Why are salmon numbers in the Shannon so low?

This is Athlone weir on the middle reaches of the River Shannon, during early December 2014. If you ever wanted an example of the scale of ESB’s fisheries management failures you should consider that only a nominal number of salmon pass though here each year on their way to spawn in the upper Shannon. The number of salmon is almost certainly less than 300, and probably less than 100. There should be tens of thousands of salmon migrating past here each year.

You have to ask yourself, could the ESB possibly be doing any worse than they are at the moment in meeting their statutory obligations to maintain the Shannon fishery?

The conservation escapement target at Ardnacusha dam on the Lower Shannon is 49,000 salmon per annum (SSC, 20014). However, last year less than 1,000 salmon found their way upstream though the inadequate “fish lift” at this installation. The stretch of the River Shannon at Athlone should be a salmon fishery in its own right. However, salmon are now only rarely caught in the River Shannon upstream of the ESB’s hydroelectric scheme.

Athlone-weir

Athlone weir, December 2014. Less than 100 salmon are expected to pass here this year on their way to the upper Shannon – a blunt example of the failure of the ESB to meet their statutory obligations to maintain the Shannon fishery.

Athlone-weir-2

Athlone weir, December 2014. There are now probably 10 times more salmon passing though through Paris on the the industrialised River Seine than though Athlone on the River Shannon.

Compare this to Paris on the industrialised River Seine. Despite being 175 km kilometres inland on one of the most modified and polluted rivers in Europe, and also upstream of a hydro scheme, it is estimated that over 1,000 salmon now pass upstream though Paris every year. This is a startling example of the failure of fisheries management programmes on the River Shannon, and highlights the need for real change. You have to ask yourself, could the ESB possibly be doing any worse than they are at the moment in meeting their statutory obligations to maintain the Shannon fishery? If we had no ESB Fisheries department whatsoever could there possibly be any less salmon migrating to the upper River Shannon?

We have produced a number of posts outlining the reasons why salmon numbers in the Shannon above the hydroelectric scheme are so low, while also outlining some possible solutions. So, why are there no salmon in the upper River Shannon?

Other posts related to this theme can also be found at the links below:-

It is a national disgrace that salmon escapement through the Shannon dams has fallen so low; particularly when measured by the successes achieved on other European rivers with many more problems than the River Shannon (eg. Seine, Rhine, Thames). There should and can be salmon in the upper Shannon, and it is now time to realise that the ESB are doing nothing to help migratory fish on this river. Because if they were there would have been at least some salmon jumping Athlone weir this winter. It is time to undertake a major review of ESB’s activities in relation to managing the fisheries of River Shannon. The River Shannon belongs to all of us, and this river should be managed for the benefit of everyone.

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