2019 is the International Year of the Salmon. Atlantic salmon return every year from the sea to spawn in our rivers and streams. Sadly, the numbers of salmon have been declining rapidly in recent years. Reasons for the decline are mainly commercial fishing at sea, climate change affecting the oceans, impact of salmon farms at sea, and poor water quality in our rivers and streams where the young salmon live before they go down to the sea to grow to adults.
Because numbers are now so low, a ban on the killing of wild salmon has been introduced as a conservation measure in Limerick rivers and many other rivers in Ireland. In the region of only 1200 salmon now return to the River Maigue and its tributaries (Camoge, Loobagh and Morningstgar rivers ) each year, whereas at least ten times that number returned in the mid-1970s.
The Drumcamoge River, a small headwater stream of the River Camoge, flows near the communities of Knocklong and Knockainey. Small headwater streams like this may not look very impressive, but they are really important as spawning areas for adult salmon and trout, and as nursery areas for young fish. However, young salmon in particular will not thrive in these streams unless the water quality is good, and this has not been case in the Drumcamoge and other headwaters in the Maigue catchment in recent years.
Earlier this year, the Maigue Rivers Trust secured funding from the Community Water Development Fund run by the Local Authority Waters Programme, for a project to look at ways to improve water quality in the Drumcamoge. This would help not just salmon and trout, but would also enhance the habitat and biodiversity value of the river. Getting the views, ideas and experiences of the local communities are a central part of the project. The Maigue Rivers Trust therefore invites you to an information-sharing evening in Knocklong Community Hall on October the first at 8pm. The Trust will present a summary of the project, and related work we have been doing in the broader Maigue catchment. Every one is welcome!