Dáil Éireann - Volume 537 - 12 June, 2001

Written Answers. - Fisheries Protection.

151. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to the serious loss of young salmon stocks caused by cormorants; the plans he has to protect such stock; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16854/01]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Mr. Fahey): I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 128 on 1 May 2001 in which I confirmed that I am aware that reports are received from time to time regarding excessive predation on fish stocks by cormorants. However, the extent of the damage to these stocks has not been quantified with precision. In the case of salmon stocks it is thought that cormorants may prey significantly on migrating salmon smolts. In this regard, I have asked the national salmon commission for analysis and advice in relation to predation in general on the salmon species.

Cormorants are a protected species under the Wildlife Act, 1976 which provides that they may not be hunted save under licence issued by the Minister for Arts, Heritage Gaeltacht and the Islands. Such a licence may be issued where the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands is satisfied that damage is being done to a fishery by cormorants. I am informed by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands that 11 such licences were issued during 2000.