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Displaying items by tag: Loughs Agency

As Loughs Agency marks Invasive Species Week, the pressing need for heightened awareness and collaborative efforts to mitigate the impact of these species becomes increasingly evident. Invasive non-native species pose a major threat to the delicate balance of the ecosystems in the Foyle and Carlingford catchment areas.

Over the last fifty years, human activity has led to a sharp increase in global travel, resulting in more opportunities for plants and animals to be moved across the world. Additionally, climate change is expected to influence species distributions by affecting potential species ranges.

Characterised by its yellowish/brown shell with distinctive ridges, the Asian Clam is a freshwater bivalve which impacts on our native aquatic systems as a result of its rapid rates of reproduction and its filter feeding activity. Asian clam disrupts native ecosystems, displacing native filter feeding species like the critically endangered freshwater pearl mussel.Characterised by its yellowish/brown shell with distinctive ridges, the Asian Clam is a freshwater bivalve which impacts on our native aquatic systems as a result of its rapid rates of reproduction and its filter feeding activity. Asian clam disrupts native ecosystems, displacing native filter feeding species like the critically endangered freshwater pearl mussel.

There are multiple pathways through which a potential invasive species can be introduced into a new environment, with introductions being accidental or deliberate. The consequences of these introductions are often unpredictable, and the impacts of INNS on native habitats can be complex and devastating, leading to ecological changes, economic losses, and social impacts.

Japanese Knotweed: Originally introduced as an ornamental plant, Japanese Knotweed now infests various habitats, including riverbanks, choking out native species and exacerbating soil erosion.Japanese Knotweed: Originally introduced as an ornamental plant, Japanese Knotweed now infests various habitats, including riverbanks, choking out native species and exacerbating soil erosion

Aquatic habitats are particularly at risk from invasive species, as water provides ample opportunity for species to disperse through interconnected aquatic systems. Aquatic INNS tend to be well adapted to spread naturally in aquatic systems, and human activities such as recreational and commercial use of water also aid in the dispersal of aquatic INNS.

Himalayan Balsam's uncontrolled growth presents a significant ecological hazard. Its tendency to outcompete native plants and spread seeds downstream exacerbates erosion and disrupts river ecosystems.Himalayan Balsam's uncontrolled growth presents a significant ecological hazard. Its tendency to outcompete native plants and spread seeds downstream exacerbates erosion and disrupts river ecosystems.

The recognition of these issues during Invasive Species Week serves as a reminder of the urgent need for collaborative efforts to address this growing concern and protect our native habitats from the impacts of INNS.

Several invasive species have established a foothold in the Foyle and Carlingford catchment areas, increasing the need for proactive measures. Notable among these are:

Asian Clam: Characterised by its yellowish/brown shell with distinctive ridges, the Asian Clam is a freshwater bivalve which impacts on our native aquatic systems as a result of its rapid rates of reproduction and its filter feeding activity. Asian clam disrupts native ecosystems, displacing native filter feeding species like the critically endangered freshwater pearl mussel.

Giant Hogweed: Giant Hogweed sap contains agents that cause severe skin inflammation when exposed to sunlight. This raises concerns for both public safety and the integrity of ecosystems.

Himalayan Balsam: Himalayan Balsam's uncontrolled growth presents a significant ecological hazard. Its tendency to outcompete native plants and spread seeds downstream exacerbates erosion and disrupts river ecosystems.

Japanese Knotweed: Originally introduced as an ornamental plant, Japanese Knotweed now infests various habitats, including riverbanks, choking out native species and exacerbating soil erosion.

Pink Salmon: Pink Salmon threaten indigenous salmon populations through competition for resources and transmission of parasites.

In response to the threat of INNS, Loughs Agency urges public vigilance and proactive engagement. If encountered, individuals are encouraged to record sightings, refrain from disturbing the species, and promptly report findings to the Agency.

Sharon McMahon, Loughs Agency Chief Executive, said: “Invasive species continue to arrive and threaten our wildlife and ecosystems, so it is imperative that preventative actions are taken to avoid further spread and introductions.

“Through a shared commitment to awareness and collaboration, we can ensure the protection of our freshwater ecosystems for future generations."

Further information on what Loughs Agency is doing to combat invasive species can be found at loughs-agency.org.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Loughs Agency, in collaboration with Enagh Seniors Group and volunteers from River Faughan Anglers, recently organised a tree-planting event at Teenaght, situated along the scenic banks of the River Faughan near Claudy.

Approximately 150 willow saplings supplied by Enagh Seniors Group and 1000 native broadleaf trees supplied by the Woodland Trust were successfully planted along the riverbanks. This collaborative effort will provide shade and prevent erosion, as well as bank stability and leaf litter for young fish. It will also foster biodiversity and bolster conservation efforts by creating new nature corridors along the riverbanks.

Loughs Agency Fisheries Inspector, Jason McCartney expressed his satisfaction in utilising the area for the saplings. He said: “In 2023, Loughs Agency staff completed nature restoration projects in the upper reaches of the River Faughan. This consisted of creating 1.1 km of new riparian buffer zones, improvements to 350 metres of bankside stabilisation, and enhancements to 450 metres of salmonid spawning habitat.

“Within the last year, Enagh Seniors Group raised around 150 willow seedlings that were ready to be planted, and, following discussions, it was decided that these saplings would benefit from being planted at the site in Teenaght, further enriching the local environment. We were pleased to witness the planting of not only the saplings but also an additional 1000 native broadleaf trees, which will help restore the natural habitat and improve the biodiversity value of the River Faughan and its surrounding areas.”

