Fianna Fáil TD for Galway West Éamon Ó Cuív has called on the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs to ensure that pike, which were released in some of the lakes upstream of Lough Corrib, are eradicated.
Deputy Ó Cuív has raised concerns that the presence of these pike could threaten pearl mussels, which feed and develop in these waters.
He explained, “The Owenriff system is home to these mussels, but the fact that pike were released into lakes feeding this river in the last number of months is extremely worrying as they could have an impact on the pearl mussels in the river. As part of their development, pearl mussels attach themselves to the gills of small fish until they reach a certain size, when they then drop off the fish and bury themselves in the river bed. The presence of pike could see the numbers of smaller fish vastly reduced, thereby threatening the pearl mussel.
“Minister Humphreys has confirmed that “there is a possibility that pike could have an impact on the number of juvenile fish available to the mussels”. This is very worrying. She has informed me that she intends to carry out a fish host survey this year, including the Owenriff river in Oughterard to assess trends in host fish populations.
“It seems ironic that despite so much debate about the pearl mussel in Owenriff, in the context of the development, that a new and more real threat should emerge as a direct result of pike being deliberately introduced into the waters.
“It is absolutely essential that the pike, which were released in the upper reaches of the Owenriff, are now eradicated, and that steps are taken to ensure that this threat to the pearl mussel in the river does not materialise”.