Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has said that funding to angling clubs should be reassessed in the new Rural Development Programme now that ‘Catch and Release’ schemes operate on rivers as these fish can no longer be classed as food.
Mr. McMullan said,
“The European directive to implement ‘Catch and Release’ scheme on rivers controlled by DCAL to protect Atlantic wild salmon stock states all fish caught must be returned to the river. This has clearly redefined them from being classed as food as they are immediately returned to the river and therefore not eaten.
“This change could allow angling clubs to apply for funding to restock and maintain rivers to the highest standards as previously they were prevented from funding as fish was classified as food.
“Fishing has a major role to play not only in providing recreation and sport to the local populace but also as a major tourist attraction. Angling can be promoted to increase the tourist potential of the North and therefore we should be looking at way at enabling funding to create a vibrant angling industry.
“It is important that we protect the local species of fish and by grant aiding clubs would enable this to happen.”