Dr Robert Murtland of the Enagh Seniors Group also expressed his enthusiasm for the project: “Enagh Seniors Group was motivated to contribute to this initiative, which not only enhances the protection of the River Faughan but also secures its long-term sustainability for future generations.
“This initiative demonstrates the achievable results through collaboration within grassroots initiatives. It also highlights the importance of cooperative partnerships among local stakeholder organisations, such as Enagh Seniors Group and the River Faughan Anglers, in working alongside Loughs Agency in the conservation and protection of this iconic natural resource.”

Sean McLaughlin from River Faughan Anglers also commented on the positive collaborative work undertaken: “River Faughan Anglers were delighted to be involved in this project. It goes to show what great work can be achieved when like-minded organisations work together.
“The River Faughan is our home, and this project on the riverbank ties in perfectly with the in-river work carried out to maintain the Faughan as a thriving river for both salmon and trout for many years to come.”

Published in Angling
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Loughs Agency staff traded their water testing kits for wetsuits and rescue lines after undergoing vital swift water training with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS).

The collaboration stemmed from NIFRS seeking information about potential training exercises on local rivers, mindful of the impact on spawning salmon. Discussions then developed into an opportunity for Loughs Agency personnel to sharpen their own skills in a potentially life-saving domain.

Dressed in dry suits and PPE, the participants received a thorough briefing from NIFRS instructors on navigating fast-flowing currents before learning critical techniques for self-rescue in case of an accidental plunge, and practising manoeuvres to reach safety unassisted.

The training progressed to throws and rescues, with Loughs Agency staff honing their skills in swiftly extracting a casualty from the water. The instructors then tackled scenarios involving snagged limbs and submerged victims, equipping the Agency participants with the knowledge to handle diverse emergencies.

Loughs Agency staff traded their water testing kits for wetsuits and rescue lines after undergoing vital swift water training with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS).Loughs Agency staff traded their water testing kits for wetsuits and rescue lines after undergoing vital swift water training with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS).

Sharon McMahon, CEO of Loughs Agency, commented: “The day proved hugely successful, instilling a newfound confidence in the team. We're immensely grateful to NIFRS for this invaluable training. Our staff now feel empowered to handle these situations themselves if necessary, or to confidently assist NIFRS when called upon.”

NIFRS Station Commander, Stephen Gaffney, echoed the sentiment, highlighting the broader benefits of the collaboration: “NIFRS and the Loughs Agency had a fantastic multi-agency training day on the River Faughan. This training enables us to share skills and knowledge, test our interoperability, and strengthen our operational response to water incidents. We look forward to continuing to build this interdependent relationship, where we can reduce risks and protect our environment.”

Published in Loughs Agency
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The Loughs Agency has announced the launch of its Fisheries and Angling Improvement Strategy, accompanied by action plans for the Foyle and Carlingford catchment areas.

This comprehensive strategy maps out the Loughs Agency’s commitment to the sustainable expansion of fisheries and angling between now and 2030, aiming to deliver numerous benefits for both the angling community and the wider public.

It draws on the knowledge of the agency’s staff as well as consultations with angling clubs — “guaranteeing an inclusive nature to this process”, the agency adds.

“The international importance of Loughs Agency’s fisheries and angling products is a source of great pride, and we are uniquely placed to help provide social, environmental, and economic benefits for communities in the Foyle and Carlingford catchment areas,” says Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon in her introduction to the strategy document.

“We will undoubtedly face challenges as we strive to continue developing the fisheries and angling in our remit areas, but with a clear strategic pathway we can ensure these resources are improved for all.”

The Fisheries and Angling Improvement Strategy 2022-2030 is available to download from the Loughs Agency website, as are the Fisheries Improvement Plan and Angling Action Plan for the the Foyle and Carlingford catchment areas.

Published in Loughs Agency
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Northern Ireland's new Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir, recently paid a visit to the Loughs Agency Headquarters in Prehen, gaining first-hand insights into the organisation's essential work. The visit was warmly welcomed by Sharon McMahon, Chief Executive Officer of Loughs Agency, who emphasised the importance of showcasing the Agency's pivotal role in safeguarding aquatic ecosystems, especially in light of current environmental challenges.

During his visit, Minister Muir explored the Agency's facilities and witnessed live demonstrations and discussions led by key personnel. He acknowledged the Agency's commitment to addressing present challenges and planning for a sustainable future. The visit involved a comprehensive exploration of the Agency's facilities, featuring live demonstrations and discussions led by key personnel.

L-R) David Simpson DAERA Corporate Branch, Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir, Board Member Laurence Arbuckle, Chief Executive Officer of Loughs Agency, Sharon McMahon, Board Member Conor Corr and Joanne McClements DAERA Corporate Branch.  L-R) David Simpson DAERA Corporate Branch, Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir, Board Member Laurence Arbuckle, Chief Executive Officer of Loughs Agency, Sharon McMahon, Board Member Conor Corr and Joanne McClements DAERA Corporate Branch

Minister Muir commended the dedicated team for their tireless efforts and expressed his eagerness to work with the Agency over the time ahead. He also affirmed DAERA’s support for Loughs Agency in the environmental landscape, emphasizing the continued importance of the Agency's work.

