Mr. Scrope Doig, Oughterard, writing at the request of Lord Ardilaun, says :-
" Most people now recognise the fact that the preservation of salmon and trout is a national asset, and of the very greatest importance to the district. The desire to poach is naturally still rampant; but it is kept within narrow limits by Boards of Conservators and private agencies. As the fishing is free in the greater part of this district, the private agencies are on the increase, the value of the fishing being fully realised."
The Ballynartnch is going down. Mackerel nets kill the fish at the stage midway between smolts and grilse. Unlimited drift nets are set all round the Irish coast for the sole purpose of taking salmon. " This," Mr. Arnold Matthews, Ballynahinch Castle, says, "is a subject calling for immediate legislation."
General Beresford, Wolsey Ho, East Molesey, who sends a statement similar in effect, adds: " There is no netting for salmon at, or anywhere near, the mouth of the river. At spawning time the fish are carefully protected. There has never been disease."
Lough Furnace, a moiety of Lough Feeagh, sometimes called Treenlaw; the Bunowen River Fishery, sometimes called the Louisburgh Fishery; Doo Lough, Fin Lough, the Bundorragha River; the Erriff River and Tawnyard Lough, sometimes called the Aasleagh Fishery, are properties, in County Mayo, of Lord Sligo, at whose wish his son, Lord Altamont, obligingly writes, as follows :-
" In Lough Furnace and Lough Feeagh there is a falling-off in the stock and in the sport. That is owing to constant poaching with nets in Lough Furnace, which is tidal. The fishings are let, and, consequently, the owner cannot have the mouth of the outlet of the upper lake properly watched.
"The town of Louisburgh is about a mile from the mouth of the Bunowen, which has a rapid fall. The river is systematically poached in every pool of the lower reaches by the whole town and countryside. Naturally one of the best rivers in the west, it is in such a state that many years will pass ere it recovers. In the neighbourhood of the town the fish are speared and caught in landing nets by the light of torches, and even in broad day. The Police, until Mr. Walter Long became Chief Secretary, gave little or no assistance. The organisation of the townspeople is such that it is difficult for the Police to do much. As soon as one of the Force leaves the barrack a whistle is sounded, and when the constable arrives at the river there are neither lights nor people. Efforts are being made to procure keepers; but the expenses are heavy, and there may be but little return for years.
"Doo Lough, Fin Lough, and the Bundorragha River have been looked after for many years, and the fishery is in good order. The salmon have not increased; but the white trout are very plentiful. Fifty salmon and 1000 white trout are caught in a good year by the rod. Nets are not allowed. This fishing is let to a small club.
" Nets on the Erriff were taken off in 1902. Since then the river has been let to a small club. Keepers and watchers have been engaged. Poaching at spawning time has been stopped, and the fishery is rapidly improving. A hundred salmon and from 600 to 780 sea-trout should be caught. The average weight of the salmon is between 9 lbs. and 10 lbs.; that of the sea-trout, 3 lbs. A hatchery is to be established on the river. The Board of Agriculture are assisting. The purpose is to benefit the fishing villages that border the Killary Harbour for many miles.'"
The Screeb and the Furnace, in County Galway, are severely beset by professional fishermen. Mr. Howard Bligh St. George, Clonsilla Lodge, writes:-
" Salmon and sea-trout are alarmingly decreasing off the Galway and Connemara coast. It is quite clear that the cause is netting in the open sea and the estuaries. Under the sanction and by the assistance of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland, residents along the coast are encouraged to acquire nets upon very easy terms, and where there was one net five years ago there are twenty nets now. Those chiefly used are trammel nets and drift nets, and they are at work by day and night along the seaboard and within the estuaries. The area within which it is legal to use trammel nets in certain parts of certain estuaries along the Connemara coast was last year restricted by byelaws; but the boundaries are insufficient, and net-fishing is legalised within limits that cannot fail to be destructive to the inland fisheries. Moreover, there is no provision for the enforcement of these byelaws by the Board of Agriculture, who nurture this net-fishing. That the Board intend to develop net-fishing along the western coast of Ireland is made clear by the report for 1904, in which, after relating the gratifying increase of nets off the Donegal coast, and various captures of salmon, -including 600 salmon to one boat during a season of five weeks,-it is said :-' A further large extension of this industry may be expected, it being the intention of the fishermen to exploit the waters to the south of the areas hitherto fished in this way.' Thus, we may expect an unwelcome descent upon the Connemara and Galway coast. I may add that the Board of Agriculture have charge and control of both the inland and the sea fisheries of Ireland, and are supposed to be anxious to serve the interests of each. It is certain that our salmon and sea-trout have become fewer. The sea-trout are smaller. Captures in the outer sea, so attractive to the larger fish, are undoubtedly the cause of the decline. Sea-trout in large numbers are caught in spring by mackerel boats along the Galway and Connemara coast. The boats fish close to and along the coast line, and in certain places within the estuaries.'
The Maigue, a tributary of the Shannon, has been much injured. Sir David Vandaleur Roche, who is seventy-two years of age, and has fished in the stream since boyhood, writes :-