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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

A public consultation on the Loughs Agency’s angling and fisheries improvement strategy and action plans for Foyle and Carlingford has been launched.

The consultation, which will run for a period of eight weeks, will provide members of the public with the opportunity to share their thoughts on the agency’s plans for improving angling and fisheries products in these catchment areas.

Three informative, data-led documents have been drafted by the Loughs Agency, which aim to provide a baseline for how best to implement changes that will have a real and lasting impact on angling and fisheries in the coming years.

These documents are the Fisheries and Angling Improvement Strategy for Foyle and Carlingford 2022-2030; Angling Action Plan for Foyle and Carlingford 2022-2030; and Fisheries Improvement Action Plan for Foyle and Carlingford 2022-2030.

A stakeholder consultation process was held in late 2022, which provided angling clubs and members of the angling community with an early chance to have their say. This feedback has since been incorporated into the latest drafts.

Loughs Agency will be holding a series of information sessions throughout the catchment areas in April. Agency staff will be present at these to answer questions on the documents, while also assisting with the feedback process. The sessions will take place as follows:

  • Loughs Agency HQ, Prehen, Monday 17 April from 6pm-9pm
  • Mellon Country Inn, Omagh, Tuesday 18 April from 6pm-9pm
  • Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey, Monday 24 April from 6pm-9pm
  • Canal Court Hotel, Newry, Tuesday 25 April from 6pm-9pm

Alternatively, those interested in having their say on these strategy documents can do so in their own time by completing the survey which can be found on Loughs Agency’s website.

Sharon McMahon, Loughs Agency chief executive said: “This public consultation will allow us to ensure all views are taken into consideration as we aim to deliver an outcome-orientated approach to fisheries and angling improvement.

“The feedback obtained from this process will help in the development of a clear strategic pathway, ensuring that these resources are improved for all.

“I would like to thank the agency staff who have contributed to developing these documents with a focus on knowledge, stewardship and sustainability. This work will help in the delivery of meaningful changes to fisheries and angling in Foyle and Carlingford.”

The draft documents as well as a link to the survey can also be found on the Consultations section of the Loughs Agency website.

Published in Loughs Agency

The Loughs Agency has issued a declaration suspending netting in the River Foyle, Lough Foyle and seaward of Lough Foyle and restricting angling in the River Finn to catch-and-release only.

The restrictions have been put in place to protect the Atlantic salmon, the agence says.

It explains that the number of salmon which have migrated upstream of the River Finn fish counter during each of the previous five years has not exceeded 5,410 as stipulated in the Foyle Area (Control of Fishing) Regulations, 2010.

A copy of the full declaration can be viewed in Irish and English.

Published in Angling

Loughs Agency’s 'Water Warriors' events took place this week in the Foyle and Carlingford catchment areas.

The events, which form part of the Agency’s Foyle & Carlingford Ambassador Programmes, attracted hundreds of post-primary pupils to partake in a 'fully immersive' educational experience, emphasising learning about the importance of conserving and protecting our natural environments and aquatic life.

Angela Dobbins, Deputy Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, also visited the Foyle event.

Approximately 600 attended the Foyle event on 22nd November at the Millennium Forum, Derry, with pupils attending from the following schools:

  • Foyle College, Derry
  • St Joseph’s Boys’ School, Derry
  • Thornhill College, Derry
  • Oakgrove Integrated College, Derry
  • St Columb’s College, Derry
  • Gaelcholáiste Doire
  • St Cecilia’s College, Derry
  • Ardnashee School, Derry
  • Strabane Academy
  • Knockavoe School, Strabane
  • Omagh Academy
  • Drumragh Integrated College, Omagh
  • Carndonagh Community School
  • Limavady High School
  • Dean Maguirc College, Carrickmore
Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

The Loughs Agency has confirmed the detection of a “limited number” of escaped rainbow trout from an aquaculture facility in the Foyle area.

Investigations are being conducted by inland fisheries officials from Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Anglers in the area who catch rainbow trout are advised not to release them back into the river and, if possible, to retain samples for Loughs Agency fishery officers who will collect them on request at +44 (0) 28 71 342100.

Published in Angling
Tagged under

You can always be sure Derry will put on a good show, whether it be a Jazz Festival, Halloween or a Light Show. And this year will be no exception when the City hosts the Clipper Race stopover in July during the Maritime Festival.

