According to the Standing Scientific Committee of the National Salmon Commission, the Conservation Limit for salmon in the River Shannon upstream of the Shannon Dams is 49,624 salmon (note exact figure!). Although the ESB do not publish the annual escapement figures, the average escapement figure during the period 2005-2009 was 707 adult salmon (Source: SSC). The River Shannon is therefore significantly below its conservation limit, and the current numbers of salmon passing upstream may well be lower than the average annual escapement figure available.
As we approach the 100 year anniversary of the Shannon Scheme, it is clear that there is a need for some new independent thinking here; obvious suggestions may include starting at the bottom of the catchment and working upstream? It is also clear that suitable consideration needs to be given to habitat connectivity, and other migratory species such as lampreys and eels.
The ORSRG will be addressing the issues above and providing a long needed commentary on the current programmes being run in the River Shannon catchment.