Environmental Ecologist Andrew Rice, Director of Corporate Services JP O’Doherty, and Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir.Environmental Ecologist Andrew Rice, Director of Corporate Services JP O’Doherty, and Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir

“The efforts undertaken by Loughs Agency are indispensable for the health of our waterways and the preservation of our fisheries," said Minister Muir. "Loughs Agency remains a key player in our environmental efforts, and this visit reaffirms the government's commitment to collaboration and support for initiatives contributing to a sustainable and thriving environment."

The visit provided an opportunity for the Minister to gain a deeper understanding of the Agency's research and preservation initiatives. It is hoped that the visit will help to further strengthen the government's collaboration with Loughs Agency in its efforts to safeguard Northern Ireland's aquatic ecosystems.

Marine Scientist Ben Holly and Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir.Marine Scientist Ben Holly and Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir

(L-R) Fisheries Inspector Jason McCartney, Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir, and Director of Conservation and Protection Seamus Cullinan(L-R) Fisheries Inspector Jason McCartney, Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir, and Director of Conservation and Protection Seamus Cullinan

Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir, and Director of Conservation and Protection Seamus CullinanMinister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir, and Director of Conservation and Protection Seamus Cullinan

Published in Loughs Agency
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Suspension of the native oyster fishery in the Foyle area will continue for another month, with the closure extended until 6pm on Sunday 31 March.

The Loughs Agency says it made the decision following an analysis of the latest stock assessment data, which it says highlights the need to prioritise conservation.

“It is not a decision we have taken lightly,” Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon said. “We are fully aware of the impact that this will have on our native oyster fishery stakeholders in relation to the fishing of oysters in Lough Foyle.

“However, it is imperative that we take decisions in a science-led approach with the future sustainability of the fishery and the viability of the oyster population in mind.”

McMahon said Lough Agency marine scientists “made clear that removal of 100% of the stock above the minimum landing size is not sustainable, and removing a large proportion of stock over 80mm this season could have a detrimental impact on future recruitment to the population.

“Our remit as a regulatory body allows us to make informed management decisions such as this in real-time, which will help maintain a sustainable fishery for the future.”

Scientific data from the latest stock assessment can be found below:

Biomass summary

Population summary

Flatground summary

Great Bank summary

Perch summary

Quigleys Point summary

Southside North summary

Southside South summary

Published in Loughs Agency

The Loughs Agency is set to lead a major marine tracking project after €1.6m of EU funding was secured by the European Tracking Network (ETN).

The successful bid came following an open call for funding by the EU’s Biodiversa+ scheme, which is designed to support research proposals relating to biodiversity projects.

At the national level, funding has been provided by the Environmental Protection Agency to enable the Loughs Agency to participate in the programme.

The three-year North East Atlantic Marine Tracking Network (NorTrack) project aims to monitor the movements of aquatic species critical to the North-East Atlantic (NEA).

This collaborative initiative will also address pressing questions related to major ecological challenges facing this vital marine region.

The remote tracking of animals, which is known in research circles as telemetry, has already provided vital information about the biology and ecology of aquatic species.

In addition to Atlantic salmon and sea trout, the project will enable the Loughs Agency to study the movements of European eel as well as predator–prey interactions.

NorTrack will work closely with the Horizon Europe-funded STRAITS (Strategic Infrastructure for Improved Animal Tracking in Europeans Seas) project, which has distributed acoustic telemetry infrastructure throughout Europe so that the movements of various aquatic species can be studied.

‘These types of collaborative research initiatives are crucial in gathering data which can inform policy and decision-making’

Sharon McMahon, Loughs Agency chief executive said: “We are delighted to once again be playing a leading role in a major pan-European biodiversity project, supported by our brilliant colleagues at ETN.

“These types of collaborative research initiatives are crucial in gathering data which can inform policy and decision-making for matters within our remit.

“The funding obtained ensures that Loughs Agency can continue the exemplary work carried out in recent years on projects such as SeaMonitor and STRAITS, and the team looks forward to making a difference.”

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Tara Higgins, EPA programme manager said: “The EPA is committed to supporting Ireland’s participation and leadership in important transnational research partnerships like Biodiversa+.

“We are delighted to fund the Loughs Agency in leading the NorTrack research project, which will advance marine biodiversity monitoring in the North-East Atlantic and in turn contribute to international marine management, conservation and policy.

“The EPA also acknowledges the important role of our co-funding partners, the Marine Institute and the National Parks & Wildlife Service, in supporting the NorTrack project.”

More information on this project can be found at www.europeantrackingnetwork.org/nortrack.

Published in Loughs Agency
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Loughs Agency has made the decision to retain salmon carcass tag numbers for angling licence holders for the 2024 season in line with the policy followed in the previous three years at a maximum of one blue tag (1st March to 31st May) and two black tags (1st June to 31st October).

Based on the information collected in 2023, a continual fall in salmon numbers has been recorded year on year, and consequently, the previously adopted precautionary approach needs to be maintained.

The principal objective of this measure is to carefully manage salmon stocks in the Foyle and Carlingford systems due to concern from within the Agency over the conservation levels of the species.

Loughs Agency has undertaken a review of legislation and has come to the following conclusion: “It is the view of some stakeholders that the Agency should manage carcass tags on a catchment-by-catchment basis. The use of real-time figures can be beneficial in informing decision-making on the number of tags to be distributed per year, and how many tags can be given out for angling in each catchment.”

