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Harsh reality of winter for fisheries staff

For most of us, the big freeze is a serious inconvenience but for DCALís fisheries officers sub-zero temperatures mean a state of high alert.
Monday, 20 December 2010

Hundreds of thousands of young fish are under threat when the mercury falls, sending dedicated DCAL staff into action in a battle against the elements.

Officers responsible for Movanagher fish farm and Bushmills salmon station ensure that the premises are secure and safe and that the fish continue to receive the care they need so that Northern Ireland’s public angling estate will have an abundant stock of fish available next year.

Speaking about the big freeze, Richard Turner, Movanagher fish farm said: “During the last few weeks we have had several problems at the farm. One of the water supplies from the borehole tripped out due to freezing air temperatures of -12ºC causing electrical relay switches to burn out. This is potentially a major problem for the eggs that we are currently incubating. Fortunately my staff were able to secure a second borehole supply otherwise the loss of water could have had a devastating effect on next years production as the spring water is currently being used to incubate the ova. Frozen water supplies have also been causing serious problems throughout the farm and I commend my staff for their diligence, hard work and commitment during this tough period.”

During the time in question, deliveries of fish scheduled for two of the public angling estate waters have had to be postponed due to poor road conditions and the fact that the waters in question had frozen over.

Commenting on the weather, Martin McAleese, River Bush Salmon Station said: “Ironically the thaw was just as difficult, as too much water brings its own problems. The snow and freezing temperatures killed an unexpected volume of riverbank plants which entered the river late one night. Staff working the next day, were greeted with a catastrophic sight. Tanks were overflowing and fish were flapping on the ground in shallow water. Tank outlet screens had gradually blocked with dead plants causing overflowing and fish to escape. Other tanks had the opposite problem when inlet pipes blocked and needed disconnected and cleared. Staff once again showed their dedication for the job and worked through the night to ensure that conditions returned to normal with only limited fish loss.”

So while most of us are wishing for a white Christmas, bear a thought for the fisheries officers who will be working over the festive period ensuring that our angling waters are ready and in good condition for the start of the fishing season next year.

Notes to editors:

  1. Further information on Movanagher Fish Farm and River Bush Salmon Station can be found on the DCAL website.
  2. Further information on the Angling and the Public Angling Estate can be found on the nidirect website.
  3. Media enquiries should be addressed to the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure Press Office Tel 028 9051 5047 or email: communications@dcalni.gov.uk .Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.