Friday 18 August 2017 01:50:16 PM

Quoile Barrage Improvements Welcomed by Hazzard
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SOUTH Down MLA Chris Hazzard has welcomed a decision by DARD Rivers Agency to make adjustments to the River Quoile barrage in an attempt to keep seals from entering the upper pondage which is a designated Nature Reserve. The River Quoile joins Strangford Lough a mile north of Strangford village. 

Chris Hazzard MLA with DARD Minister Michele O’Neil, Decal officials and local anglers pictured after the meeting held at Stormont.

Speaking following an inter-departmental meeting at Stormont with local anglers, DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill and officials from the Department of the Environment and Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Mr Hazzard said: “DARD engineers will extend the length of the gates in an attempt to keep seals from crossing from Strangford Lough into the Quoile. While there is some doubt as to the long-term success of this measure, I am pleased that all representatives are content to wait for a few months to see if it has been successful.

“The future success of the Quoile as a recreational fishery in its internationally renowned setting is dependent upon the diversity of fish in the pondage, and to this end it is vital that we are successful in keeping out the seals that are currently decimating the fish stocks.
“I would like to thank Minister O’Neill for her determined approach to this issue, and I look forward to reconvening the group in a few months’ time to see if the adjustment has been successful.”
Several years ago one seal entered the Quoile pondage through a gap in the Quoile barrier and started to decimate the large  stock. As a result an increase in smaller specie such as the native rudd, perch, hybrids and eels has occurred, and there has been an increase in the brown trout population.  However, the popular pike fishery has suffered with the more recent visitation of at least two other seals through the Quoile barrier and anglers have indicated that they fear this will tip the balance seriously harming fish stocks.