This viewpoint is to be considered in regulatory changes once actions from the review can be implemented.

In the majority of rivers throughout Northern Ireland and in many locations globally, catch and release is now mandatory for salmon angling due to the pressures on sustainable populations. In these areas, no carcass tags are issued, and anglers are forbidden from retaining any fish. It is encouraging that most anglers in the Foyle and Carlingford areas are aware of these pressures, and now voluntarily practice catch and release.

Loughs Agency also recognises the value of anglers on the rivers and their contributions towards sustainability. Considering this, the Agency has agreed a compromise while still fulfilling obligations under the Habitats Directive. Salmon are a selection feature of Foyle Rivers that have been designated as Special Areas of Conservation.

In recent years this has led to the suspension of commercial salmon netting, while waters under the jurisdiction of Loughs Agency have subsequently been declared as catch and release only.

Loughs Agency is continuously working to refine estimates of salmon stocks in the Foyle and Carlingford catchments.

Published in Loughs Agency
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In late October and early November, Foyle College became the latest and final school to complete the 2023 Foyle and Carlingford Ambassador Programme after a week of engagement and educational workshops across the Foyle catchment area.

On the Monday, 21 students from Foyle College were welcomed to the Loughs Agency in Prehen, making them the first school group invited to the agency by the Education Team since before the pandemic.

In the afternoon, the group were given talks and demonstrations from Diego del Villar and Kieran Byrne on some of the work they do for the agency, including acoustic telemetry, marine life tracking and water quality monitoring.

The day finished off with some map workshops with the group on the Foyle catchment, allowing them to get more familiar with the agency’s jurisdiction and the areas they would be visiting throughout the week.

Foyle College Ambassadors learn about the Lough Agency’s work at its HQ in PrehenFoyle College Ambassadors learn about the Lough Agency’s work at its HQ in Prehen

Tuesday saw the Education Team join up with FROG Outdoor Education at a crisp but sunny Moyagh Fishery to give the Ambassadors an opportunity to try coarse fishing and receive coaching from professional angling guides. Over 200 fish were caught, with some participants catching over 20 roach individually.

Ambassadors were taught how to safely catch and release the fish once caught, and afterwards received their Level One Cast Award. Some Ambassadors expressed an interest in taking up fishing and were subsequently given details of local angling clubs within the area.

The Ambassadors tried out coarse fishing with FROG Outdoor Education at a crisp but sunny Moyagh FisheryThe Ambassadors tried out coarse fishing with FROG Outdoor Education at a crisp but sunny Moyagh Fishery

On Wednesday, the Ambassadors made the trip from their school to Ness Woods for a day of river and woodland habitat studies. Fisheries inspector Jason McCartney discussed his role in the Loughs Agency and the work that goes on within the Conservation and Protection Directorate. He showed the group some native oysters, seized nets and key equipment such as thermal cameras.

The group of 21 pupils were then split into two groups and given different tasks in the late morning. The first group carried out practice kick samples and macroinvertebrate identification to help indicate the overall water quality of the river. The second carried out key weather observations that need noted when carrying out a freshwater survey, as well as learning all about the biodiversity within the woodlands.

Afterwards the group participated in a game based around the migration of the Atlantic salmon, eventually switching tasks and partaking in each other’s activities.

In the afternoon the two groups were brought together to carry out CSSI macroinvertebrate surveys, giving the river an overall score of ‘Good’ water quality. The Ambassadors loved getting in the water while learning about the waterways and how the Loughs Agency monitor the health of the rivers.

Foyle College Ambassadors were engaged in river and woodland habitat studies in Ness WoodsFoyle College Ambassadors were engaged in river and woodland habitat studies in Ness Woods

Thursday was a coastal exploration Day on Benone Beach, with the Ambassadors getting the chance to investigate the marine biodiversity washed up along the coastline and carrying out a litter pick.

A coastal exploration workshop in the afternoon saw the Ambassadors find everything from shore crab carapaces, diverse ranges of seaweeds and shells, shark and ray egg cases, welk eggs and much more.

Ambassadors then learned how to identify many of the marine species, and most importantly, how to gently and safely handle and minimise disturbance, returning anything that’s found back to its natural place.

The day was finished off with the Ambassadors creating some fantastic beach art from the sand, shells and any other natural materials they could find.

The students explored marine biodiversity on Benone BeachThe students explored marine biodiversity on Benone Beach

There was a quick change of plan on Friday, meaning the Ambassadors ended up on a trip to Magilligan Point.

The Ambassadors started off with a quick litter pick to clean the beach before taking a walk through the dunes to the Martello tower, where Michael talked of the importance of the structure for the defence of the River Foyle in the 1800s.

Magilligan Point was the perfect location to talk about the Foyle system and the flows out towards the Atlantic Ocean. The group then discussed everything they had learned over the previous five days.

In the afternoon, to mark the end of the week, several team-building games took place, allowing the group some free time on the beach with some of the Ambassadors rock pooling, playing football and some even ‘sunbathing’.

The week ended with a trip to Magilligan PointThe week ended with a trip to Magilligan Point

Overall, this was a fantastic week, where Loughs Agency staff witnessed a growth in confidence, the overcoming of fears and a new awareness and interest in local ecosystems being developed among the participants.

