific for the owner of the property. Representatives from that area have been in touch with me, and, as I indicated, our veterinary service will work appropriately to provide the support that it can for that place.