Lough Sheelin anglers invited to be part of a new Citizen Science project
Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), the state agency responsible for the conservation and protection of freshwater fish, habitats and sea angling resources, is launching a new survey that will tap into the knowledge of trout anglers in Lough Sheelin. The survey will use a method developed by IFI called FLEKSI, which will help to track ecological changes through local knowledge.
The new survey method named FLEKSI, which stands for Fisher’s Local Ecological Knowledge Surveillance Indicators, will feature questions for anglers about their trout catch and about different aspects of the fishery now compared with when they started fishing on the lake. Anglers spend many hours outside observing nature and the fish they catch. IFI recognizes that this accumulated local ecological knowledge is valuable and has potential for citizen science that can provide important insights for fisheries management into the future.
Wild brown trout are well-known to feed opportunistically on seasonal gluts of prey, especially swarms of insects, such as mayflies, midges, sedge-flies, etc. To select artificial flies and lures that “match the hatch”—mimicking prey that trout are feeding on—trout anglers closely observe the lake environment and its wildlife throughout the angling season.
Dr Samuel Shephard, a Senior Research Officer with Inland Fisheries Ireland and one of the developers of the FLEKSI method said: ‘We know how important anglers are as stewards of our fisheries resource and how attuned they are to changes in the lake environment from year to year. Anglers develop in-depth knowledge about their local lake fisheries over their angling career which can provide an important resource for fisheries science. With this new survey we want to use this unique insight to help track changes in Lough Sheelin’s trout stocks and ecosystems.’
Lough Sheelin located in Co. Cavan is one of Ireland’s most important wild brown trout fisheries, with a history of dramatic environmental changes over the last 40 years. The FLEKSI survey will give trout anglers on Lough Sheelin an exciting opportunity to share their knowledge as citizen scientists and to make a valuable contribution towards fisheries management on the lake.