There were great conversations around environmental awareness, discussions on everyday life as a teenager and honest revelations on prospects. For many of the Ambassadors, this was their first experience in these types of outdoor locations, further emphasising the importance of open-air environmental education. The hope is that this experience has planted many seeds for future decision making when it comes to protecting and conserving the natural world.

The Loughs Agency offers a huge thank you to everyone who helped in the delivery of the programme, staff members Diego, Kieran and Jason for their time and efforts, and especially all the Ambassadors who took part in the Foyle and Carlingford Ambassador Programme.

The Loughs Agency will begin recruitment in the new year for the Foyle & Carlingford 2024 schools programme and early spring for the summer programme. If your school is interested in taking part, get in touch with [email protected].

Published in Environment

The public consultation has now commenced for the Loughs Agency’s draft Climate Action Plan, which outlines how the organisation aims to reduce its carbon emissions in the coming years.

Responses are welcome for the next 12 weeks, with the consultation period closing on 31 January 2024.

The draft Climate Action Plan aims to reflect the leadership role the organisation wishes to take while supporting a modal shift away from high-carbon energy and implementing climate-resilient solutions for both the Foyle and Carlingford catchment areas.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Loughs Agency is holding two information sessions this week with staff present at both sessions to answer questions on the draft plan while also assisting with the feedback process.

Alternatively, those interested in having their say on these strategy documents can do so in their own time by reading the draft plan and completing the online survey.

Published in Loughs Agency
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General Information on using Waterways Ireland inland navigations

Safety on the Water

All users of the navigations are strongly recommended to make themselves aware of safety on the water for whatever activity they are involved in and to read the advice offered by the various governing bodies and by:

The Dept. of Transport, Ireland: www.gov.ie/transport and The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, UK, The RNLI – Water Safety Ireland for information in terms of drowning prevention and water safety.

Registration of Vessels

All vessels using the Shannon Navigation, which includes the Shannon-Erne Waterways and the Erne System must be registered with Waterways Ireland. Only open undecked boats with an engine of 15 horsepower or less on the Shannon Navigation, and vessels of 10 horsepower or less on the Erne System, are exempt. Registration is free of charge.

Craft registration should be completed online at: https://www.waterwaysireland.org/online-services/craft-registration

Permits for use of the Grand and Royal Canals and the Barrow Navigation

All vessels using the Grand and Royal Canals and the Barrow Navigation must display appropriate valid Permit(s) i.e A Combined Mooring and Passage Permit (€126) and if not intending to move every five days, an Extended Mooring Permit (€152).

Permit applications should be completed online at: https://www.waterwaysireland.org/online-services/canal-permits

Passage on the Royal and Grand Canals – Dublin Area

For boat passage through the locks east of Lock 12 into / out of Dublin on either the Royal or Grand Canals, Masters are requested to contact the Waterways Ireland Eastern Regional Office (M-F 9.30am-4.30pm) on tel: +353(0)1 868 0148 or email [email protected] prior to making passage in order to plan the necessary lock-keeping assistance arrangements.

On the Grand Canal a minimum of two days notice prior to the planned passage should be given, masters should note that with the exception of pre-arranged events, a maximum of 2 boats per day will be taken through the locks, travelling either east or west.

Movements in or out of the city will be organised by prior arrangement to take place as a single movement in one day. Boaters will be facilitated to travel the system if their passage is considered to be safe by Waterways Ireland and they have the valid permit(s) for mooring and passage.

Newcomen Lifting Bridge

On the Royal Canal two weeks’ notice of bridge passage (Newcomen Lifting Bridge) is required for the pre-set lift date, and lock assistance will then also be arranged. A minimum of 2 boats is required for a bridge lift to go ahead.

Waterways Ireland Eastern Regional Office (Tel: +353(0)1 868 0148 or [email protected] ) is the point of contact for the bridge lift.

A maximum number of boats passing will be implemented to keep to the times given above for the planned lifts (16 for the Sat / Sun lifts & 8 for the weekday lifts). Priority will be given on a first come first served basis.

On day of lift, boaters and passengers must follow guidance from Waterways Ireland staff about sequence of passage under bridge & through Lock 1, and must remain within signed and designated areas.

Events Held on the Waterways

All organised events taking place on the waterways must have the prior approval of Waterways Ireland. This is a twelve week process and application forms must be accompanied with the appropriate insurance, signed indemnity and risk assessment. The application should be completed on the Waterways Ireland events page at :

https://www.waterwaysireland.org/online-services/event-approval

Time Limits on Mooring in Public Harbours

On the Shannon Navigation and the Shannon-Erne Waterway craft may berth in public harbours for five consecutive days or a total of seven days in any one month.

On the Erne System, revised Bye Laws state that: No master or owner shall permit a vessel, boat or any floating or sunken object to remain moored at or in the vicinity of any public mooring, including mooring at any other public mooring within 3 kilometres of that location, for more than 3 consecutive days and shall not moor at that same mooring or any other public mooring within 3 kilometres of that location within the following 3 consecutive days without prior permission by an authorised official.

Winter Mooring on the Shannon Navigation and Shannon Erne Waterway

Winter mooring may be availed of by owners during the period 1 Nov to 31 Mar by prior arrangement and payment of a charge of €63.50 per craft. Craft not availing of Winter Mooring must continue to comply with the “5 Day Rule”. Winter Mooring applications should be completed online at : https://www.waterwaysireland.org/online-services/winter-moorings-booking

Owners should be aware that electricity supply and water supply to public moorings is disconnected for the winter months. This is to protect against frost damage, to reduce running costs and to minimise maintenance requirements during the winter months.

