The fish pass at Ardnacrusha of the Lower River Shannon lets very few salmon upstream, but for those salmon that find their way through to the upper Shannon to spawn this is one-way journey.
All salmon kelts descending from the upper River Shannon die in front the of the intakes at Ardnacrusha, or at Parteen. They die because there is no fish pass to allow them downstream, and no way for them to pass through.
The smolts go through the turbines and many thousands are killed and injured each year. But every single kelt coming down dies a gruesome slow death.
There is also no way for these fish to pass downstream at Parteen Weir. Some salmon kelts enter the fish pass at this location – but die here also as they get stuck behind the broodstock trap.
Historically thousands of salmon kelts would die in front of the turbine intakes at Ardnacrusha each year because there is no way down. However, with the current low numbers of salmon passing upstream the resultant quantity of kelts dying in front of the scheme is also significantly lower. But there is no chance of any of them becoming repeat spawners.
ESB Networks have always known about this and have done nothing – ever. It happens at all of their hydroelectric stations which they claim operate to the “highest environmental standards”. In Ireland that just means that they have a few recycling bins!
During January 2020 the ESB were abstracting 96% of the flow in the river. The fish follow the water and this is where the problem is. We need more than new fish passes and bypass to solve the problems on the Lower River Shannon – we need sustainable water management. This year all the smolts should be passed downstream using spillways.
Thousands of critically endangered eels are also being killed at ESB hydroelectric schemes. This wildlife crime should be in the newspapers every day. There is no downstream fish pass at any of the ESB’s hydroelectric stations.