Inland Fisheries Ireland, the state agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats, has confirmed the presence of pike in Aughrusbeg Lough, Co. Galway. The confirmation was made during a fish stock survey by Inland Fisheries Ireland research staff earlier this week and is the first official record of pike being present in the lake.
Inland Fisheries Ireland is investigating if the pike was ‘introduced’ to the lake through human activity, by the illegal movement of fish between watercourses.
The introduction of pike to small low-complexity lakes, such as Aughrusbeg Lough, could be devastating to resident fish populations. New introductions are also potentially a carrier of fish disease and parasites, the state agency has said.
Francis O’Donnell, Chief Executive Officer of Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “Ireland’s inland waterbodies are ecologically important ecosystems, which support significant recreational fisheries for native and established fish species. ‘Introductions’ of new species threaten these ecosystems that they support, potentially in unforeseen ways, and are a major cause for concern for Inland Fisheries Ireland.”
He added: “Unfortunately, a similar introduction of pike into the upper sections of the Owenriff catchment in County Galway over ten years ago caused the virtual collapse of what had been a very important salmonid fishery in the West of Ireland.”
To help assess the scale of the problem, Inland Fisheries Ireland researchers are currently analysing samples from the latest fish stock survey to establish the age and distribution of the pike population discovered in the lake.
In the mean-time, Inland Fisheries Ireland is appealing to all anglers to protect Ireland’s fisheries by not moving fish between watercourses, for any reason. To report suspicions around the illegal movement of fish between watercourses, anglers and members of the public are encouraged to call Inland Fisheries Ireland’s confidential hotline number on 1890 34 74 24, which is open 24 hours a day.