Belfast Telegraph

Curbs on anglers as IRA diesel trade decimates salmon stocks

By Jim Cusack

Salmon stocks in the last river open for angling on the Republic's east coast are on the brink of being wiped out by pollution from IRA diesel launderers.

This year anglers on the Fane River flowing from Co Monaghan to the Irish Sea below Dundalk will only be able to 'catch and release' due to the depletion of stocks.

Inland Fisheries Ireland is to impose the ban for 2016 because of what local anglers say has been a ten-fold decrease in the amount of salmon, brown trout and sea trout being caught in the river system over the past two decades.

The same river system supplies drinking water to some 45,000 households in the Dundalk and north Louth area and 8,000 in south Armagh.

Over the past 30 years thousands of tonnes of highly toxic waste from the IRA-run fuel laundering industry based in south Armagh has been dumped and poured directly into the river system.

The waste includes polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) that cause cancers and degenerative illnesses in humans as well as wildlife.

Anglers who have fished the Fane River, its two lakes - Lough Muckno and Lough Ross - as well as its tributaries, say the fish stocks have declined massively in recent years. Salmon stocks have declined all round the world mainly because of pollution and overfishing.

On the Fane the main source of pollution is the massive dumping of the acids, diesel and dye residues that are the by-product of the multi-million euro illicit trade.

Inland Fisheries Ireland estimated that in the 1970s around 3,000 salmon were caught commercially in what it terms "Dundalk waters". This declined dramatically though, and in the past decade only around 200 to 300 fish were being caught.

Local sources said the stocks had declined so much by last year that many anglers stopped fishing because they were so concerned at the decline. This year there will only legally be catch and release allowed on the river system. Anyone found keeping salmon could face heavy fines.

The link between depletion of fish, and particularly salmon stocks, due to pollution of their habitat by oil spills was detailed in a report by a number of environmental and fish agencies published in September last year in the online journal, Scientific Reports.

The research into the lasting impact of the Exxon Valdez oil spill at Prince William Sound in Alaska in March 1989 found that over 25 years - about the same length of time serious pollution of the Fane system has been taking place - there were serious effects on spawning grounds and on juvenile fish.

The study by the Alaska Fisheries Science Centre found a "much-reduced survival of pink salmon exposed as embryos to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from crude oil".

PAH is exactly the same toxic compound found in the waste produced by the IRA-controlled diesel laundering process which used various chemicals to remove the dye from green diesel for re-sale, at big profit, as white diesel used for cars and commercial vehicles.

Salmon, sea trout and other game fish have long been under threat but relatively little attention has been paid to the poisoning of spawning grounds on the upper reaches of rivers like the Fane.

Gardai say the south Armagh IRA has complete control over the illicit trade despite claims by Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein that there is no 'republican' involvement.

Local people say that the 'washing' of diesel has declined in the past year but still goes on.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph