The Pollagh, Glore and Gweestion, offer good brown trout fishing and are all tributaries of the River Moy, a mere 20 minutes drive away. Kiltimagh is a good central location for the plentiful salmon and trout lakes and rivers of Mayo. Kiltimagh is also in the heart of the main area, classified by the Fisheries Board, for coarse angling in Mayo. The local Angling Club has hosted a number of major events in recent years, including the All Ireland Pike Fishing Championship.

Turning the Tide

Towards protecting and enhancing our finest natural resource

If Mayo people were asked what our greatest natural resource was we’d probably say our Gaelic Football team, but in reality it’s the river that flows through our county.

It’s ever present and flows through or near many of our towns. Its banks are littered with the history and heritage of our people. But this river and its adjoining lakes are not in the healthiest of condition which, as we know, is due principally to ourselves. However, all this may be about to change. A new group, the Moy Catchment Association, has come together in an effort to start a conversation – a conversation about conservation – about protecting one of the great natural resources we have in our midst.

The government has played its part in this objective by establishing a new agency to bring local groups and government departments together. It has a long name, the Local Authorities Water Community Office, but its remit is clear, to improve water quality by getting local communities involved. Its new office for the area is located in Castlebar and the officer for the Moy Catchment Area is one Mike Kane who lives in Achill. Mike has being involved in other community projects like the Greenway and has already started where he left off – by facilitating. What is obvious to most observers is that the status quo will not resolve the problems that exist in this catchment area. The new grouping formed before Christmas and is made up of all the fishing clubs and private waters in the Moy Catchment area. They’ve already established a committee with aims and objectives and a mission statement (below).

Moy Catchment Association represents clubs, fishery owners and anglers in the Moy Catchment area who are committed to working in partnership with communities and stakeholders in the Moy Valley, with Government at national and local level, as well as others who have an interest in improving the ecology, fisheries and wildlife of the area. The pre-Christmas launch was for all anglers in the area. The Chairman for the group, Jim Wilson, reiterated the group’s purpose and objectives before introducing Declan O’Mahony, whose film ‘River Runner’ has being an inspiration for groups interested in returning rivers to their once pristine state. Declan had spent two years making a film about the River Lee and the detrimental affect the dams had on the  area. It’s widely acknowledged that our wild fish stocks are not what they once were. Much of the problem, we’re told, exists beyond our shores and migrating salmon that leave our shores each year have a very high mortality rate. Consequently, this group of concerned angling clubs have come together to look at solving issues under their control and begin a discussion involving all parties who play a role in the management of our greatest natural resource.

One of the first tasks at hand for the newly-formed Moy Catchment Association was to elect an executive committee and put the aims and objectives listed below on paper: M.C.A Mission Statement Moy Catchment Association represents clubs, fishery owners and anglers on Moy Catchment area who are committed to working in partnership with communities and stakeholders in the Moy Valley region, with Government at national and local level, as well as others who have an interest in improving the ecology, fisheries and wildlife of the area.

The various M.C.A Aims & Objectives are:

• Involve local communities in the Moy Valley in the regeneration of the catchment area, raising their awareness of the water environment, its wildlife, salmon, trout, sea trout, pike and all native species and its ecology through a programme of education, training and special events. • Developing a self-sustaining River association in the west of Ireland as the focal point for community-led monitoring, protection and promotion of rivers and the recreational and educational benefits they can offer to the local community and visiting tourists. The M.C.A aspires to evolve into a River Trust.

• Promoting the conservation and recovery of the Moy Catchment salmon stock – salmon being a ‘feature’ for which the River Moy basin has been designated as a candidate Special Area* of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), Annexe 2 of which categorises the Atlantic Salmon as a ‘protected species’.

• Increasing recreational and tourist angling on the river via community-led promotional and tourist-support activities underpinning the work of the local Tourism Office and Inland Fisheries Ireland.

• To work with the farming community and all landowners throughout the catchment to achieve the aims of the Association.

• To educate all school children and adults in our catchment area about the magnificent and priceless resource they have on their doorstep. If this topic interests members of the public and they would like to hear more, or get involved, the MCA would certainly like to hear from you. Please email [email protected]. The Moy Catchment Association has started discussions with government agencies such as Inland Fisheries Ireland, as well as the newly formed Local Authorities Water Communities Office (LAWCO). The aforementioned Mike Kane, the communities’ water officer for the area, has being central to the process of getting interested parties communicating and begin working together. Early this year the Association, with the help of LAWCO and the IFI, plan to roll out an education package to all national schools in the Moy catchment area. The Association would like to thank Mike Kane from LAWCO and Declan Cooke from the IFI for all their personal efforts in helping the MCA to getting started. The MCA are looking forward to a long, fruitful and respectful working relationship with LAWCO, IFI and all local authorities going forward.

January 2017, Mayo Now Magazine.