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Outdoor Recreation and Fisheries

Recreation and Freshwater Fisheries

The Isle of Man has a variety of outdoor recreation activities available for locals and visitors alike to enjoy however they may also severely impact our environment. If you are intending to use the freshwater environment, the Department would ask you to care for our Island′s freshwater fishery and their habitat. Please contact DEFA Fisheries if you are unsure or wish to report any harmful activities by Telephone:+44 1624 685857 or email:

3 picture colleague, with one large picture at the top, with 2 smaller pictures below it. The first picture shows a body of water, with a tree branch going into the water. The picture shows that there are fish in the water. Picture 2 shows a group of orange fish eggs. Picture 3 overlooks a body of water with the river bank on the right side of the picture. With someone standing outside the photo holding a fishing rod that can be seen in the picture.

Fish populations must not be disturbed from October through to June (inclusive) under the Fisheries Act 2012 as this is their spawning season. Mobilised sediment may also suffocate their eggs. Riparian vegetation, stream banks and beds are prone to damage by trampling, camping and wading, creating riverbank erosion issues. Water is directly polluted by soaps, sunscreen, food particles, flea and tick treatments for dogs, human and animal waste, and fuel discharges.

We share an intimate and instinctive connection with our freshwater environment which supports all aspects of our lives, central to our wellbeing, recreation while supporting our economy. In fact, outdoor recreation is a great way to gain 2 picture colleague, the top picture shows someone holding a fish. The bottom picture shows a fish lying on a green fish net. exercise and improve wellbeing through a sense of being a part of the natural environment. But our freshwater environment is under pressure from our activities on land and water, and from a changing climate. While most of our freshwater bodies are in a reasonably healthy state, the degrading effects of pollutants, disturbance and the spread of non-native species may threaten our native freshwater fish species with local extinction or risk of becoming threatened.

The effects of our historic and present-day activities on our freshwater environment have impacts on many of the things we value as individuals, communities, and as a nation, such as our iconic Atlantic salmon. The size, timing and regularity of recreational activities plays a part. Sensitive use of our waterways is essential in ensuring the protection of freshwater fisheries, especially during their spawning season.

Environmental quality is closely linked to recreational activities in and around freshwater. The ecological health and diversity of a river or lake can be an attractive draw for locals and visitors alike, however these natural ′hotspots′ can quickly become conflicted with conservational interests. Insensitive use (including overuse) create the pressing need for effective management strategies to minimise ecological damage from recreation in many places.

Physical pressures may include any noise and waves produced by boats, damage to riparian vegetation and stream banks and beds by trampling, camping and 
wading, whilst boats and canoes can stir up bottom sediments, leading to increased water cloudiness (or turbidity). Disturbances to shorelines and riparian areas impact fish that rely on other organisms sensitive to these pressures for their survival, such as invertebrates and plants. Spawning grounds are extremely sensitive to disturbances and are protected by law.

Biological pressures can include the spread of non-native species due to angling or boating activities and the release of non-native pets into the wild. Finally, chemical pressures largely stem from increases in nutrient pollution (e.g. from nearby tourist centres), but also include pollution impacts from soap, sunscreen, food particles, flea and tick treatments for dogs, human and animal waste, and fuel discharges.

3 picture colleague, with the pictures side by side. The first picture shows part of a river with trees on either side of the bank. The second picture shows a plaque on a tree that says explore Silverburn. The third picture shows someone holding a small yellow/grey fish.

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