Lough Fishermen’s Co-operative Society has issued a three month fishing ban on all scale fish in Lough Neagh, starting on March 1.
Acknowledging that there may be some backlash to the move, chairman Pat Close told the Mail the decision was taken after much deliberation by the management committee and board of directors.
Now any commercial fishermen working on Lough Neagh will need permission from the co-operative, whether they are fishing trout, coarse fish or eels.
Currently DCAL issues the licences for fishing equipment for scale fish, but Mr Close said the three month suspension will give the co-operative time to get the new system up and running by May 31.
“Not everybody’s going to happy, I understand that,” he told the Mail.
“But it needs to made clear that it is decision that was not taken lightly at all.
“We do realise that it will have an impact on peoples’ livelihood, but we’re in the position that we need to consider the bigger picture and the long term sustainability of the fishery... the permitting system is fundamental to that.
“It has to understood that it been designed for the closed season for a lot of those species, but not all of them
“We believe there’s a need to do it,” he added, “and that’s what we’re working on as part of our longer term strategy for managing scale fish in Lough Neagh - as well as eels.”
The list of scale fish that commercial fishermen will not be allowed to take includes pollan, trout, roach, perch, bream and pike.
Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-operative has operated a permit system in relation to eels for many years, but until now hasn’t taken any action in relation to scale fish, despite owning the rights for 24 years.
The move to bring scale fish in line with the company’s eel business, comes just two weeks after it applied to have Lough Neagh pollan listed as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) under the EU protected food name scheme.
The 12-week consultation period on the application started on February 8.