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100 years and the salmon are back

November 9, 2011

By Staff Reporter

This father and son combination are trying their luck on the Liffey but its neighbor, the once stricken Tolka, now beckons as an alternative.

Forget the Moy in Mayo, the Tolka is yer only man when it comes to salmon.

Salmon have returned to the once heavily polluted Tolka River in Dublin for the first time in a century.

Successful breeding of the hugely valued fish means the capital has three rivers producing wild stocks, the Irish Examiner reported.

Dr. Ciaran Byrne, chief executive of Inland Fisheries Ireland, said Dublin should now boast about its wildlife revival.

“Up to the year 2000 Dublin and Reykjavik (Iceland) were the only two capital cities in Europe which had a wild Atlantic salmon stock in a river within city boundaries,” he said.

“Now Dublin can boast about having three salmon rivers within its boundaries, the Liffey, Dodder and now the Tolka. In environmental terms this is an important step forward,” he said.

Inland Fisheries Ireland said fish surveys indicate the presence of juvenile wild Atlantic salmon in three river locations in the Glasnevin and Finglas areas. Adult fish are also being counted in the Glasnevin area.

It is the first record of wild salmon reproducing in the Tolka for at least 100 years, the authority said.

Dr. Byrne said the return of the fish was linked to reduced pollution levels.

Flood relief works had also helped with the removal or modification of a significant number of man-made weirs to open up the river system to migratory fish.

After work on the Tolka was completed, adult sea trout immediately ran the system all the way upstream to its headwaters in Dunboyne, County Meath, for the first time in at least 150 years.

According to the Examiner report, a study in 2005 found the Tolka was incapable of supporting life because it was so polluted with chemicals.

The Trinity College study found the inner basin of the river had the highest concentration of pollutants in north Dublin Bay with levels of lead, phosphorus and nitrogen so high in one stretch, from Clontarf up to Bull Bridge and Dollymount Strand, that fish and plants could not survive.

But in a matter of just a handful of year the river’s condition has improved to the point that king of fish are running in it once more.

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