Inaction on pollution: a rod to beat anglers with…

ANGLING seems to be one of Northern Ireland’s quiet success stories, with the Leisure Minister telling us the other day that it is worth more than £22m to the local economy (and the Deputy First Minister being a keen participant). Despite this, the authorities seem to have little interest in taking on the polluters responsible for the countless fishkills here, like this one reported yesterday. Perhaps it’s embarrassment stopping them, as the upprosecutable Water Service was NI’s worst polluter, up until it recently became NI Water. Never could get into fishing myself, but it does seem very popular locally and attracts thousands of tourists each year, and the neverending tales of pointless destruction of the river environment must be frustrating to those anglers who enjoy the sport and go to tremendous effort to protect these delicate and beautiful ecosystems.

  • Dave

    “Never could get into fishing myself…”

    That’s because you’re bored with your own company. I’ve enjoyed fly fishing all over Ireland, and will nestle for a few days by the River Mourne/ Strule in August. You can go fly fishing in the River Jordan – providing it’s the one in Michigan, USA, – as it’s illegal to go fly fishing in the one in Israel (not that you’d want to, particularly around Galilee, where it is an open sewer thanks mainly to Syria and Jordan). It would be a shame if Northern Ireland damaged its tourist potential by failing to tackle the polluters.

  • Rory

    Every man should have a hobby and I suppose fly fishing is as good as the next. One thing always puzzled me though, Dave, what do you do with all those flies after you’ve caught them? I can’t imagine that they they make very good eating and any accompanying chips would need to be very small indeed.

  • Dave

    Well, Rory, I don’t actually fish for flies because flies can’t swim. I suppose a sport of sorts could be contrived by knocking flies from the air by means of casting the line at them with a lead punch or some such on the end of it, but that would be a bit too frenzied for my tempo and would require vision amazing co-ordination, eyesight, and reflexes, and wouldn’t really be fly fishing since you’d be casting a weight on the end of a line rather than working a weightless line. You have to trick the fish by making flies that imitate what is in the local environment. For example, when I fish in rivers in strongly unionist areas like the River Bann, I use a fly that is shaped like little orange sash and those protestant fish just jump right into them. Likewise, in rivers in strongly Republican areas, I use a fly that is shaped like a little balaclava and those catholic fish just pop their little heads straight into them. It’s inbred into the fish and all comes down to knowing your fish, you see.

  • interested

    “the upprosecutable Water Service”

    Except it is prosecutable. Crown Immunity was removed some time ago.

  • George

    “Except it is prosecutable. Crown Immunity was removed some time ago.”

    It was removed in April 2007 and in the first year they have been successfully prosecuted all of once and paid a whopping great fine of £100.

    Northern Ireland’s greatest water polluter is running scared of prosecution alright.

    Any chance of Northern Ireland ever getting an Environmental Protection Agency?

  • Rory

    Thank you, Dave. That was most informative. Clearly there are no flies on you. Happy fishing.

  • DK

    I suppose motorsports are the other unsung sport big in NI. I wonder if there is a way to combine the two. First to complete 20 laps and then catch a trout.

  • Mr Angry

    [i]It would be a shame if Northern Ireland damaged its tourist potential by failing to [b]tackle[/b] the polluters.[/i]

    Good one!

  • Paul McMahon

    I wonder how J R Hartley feels about it?

  • Belfast Gonzo


    Read the end of my sentence – “up until it recently became NI Water”.