In keeping with the Government’s programme for the rationalisation of State bodies, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has become operational to management the inland fisheries sector. The new body replaces the Central and seven Regional Fisheries Boards, the National Salmon Commission and eight Fisheries Co-operative Societies.
The establishment of the IFI marks a new departure in the way in which this important national resource is protected, conserved and developed. By contrast to the previous position, where there were over 150 board members overseeing the management of inland fisheries, IFI has a small focused nine member board, which will be better able to adopt a much needed high level approach to strategic issues.
With in excess of 70,000 km of rivers and streams and 144,480 hectares of lakes, over 400 staff are currently employed by the fisheries boards in managing and protecting this resource. The staffing needs of the new structure will be met through existing resources and there will be no increase in the overall staff numbers in the inland fisheries service.
Minister for Natural Resources Conor Lenihan, TD says that it would be difficult to quantify at this early juncture the anticipated savings from the establishment of the national authority as they will occur over time. However, it is expected that costs will be reduced and savings will be delivered. The budget for the sector for 2010 has already been reduced by over Eur2 million.
There has been a significant change in the approach in which the national fisheries resource is managed. This recognises the complex interplay of habitats and species, and ecological biodiversity and the further changes that are expected. The establishment of IFI is designed to enhance the State’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to these challenges.