Newry Mourne and Down District Councillors restore damaged Quoile river infrastructure in a bid to support sustainable tourism and a valuable coarse fishery.
Local Councillors Patrick Brown (Alliance ) and Councillor Cadogan Enright (Independent) have announced the success of their recent initiative to restore damaged infrastructure on the Quoile River, and in ensuring the waterways remain sustainably stocked, which will in turn boost tourism in the Downpatrick area.
The Councillors worked closely with angling club Down District Coarse Anglers who had complained of depleted fish stocks in the Quoile pondage area due to seals managing to access waterways through a damaged large metal grate in the Quoile flood barrier at the lower reaches of the Nature Reserve. As a result of seals entering the pondage area, there was a considerable drop in fish levels in the river over a number of years which impacted greatly on the receartional anglers in the local club and attracting visiting enthusiasts.
Historically, the lower Quoile was one of Ireland’s best natural rudd rivers, and in the early 80’s, world champion Ian Heaps fished at the Killyleagh Road bridge and filled two keep nets of rudd testifying to the previous viability of the Quoile as a coarse fishery.
The Quoile too was a strong pike fishery with the excellent head of rudd and hybrids to feed on. DAERA inland fishery officers have regularly stocked the Quoile with pike from trout fisheries so in the past there was a considerable sport to be had until the seals entered the Quoile pondage.
Councillor Brown (Rowallane) said: “Due to our lobbying and ongoing commitment to this issue, DAERA (the department responsible for NI inland fisheries) have now installed a new metal grate. We’d like to thank DAERA for the swift action in replacing this grate. However, the focus now has to shift and be on restocking the river with a variety of fish so that the Quoile can once again become a popular spot for hobby fishermen.
Councillor Enright Downpatrick) said: “Going back 15 of 20 years the Quoile was a coarse fishery of national importance. However, neglect by NI Rivers Agency and pollution from NI Water brought it to a low ebb.
“Up to 20,000 fish died in one instance before the sewage works on the river near Inch Abbey were upgraded. Over the last ten years Inland Fisheries from DEARA have regularly restocked the river but the failure of NI Rivers Agency to repair the grills for the fish pass has just provided seals coming in from Strangford Lough with a handy lunch without the same effort needed to catch fish at sea.”
Trevor Love, Chairman of Down District Coarse Anglers commented: “On behalf of all Down District Coarse Anglers I would like to thank Councillors Brown and Enright for their much-needed support to ensure the tidal barrier was repaired.
“Additionally, I welcome the news that they’ve secured assurance from DEARA that the Quoile river will soon be restocked and that this will continue to happen on a regular basis. We look forward to a brighter future for all coarse anglers in this area and the return of the Quoile River as one of the greatest fishing venues in all of Ireland.”
The initiative goes beyond trespassing seals, however, as it also showcases the need for continued sustainable development in the local tourism industry.