DAERA provides fishing stand for disabled anglers
Following a productive meeting between members of the recently formed Quoile Angling Club (QAC) and representatives of DAERA Inland Fisheries, a new disabled fishing stand has been erected.
The stand, located at just below the old flood gates near the car park, can take two wheelchair disabled anglers safely. It has rails at the side and and a kicker bar too to add to safety.
QAC chairman Eamonn McGrath said: “We are absolutely delighted that DAERA have responded very quickly to our call to improve disabled angling facilities. We had a meeting on site with them and they took aboard the issues we had identified for disabled anglers.
“The stand is now accessible along a short path from the car park adjacent to the river at the old barrier. We had been chatting to a number of disabled anglers and access was a key issue for them. Hopefully this stand will be well used and another added in the near future.
“We are delighted that DAERA has moved on this quickly and now the stand will be there for the anglers to enjoy the summer months. On behalf of all the anglers I would like to thank DAERA for their quick response. This stand is certainly a benchmark for future stands on this popular fishery.
“Hopefully a couple of signs will be erected too to show that the stand is prioritised for disabled anglers use.
“Things are looking up for the River Quoile. We intend to work collaboratively with all stakeholders and soon there will be a multi-agency meeting held which will give us an opportunity to put a number of issues on the table which concern us.
“There has been a drop in water levels over the past month due to the lack of rain, and we are concerned at the dangers of pollution building up and even algal blooms which can kill off fish stocks as happens periodically on the Quoile.”
Scott McGreevy, QAC Disabled Representative, said: “I’ve already tried out the stand and it is just brilliant. I’m looking to getting down fishing there now over the next couple of weeks. The first fish I caught there was a nice perch. I was chuffed.
“I’d like to thank DAERA for moving so quickly in building the stand. They were on it like a flash. It’s fully accessible from the car park just a short distance away. It’s in a lovely location on the Quoile too… very scenic. The stand too is designed well and blends into the countryside around it.
“It really was beyond my expectations. It’s just first class for wheelchair users. Once the club members get trained up and certified maybe with the contacts I have in the disability sector I could get a few young wheelchair users down and we could introduce them to angling in this very safe environment.”
Eamonn McGrath also explained that the stock of coarse fish on the river Quoile has been impacted by the increase in the roach population affecting the native rudd with some hybridisation taking place. The perch population too appears to have reduced, but there have been reports of brown trout being caught along the lower reaches of the Quoile pondage area. The Quoile was a popular pike fishery but the pike population was decimated when a seal gained access through the lower tidal barrier a couple of years ago and destroyed the pike stock.
Eamonn added: “We are also very keen to improve the wider environment around the River Quoile and now that we are getting our feet on the ground, we will hopefully access funding to support nature in the area and improve facilities around the Quoile.
“Our aim too is to encourage young anglers to the Quoile and to that end we will be setting up certified training courses to help them become capable and safe anglers.
“We are looking forward to working with DAERA Inland Fisheries the various other agencies involved.
“And I’d like to mention a special thanks to the Downpatrick DEA forum which has helped us on our journey.”