THE Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs is to undertake a survey of ‘derelict waters’ to provide ‘robust and accurate information on the current known fishing rights’ of both rivers and lakes.
Northern Ireland’s complex history has thrown up many places where land ownership and fishing rights are obscure, unknown or disputed. This was further complicated by partition and the problems were only partially solved by the creation of the Loughs Agency in 1953 to deal with the border areas of the Foyle and Carlingford catchments.
The new initiative will produce a report for Sport NI and the NI Angling Forum, create a priority list for development by communities, clubs and councils where the information is clear that the waters are derelict and where public access can be easily established.
A DAERA spokesman said,
“The provision for the development of ‘derelict waters’ is outlined in the Fisheries Act (Northern Ireland) 1966. The section relating to derelict waters applies where the Department is of the opinion that any inland waters should be developed for angling and the person who is entitled to the fishing rights in those waters is unknown or cannot be found.”
Satellite information on all of the lakes and rivers in Northern Ireland is available and it is likely that many of these may be deemed derelict with no fishing rights identified. Holding the fishing rights does not automatically confer access rights to the lake or river and so the focus of this study is into fishing rights rather than access rights which must be negotiated with relevant landowners.
An Active Clubs development officer for angling was appointed in 2015 through Sports Lottery Funding and works to increase club membership and develop new clubs. The focus is on the provision of new opportunities for targeted and under-represented groups in sport. It is hoped the new initiative could smooth the way for more public fisheries.
In a seperate initiative a new small grant award scheme has been made available to assist those who are bringing new participants to angling. This scheme, with individual awards of up to £500, is to assist any event provider that attracts new anglers. All applications must be sent to:
DAERA Inland Fisheries
Community Outreach Team
1-7 Bedford Street