Great Western Lakes public consultation gets underway in Ireland

Lough Cuillin is one of the seven Great Western Lakes involved in the consultation.

Inland Fisheries Ireland’s (IFI) public consultation on the long-term management of Lough Corrib, Lough Mask, Lough Carra, Lough Conn, Lough Cullin, Lough Arrow, and Lough Sheelin gets underway from today (August 9) and is urging the angling community and anyone who uses the lakes, or lives near them, to make a submission to its plan, which it has developed for the long-term management of seven lakes.

The lakes have long-been designated, as a matter of policy, to be managed primarily as wild brown trout waters, and the plan aims to address some of the many factors that impact on the ecological wellbeing and status of native fish stocks, through protecting, conserving and, where possible, enhancing the lakes’ natural attributes and native biodiversity. In turn, this would optimise the lakes’ potential as sustainable wild brown trout fisheries and, in some cases, Atlantic salmon fisheries. Other species such as eels, Arctic char and ferox trout are also reflected in the draft plan.

The plan

The plan hinges around the European Union Water Framework Directive (WFD), signed in law in October 2000, which requires EU member States to achieve water quality of at least ‘good status’ in rivers, lakes, groundwater, estuaries and coastal waters. The WFD mandates public consultation and recognises the value of community involvement in decision-making. It is also results based and time-bound and, in conjunction with enforcement of relevant environmental legislation, and is seen as the most effective mechanism by which to achieve good water quality in the Western Lakes.

IFI’s plan covers:

• Engaging local communities and relevant authorities in the protection, development and conservation of their river catchments through the establishment of more Catchment Management Associations for the Western Lakes.

• Climate action and biodiversity, including promoting the establishment of significant aquatic buffer zones to enhance biodiversity and ameliorate nutrient /sediment run-off, and planting native woodland to mitigate the impacts of elevated water temperatures and increased flood frequency and severity.

• Water quality, by enhancing the capacity of IFI to detect and enforce water quality offences.

• Invasive species – including the removal and/or management of harmful invasive species through strategic stock management and weed management programmes.

• Stock management, through producing stock management plans annually, to reduce impacts on salmonids from other fish populations, using angler’s citizen science as a research tool, and identifying “survival bottlenecks” for Atlantic salmon and trout.

• Habitat restoration through targeted projects, aided by streamlining the administrative processes to bring development projects through planning processes to fruition with maximum efficiency

• Research to provide the necessary data for fish population models for the Western Lakes to refine existing fish stock monitoring programmes (eg. WFD).


The consultation process will last six weeks. Suzanne Campion, Head of Business Development with Inland Fisheries Ireland urged the public to participate by reading the draft plan and making a submission. She said: “It’s clear to see that all seven lakes share a series of pressures which are impacting on their ecosystem stability and native fish stocks. These include declining water quality, fisheries habitat loss, invasive species and the detrimental effects of climate change. These issues will be tackled through the various measures proposed in this draft plan. That is why the public consultation process is such an incredibly important step, as it gives the public the perfect opportunity to have their say.”

The draft plan is available from the Inland Fisheries Ireland website at or by visiting Inland Fisheries Ireland’s offices in Galway, Ballina or Limerick.

The deadline for making a submission is 5pm on Tuesday, September 20, and those wishing to make a submission are being encouraged to use the online questionnaire which will guide them through the headings of the plan. Any submissions received after the deadline will not be considered.

IFI is appealing to any interested parties, whether professionally invested or publicly engaged, such as angling federations, clubs and associations, local communities, academic institutions, to bring stakeholder groups, Environmental NGOs and government agencies, so they can work together to achieve agreed objectives.

Also, during the consultation period, a series of open evenings will take place where members of the public can discuss, seek clarification, and ask questions on the draft plan with IFI representatives.

Campion added: “We are urging anyone with an interest in the Great Western Lakes, especially anglers, other users of the lakes or those that live nearby, to read the draft plan and have their say by making a written submission online before the September 20 deadline.”