Vessel owners are advised that advance purchasing of electricity on the power bollards leading up to the disconnection date should be minimal. Electricity credit existing on the bollards will not be recoverable after the winter decommissioning date. Both services will be reinstated prior to the commencement of the next boating season.

Smart Cards

Waterways Ireland smart cards are used to operate locks on the Shannon Erne Waterway, to access the service blocks, to use the pump-outs along the navigations, to avail of electrical power at Waterways Ireland jetties.

Berthing in Public Harbours

Masters are reminded of the following:

  • Equip their vessel with mooring lines of appropriate length and strength and only secure their craft to mooring bollards and cleats provided for this purpose.
  • Ensure the available berth is suitable to the length of your vessel, do not overhang the mooring especially on finger moorings on floating pontoon moorings.
  • Ensure mooring lines, electric cables and fresh water hoses do not create a trip hazard on public jetties for others users.
  • Carry sufficient fenders to prevent damage to your own vessel, other vessels and WI property.
  • Allow sufficient space between your vessel and the vessel ahead /astern (c.1m) for fire safety purposes and /or to recover somebody from the water.
  • Do not berth more than two vessels side by side and ensure there is safe access/egress at all times between vessels and onto the harbour itself.
  • Do not berth in such a way to prevent use of harbour safety ladders, slipways or pump-outs.
  • Do not allow the bow of your vessel to overhang the walkway of a floating mooring thus creating a hazard for others with an overhanging anchor or bow fendering.
  • Animals are not allowed to be loose or stray at any time.
  • Harbour and jetty infrastructure such as railings, power pedestals, fresh water taps, electric light poles, safety bollards, ladders etc are not designed for the purpose of mooring craft , they will not bear the strain of a vessel and will be damaged.
  • At Carrybridge on the Erne System, Masters of vessels are not permitted to use stern on mooring. Masters of vessels must use the mooring fingers for mooring of vessels and for embarkation / disembarkation from vessels.

Passenger Vessel Berths

Masters of vessels should not berth on passenger vessel berths where it is indicated that an arrival is imminent. Passenger vessels plying the navigations generally only occupy the berths to embark and disembark passengers and rarely remain on the berths for extended periods or overnight.

Lock Lead-in Jetties

Lead-in jetties adjacent to the upstream and downstream gates at lock chambers are solely for the purpose of craft waiting to use the lock and should not be used for long term berthing.

Vessel Wake

Vessel wake, that is, the wave generated by the passage of the boat through the water, can sometimes be large, powerful and destructive depending on the hull shape and engine power of the vessel. This wake can be detrimental to other users of the navigation when it strikes their craft or inundates the shoreline or riverbank. Masters are requested to frequently look behind and check the effect of their wake / wash particularly when passing moored vessels, on entering harbours and approaching jetties and to be aware of people pursuing other activities such as fishing on the riverbank.

Speed Restriction

A vessel or boat shall not be navigated on the Shannon Navigation at a speed in excess of 5 kph when within 200 metres of a bridge, quay, jetty or wharf, when in a harbour or canal or when passing within 100 metres of a moored vessel or boat.

Vessels navigating the Shannon-Erne Waterway should observe the general 5 kph speed limit which applies along the waterway. This is necessary in order to prevent damage to the banks caused by excessive wash from vessels.

Vessels navigating the Erne System should observe the statutory 5kt / 6mph / 10kph speed limit areas.

A craft on the Royal and Grand canals shall not be navigated at a speed in excess of 6km per hour.

A craft on the Barrow Navigation shall not be navigated at a speed in excess of 11km per hour except as necessary for safe navigation in conditions of fast flow.

Bank Erosion

Narrow sections of all the navigations are particularly prone to bank erosion due to the large wash generated by some craft. Masters are requested to be vigilant and to slow down to a speed sufficient to maintain steerage when they observe the wash of their craft inundating the river banks.

Unusual Waterborne Activity

Unusual waterborne vessels may be encountered from time to time, such as, hovercraft or amphibious aircraft / seaplanes. Masters of such craft are reminded to apply the normal “Rule of the Road” when they meet conventional craft on the water and to allow extra room to manoeuvre in the interest of safety.

Sailing Activity

Mariners will encounter large numbers of sailing dinghies from late June to August in the vicinity of Lough Derg, Lough Ree and Lower Lough Erne. Sailing courses are marked by yellow buoys to suit weather conditions on the day. Vessels should proceed at slow speed and with due caution and observe the rules of navigation when passing these fleets, as many of the participants are junior sailors under training.

Rowing

Mariners should expect to meet canoes and vessels under oars on any part of the navigations, but more so in the vicinity of Athlone, Carrick-on-Shannon, Coleraine, Enniskillen and Limerick. Masters are reminded to proceed at slow speed and especially to reduce their wash to a minimum when passing these craft as they can be easily upset and swamped due to their very low freeboard and always be prepared to give way in any given traffic situation.

Canoeing

Canoeing is an adventure sport and participants are strongly recommended to seek the advice of the sport’s governing bodies i.e Canoeing Ireland and the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland, before venturing onto the navigations.

