Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Emails spark hint of rethink on barrels

Pike anglers are urging Irish fisheries officials to investigate alternatives to using barrels to retain pike in fishing competitions.

The call comes after an official from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) responded to a flood of e-mails about the Erne International Pike Fishing Festival.

Brendan Downey, from DCALs fisheries department, said: "While the Department assisted the organisers in running the competition we have no direct responsibility for the measures employed.

"As I stated we understand that all fish were returned alive at the last competition and so the methods employed appear to have worked.

"However we will investigate what alternative measures could be used and if these are acceptable we will suggest that the organisers use such methods in future competitions."

After months of trying to negotiate with organisers of the event, which is sponsored by Fermanagh District Council and Waterways Ireland, the PAC has said it will have no alternative but urge pike anglers to back calls for a boycott of the event if progress can not be made.

Reports from Ireland suggest numbers of fish have died after being retained in barrels in competitions staged in recent weeks.

PAC secretary Mark Barrett said: "We still remained puzzled as to why the organisers do not reconsider their position, particularly in light of recent tragedies at other events.

"It would be a crying shame if the Pike and the future of piking tourism in Fermanagh were to pay the price of ignorance and pride"