Vital Co Fermanagh fish hatchery facing axe
A vital fish hatchery in Co Fermanagh says it is facing closure after funding of more than £40,000 a year was withdrawn by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL).
The Erne Rivers Trust says the Erne Melvin Hatchery will be forced to shut within the next few months after DCAL halted a deal that saw it buy 30,000 trout a year from the hatchery to stock Lower Lough Erne.
The trust said trout stocks in the Erne were under huge pressure due to predation from pike and perch and the "hasty and ill-planned" decision is premature because it was taken ahead of a consultation of the Lough Erne management plan stocking policy by DCAL Inland Fisheries.
Chairman Albert Keys said that without stocking there might be no roach, tench or bream in Lough Erne or salmon in many of Northern Ireland's rivers.
Mr Keys said loss of fish stock in these rivers will hit angling tourism, which brings £60m into the economy.