Persons in charge of canoes are reminded of the inherent danger to these craft associated with operating close to weirs, sluice gates, locks and other infrastructure particularly when rivers are in flood and large volumes of water are moving through the navigations due to general flood conditions or very heavy localised precipitation e.g. turbulent and broken water, stopper waves. Shooting weirs is prohibited without prior permission of Waterways Ireland.

Canoeists should check with lockkeepers prior entering a lock to ensure passage is done in a safe manner. Portage is required at all unmanned locks.

Canoe Trail Network – "Blueways"

Masters of powered craft are reminded that a canoe trail network is being developed across all navigations and to expect more organised canoeing along these trails necessitating slow speed and minimum wash when encountering canoeists, rowing boats etc

Rockingham and Drummans Island Canals – Lough Key

It is expected that work on Rockingham and Drummans Island Canals on Lough Key will be completed in 2021. Access to these canals will be for non-powered craft only, eg canoes, kayaks, rowing boats.

Fast Powerboats and Personal Watercraft (Jet Skis)

Masters of Fast Powerboats (speed greater than 17kts) and Personal Watercraft (i.e.Jet Skis) are reminded of the inherent dangers associated with high speed on the water and especially in the confines of small bays and narrow sections of the navigations. Keeping a proper look-out, making early alterations to course and /or reducing speed will avoid conflict with slower vessels using the navigation. Personal Watercraft are not permitted to be used on the canals.

Towing Waterskiers, Wakeboarders, Doughnuts etc

Masters of vessels engaged in any of these activities are reminded of the manoeuvring constraints imposed upon their vessel by the tow and of the added responsibilities that they have to the person(s) being towed. These activities should be conducted in areas which are clear of conflicting traffic. It is highly recommended that a person additional to the master be carried to act as a “look-out” to keep the tow under observation at all times.

Prohibition on Swimming

Swimming in the navigable channel, particularly at bridges, is dangerous and is prohibited due to the risk of being run over by a vessel underway in the navigation.

Age Restrictions on operating of powered craft

In the Republic of Ireland, Statutory Instrument 921 of 2005 provides the legal requirements regarding the minimum age for operating of powered craft. The Statutory Instrument contains the following requirements:

- The master or owner of a personal watercraft or a fast power craft shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 16 years does not operate or control the craft

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft powered by an engine with a rating of more than 5 horse power or 3.7 kilowatts shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 12 years does not operate or control the craft.

Lifejackets and Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

Lifejackets and PFD’s are the single most important items of personal protective equipment to be used on a vessel and should be worn especially when the vessel is being manoeuvred such as entering / departing a lock, anchoring, coming alongside or departing a jetty or quayside.

In the Republic of Ireland, Statutory Instrument 921 of 2005 provides the legal requirements regarding the wearing of Personal Flotation Devices. The Statutory Instrument contains the following requirements:

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) shall ensure, that there are, at all times on board the craft, sufficient suitable personal flotation devices for each person on board.

- A person on a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) of less than 7 metres length overall shall wear a suitable personal flotation device while on board an open craft or while on the deck of decked craft, other than when the craft is made fast to the shore or at anchor.

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 16 years complies with paragraph above.

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft), shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 16 years wears a suitable personal flotation device while on board an open craft or while on the deck of a decked craft other than when it is made fast to the shore or at anchor.

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person wears a suitable personal flotation device, at all times while – (a) being towed by the craft, (b) on board a vessel or object of any kind which is being towed by the craft.

Further information is available at: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2005/si/921/made/en/print

Firing Range Danger Area – Lough Ree

The attention of mariners is drawn to the Irish Defence Forces Firing Range situated in the vicinity of buoys No’s 2 and 3, on Lough Ree on the Shannon Navigation. This range is used regularly for live firing exercises, throughout the year, all boats and vessels should stay clear of the area marked with yellow buoys showing a yellow "X" topmark and displaying the word "Danger".

Shannon Navigation, Portumna Swing Bridge Tolls

No attempt should be made by Masters’ of vessels to pay the bridge toll while making way through the bridge opening. Payment will only be taken by the Collector from Masters when they are secured alongside the jetties north and south of the bridge.

Navigating from Killaloe to Limerick on the Shannon Navigation

The navigation from Killaloe to Limerick involves passage through Ardnacrusha locks, the associated headrace and tailrace and the Abbey River into Limerick City. Careful passage planning is required to undertake this voyage. Considerations include: lock passage at Ardnacrusha, water flow in the navigation, airdraft under bridges on Abbey River in Limerick, state of tide in Limerick

Users are advised to contact the ESB Ardnacrusha hydroelectric power station (00353 (0)87 9970131) 48 hours in advance of commencing their journey to book passage through the locks at Ardnacrusha. It is NOT advised to undertake a voyage if more than one turbine is operating (20MW), due to the increased velocity of flow in the navigation channel, which can be dangerous. To ascertain automatically in real time how many turbines are running, users can phone +353 (0)87 6477229.

For safety reasons the ESB has advised that only powered craft with a capacity in excess of 5 knots are allowed to enter Ardnacrusha Headrace and Tailrace Canals.

Passage through Sarsfield Lock should be booked on +353-87-7972998, on the day prior to travel and it should be noted also that transit is not possible two hours either side of low water.

A Hydrographic survey in 2020 of the navigation channel revealed that the approach from Shannon Bridge to Sarsfield Lock and the Dock area has silted up. Masters of vessels and water users are advised to navigate to the Lock from Shannon bridge on a rising tide one or two hours before High Tide.

