Mr Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Party Assemblyman and Chairman of the Stormont Committee for Employment and Learning, has challenged the Sinn Fein Farming Minister to ensure that salmon numbers are boosted by implementing a complete removal of nets.
Assemblyman Swann, who has campaigned strongly for anglers’ rights, and is UUP Chief Whip, issued his challenge to the minister following an exchange in the Stormont Chamber.
Mr Swann, a Past President of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, said to the minister: “Minister, you referred to salmon conservation. Were there any further discussions about the complete removal of nets, or the provision of any compensation for the removal of nets, to increase salmon numbers?”
Responding to Assemblyman Swann, the minister said: “Salmon conservation is a key area for the North South Ministerial Council and the Loughs Agency.
“Salmon conservation was discussed, but not the issue of compensation or anything like that. At the meeting, the Loughs Agency set out the work done on the ground by its dedicated protection and conservation staff.
“They are out there enforcing and ensuring compliance with the suite of regulations on the protection of salmon and sea trout.
“We are also gathering a lot of scientific evidence. As I said in the statement, we got some feedback on the different rivers that are relevant to the Loughs Agency.
“The discussion was really about conservation and all the things that we need to do. There was no discussion about nets, because that cannot happen in any of the Loughs Agency’s rivers at this time,” the minister told Assemblyman Swann.