Abbeyfeale anglers battle to clear toxic river weed

Abbeyfeale anglers are set to do battle with an invasive Asian plant which is killing off native salmon in Limerick rivers.

Himalayan Balsam is growing on the banks of the River Feale and has been competing aggressively with native species, causing havoc with the local ecosystem.

Wilfull spreading of the plant, which has pink ornamental flowers and can grow up to six feet in height, is currently banned under Irish law.

Secretary of the Abbeyfeale Anglers’ Association Denis Dennison said that he was concerned about the plant’s effect on the River Oolagh. The Oolagh is a tributary of the River Feale and an important spawning ground for sea trout and salmon. “It’s like walking through a jungle, even though it’s a flower,” he said. “It is choking the riverbanks.”

Himalayan Balsam lives for just one year, but is capable of spreading rapidly. It grows seed pods, which explode and can send 2,500 new plants up to 25 yards away.

In autumn the plant dies and leaves the bank bare of vegetation and vulnerable to erosion and collapse. This can lead to damage of fish spawning grounds and fish population decreases.

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