Lower Bann Navigation

The attention of all users is drawn to the “Users Code for the Lower Bann”, in particular to that section covering “Flow in the River” outlining the dangers for users both on the banks and in the navigation, associated with high flow rates when the river is in spate. Canoeists should consult and carry a copy of the “Lower Bann Canoe Trail” guide issued by the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland. Users should also contact the DfI Rivers Coleraine, who is responsible for regulating the flow rates on the river, for advisory information on the flow rates to be expected on any given day.

DfI Rivers Coleraine. Tel: 0044 28 7034 2357 Email: [email protected]

Lower Bann Navigation – Newferry – No wake zone

A No Wake Zone exists on the Lower Bann Navigation at Newferry. Masters of vessels are requested to proceed at a slow speed and create no wake while passing the jetties and slipways at Newferry.

Overhead Power Lines (OHPL) and Air draft

All Masters must be aware of the dangers associated with overhead power lines, in particular sailing vessels and workboats with cranes or large air drafts. Voyage planning is a necessity in order to identify the location of overhead lines crossing the navigation.

Overhead power line heights on the River Shannon are maintained at 12.6metres (40 feet) from Normal Summer level for that section of navigation, masters of vessels with a large air draft should proceed with caution and make additional allowances when water levels are high.

If a vessel or its equipment comes into contact with an OHPL the operator should NOT attempt to move the vessel or equipment. The conductor may still be alive or re-energise automatically. Maintain a safe distance and prevent third parties from approaching due to risk of arcing. Contact the emergency services for assistance.

Anglers are also reminded that a minimum ground distance of 30 metres should be maintained from overhead power lines when using a rod and line.

Submarine Cables and Pipes

Masters of vessels are reminded not to anchor their vessels in the vicinity of submarine cables or pipes in case they foul their anchor or damage the cables or pipes. Look to the river banks for signage indicating their presence.

Water Levels - Precautions

Low Water Levels:

When water levels fall below normal summer levels masters should be aware of:

Navigation

To reduce the risk of grounding masters should navigate on or near the centreline of the channel, avoid short cutting in dog-legged channels and navigating too close to navigation markers.

Proceeding at a slow speed will also reduce “squat” effect i.e. where the vessel tends to sit lower in the water as a consequence of higher speed.

Slipways

Reduced slipway length available under the water surface and the possibility of launching trailers dropping off the end of the concrete apron.

More slipway surface susceptible to weed growth requiring care while engaged in launching boats, from slipping and sliding on the slope. Note also that launching vehicles may not be able to get sufficient traction on the slipway once the craft is launched to get up the incline.

Bank Erosion

Very dry riverbanks are more susceptible to erosion from vessel wash.

Lock Share

Maximising on the number of vessels in a lock will ensure that the total volume of water moving downstream is decreased. Lock cycles should be used for vessels travelling each way.

High Water Levels:

When water levels rise above normal summer level masters should be aware of:

Navigation

Navigation marks will have reduced height above the water level or may disappear underwater altogether making the navigable channel difficult to discern.

In narrow sections of the navigations water levels will tend to rise more quickly than in main streams and air draft at bridges will likewise be reduced.

There will also be increased flow rates particularly in the vicinity of navigation infrastructure such as bridges, weirs, locks etc where extra care in manoeuvring vessels will be required.

Harbours and Jetties

Due care is required in harbours and at slipways when levels are at or near the same level as the harbour walkways' as the edge will be difficult to discern especially in reduced light conditions. It is advised that Personal Flotation Devices be worn if tending to craft in a harbour in these conditions.

Slipways

Slipways should only be used for the purpose of launching and recovering of water craft or other objects from the water. Before using a slipway it should be examined to ensure that the surface has sufficient traction/grip for the intended purpose such as launching a craft from a trailer using a vehicle, that there is sufficient depth of water on the slipway to float the craft off the trailer before the concrete apron ends and that the wheels of the trailer do not drop off the edge of the slipway. That life-saving appliances are available in the vicinity, that the vehicle is roadworthy and capable of coping with the weight of the trailer and boat on the incline. It is recommended that slipway operations are conducted by two persons.

Caution to be Used in Reliance upon Aids to Navigation

The aids to navigation depicted on the navigation guides comprise a system of fixed and floating aids to navigation. Prudent mariners will not rely solely on any single aid to navigation, particularly a floating aid to navigation. With respect to buoys, the buoy symbol is used to indicate the approximate position of the buoy body and the ground tackle which secures it to the lake or river bed. The approximate position is used because of the practical limitations in positioning and maintaining buoys in precise geographical locations. These limitations include, but are not limited to, prevailing atmospheric and lake/river conditions, the slope of and the material making up the lake/river bed, the fact that the buoys are moored to varying lengths of chain, and the fact that the buoy body and/or ground tackle positions are not under continuous surveillance. Due to the forces of nature, the position of the buoy body can be expected to shift inside and outside the charted symbol.

Buoys and perches are also moved out of position or pulled over by those mariners who use them to moor up to instead of anchoring. To this end, mariners should always monitor their passage by relating buoy/perch positions with the published navigation guide. Furthermore, a vessel attempting to pass close by always risks collision with a yawing buoy or with the obstruction that the buoy or beacon/perch marks.

Masters of Vessels are requested to use the most up to date Navigation guides when navigating on the Inland Waterways.

Information taken from Special Marine Notice No 1 of 2023