Less than a sixth of anglers registered with the Loughs Agency fulfilled their legal obligation of declaring whether or not they caught Salmon or Sea Trout and went on fishing in 2014 whilst fishermen and women on the River Faughan were the least likely of all anglers across the North West to release fish.
In 2014, there were 9,123 licences purchased but only 14 per cent of anglers made their rod catch returns, according to the Loughs Agency.
But anyone who buys a Foyle and Carlingford rod licence to fish for Salmon and Sea Trout are legally obliged to let the Loughs Agency know.
Art Niven, a freshwater biologist at the Loughs Agency, explained: “Angling catch returns are used globally as a fishery management tool.
“A lot of anglers are not aware that they must make a return within 21 days of the end of the season.
“Even if they never actually went fishing or didn’t catch anything and have a nil return to make.
“The information is vitally important in developing sustainable fishery management policy for key species like Salmon and Trout.”
Based on anglers’ catch returns in 2014, in the River Faughan, 34 per cent of Salmon caught were released.
In the River Mourne 38 per cent were released, 44 per cent in the River Strule and 79 per cent in the River Derg.
Local angler John McLaughlin from Bridge, Guns and Tackle, who fishes the River Finn, said: “The angling returns are very important to give the Loughs Agency a bigger picture of how healthy the stocks are.
“All anglers should make their annual return, even if they never got out.”
Ivan Grieves, Treasurer of Omagh Anglers, said: “Omagh Angling Association endorse the Loughs Agency’s views of the importance of making a catch return and we encourage all our members to make their return.”
Lionel Knobbs, Angler Development Manager said: “We are also interested in returns from anglers who fished for coarse fish.
“The data is important to identify where coarse fish are being caught, species, sizes as well as monitoring trends such as increase or decreases in the number of people coarse fishing.”
To make your return, complete the table at the bottom of the original licence you purchased and return it, with any unused tags using the postage paid envelope given at point of purchase, or, drop it into one of our office at Prehen or Carlingford Village.
Anglers must make their returns on or before Thursday, January 21, 2016.
More information about the importance of catch returns can be found on our website www.loughs-agency.org.