Dáil Éireann - Volume 603 - 14 June, 2005

Written Answers. - ESB Conservation Measures.

  351. Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if the ESB conservation division is involved directly or indirectly in the commercial extraction of eels from its weirs on the Shannon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19562/05]

[1701]   352. Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if the ESB conservation division is involved directly or through third parties in the commercial extraction of eels from its weirs on the Shannon; the financial arrangements of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19563/05]

  353. Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the mechanisms in place in order that glass eels entering the estuary will safely reach the upper reaches of the Shannon system; if he proposes to introduce a restocking programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19564/05]

  354. Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources his Department’s plans to carry out an investigation into the activities of a company (details supplied); if so, if he intends to publish the findings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19565/05]

  Mr. Gallagher:I propose to take Questions Nos. 351 to 354, inclusive, together.

I am advised that the ESB commissions a brown eel monitoring programme on the Shannon under the scientific direction of NUI Galway. The purpose of that programme is to ensure that eel stocks are monitored and conserved in accordance with best practice. The ESB has no commercial interest in the disposal of any eels caught as part of the brown eel programme.

A contractor is employed to remove the eels at Killaloe, where the ESB operates eel weirs, to protect them from potential damage from the turbines at Ardnacrusha. A large proportion of the eels removed are reintroduced to the river beyond the turbines to ensure adequate escapement for spawning.

The extraction of eels at Killaloe is carried out by contract under normal ESB tendering arrangements. Juvenile eels reaching the dam at Ardnacrusha are called elvers. It is the responsibility of the ESB to ensure that juvenile eels can access the Shannon catchment above the hydroelectric power station at Ardnacrusha.

The ESB has undertaken several programmes to facilitate the capture and distribution of glass, or juvenile, eels. In recent years, licences have been issued only to the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board in partnership with the ESB to capture juvenile eels. The ESB, in partnership with the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board, has sought in recent years to trap glass eels and elvers, by a variety of experimental means, in the Shannon Estuary and transport them upstream to assist in the restocking of the upper Shannon. The ESB also has a trap at the hydroelectric power station at Ardnacrusha at which it traps elvers.

Glass eels and elvers returning to the Shannon have been in decline in recent years, as is the case [1702] throughout Europe, and therefore numbers of juvenile eels caught are down. The Shannon Regional Fisheries Board and the ESB will review their juvenile eels programme in advance of the 2005-06 season.

I am not aware of any reason the Department should investigate the activities of the company referred to by the Deputy, which ceased trading in 1996.