The news about the official return of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race recently announced by Derry City and Strabane District Council was greeted with excitement and optimism when the dates for the Foyle Maritime Festival were confirmed as July 20-24. This will be the fifth consecutive time that the City of Derry has acted as a host port and the crews will once again enjoy a fabulous welcome to the Foyle

The race resumed on Sunday 20th March from Subic Bay in the Philippines after a two-year delay due to the pandemic. Race crew from 21 different countries are currently taking part in the first point-scoring race, which will take the fleet across the North Pacific Ocean.

Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Alderman Graham Warke said he was delighted at the news, and the much-anticipated return of the sailing fleet to the Foyle, where they will take centre stage at the Maritime Festival. "This is fantastic news; we are thrilled to be able to confirm that the Clipper Race Crew will be arriving in the City on time to join us for the Foyle Maritime Festival. There will be so much excitement as the first yachts appear on the Foyle. It will mark a real milestone in the journey of the crew but also very significantly in terms of the slow journey towards recovery that we have all been on”.

Foyle Maritime FestivalFoyle Maritime Festival

The festival draws hundreds of visitors including many who come by boat to the city centre marina where crews enjoy being in the midst of the festivities.

Highlights of this year's event include the Legenderry Street Food Festival, live music events, on-street animation, marine-themed installations, and much more still to be confirmed as the final touches are put to the programme.

Head of Culture with Council, Aeidin McCarter, said that excitement was already building ahead of the event. "There's a great sense of anticipation about the Foyle Maritime Festival, it's the flagship summer event for the City and District, and one that always generates an incredible buzz of excitement many months before the first sails are sighted on the Foyle”. She continued, “We are delighted that the Clipper Race fleet will once again be central to our festivities, with all the colour and comradery that the crew bring to the Quayside”.

Mark Light, Clipper Race Director is no stranger to the Foyle. He skippered the inaugural Derry-Londonderry team in the 2011-12 edition, the race start of which is still one of his favourite memories. He said “ This has been the longest Clipper Race edition in our history and so we are looking forward to returning to this wonderful city more than ever. As a Skipper who has previously had the honour of representing Derry-Londonderry I have experienced first-hand the exceptional welcome our teams always receive from locals. And for our fleet to be the centre point of the Foyle Maritime Festival is a real honour. We can't wait to be back!"

The fleet is expected to arrive in Derry around 16th July after the 3000nm Race 14 from New York to the Foyle which is estimated to take approximately 15 -19 days.

Chairman of Clipper Events, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “This will have been the longest edition in our 25-year history. We appreciate it has been a long wait for our crew competing in the outstanding stages of this circumnavigation, but we can’t wait to get our teams racing again and continuing the Clipper 2019-20 Race.”

City of Derry doesn’t have a boat in this race but nevertheless has a considerable international following for the event built up over the years. This year the theme is 'What Lies Beneath' focusing on the natural beauty of our oceans, rivers and lakes, and the onus on all of us to protect and preserve marine life.

Published in Clipper Race

The Loughs Agency reminds anglers of the annual close season, which prohibits angling over the winter months to help protect salmon and sea trout from disturbance when spawning.

The Foyle Area and Carlingford Area (Close Seasons for Angling) Regulations prohibit fishing for salmon and sea trout over the winter, with fishing due to resume in early 2022.

The annual close season for salmon and sea trout began last Thursday 21 October in the Foyle catchment, and starts Monday 1 November in the Carlingford catchment.

As closing dates vary slightly across the catchments, Loughs Agency encourages anglers to check season dates for each river on the Loughs Agency website and social media platforms, as well as with fishery owners to ensure they are up to date on local restrictions.

The State of the Salmon report published recently by the international lead on salmon management, the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), highlights the worrying and continuous decline in the populations of the Atlantic salmon.

NASCO states: “It now takes about double the number of eggs to produce one adult (compared to 1990s) that will return to that same river to spawn – an indication of the multiple pressures facing the species throughout its complex life cycle.”

Lough Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon said: “The annual close season is an important time of year. Reducing disturbances on fish when they are spawning and at their most vulnerable helps protect stocks for the future.

“We recognise that angling is not the sole cause of stock decline, but by observing the close season, anglers are ‘playing their part’ in boosting the long-term resilience and sustainability of iconic fish species.”

John McCartney, director of conservation and protection at the Loughs Agency, added: “We all must take a forward-thinking approach based on the latest scientific guidance that balances responsible angling and sustainability.”

As the game fishing season ends for 2021, anglers are reminded to update their catch return and fishing effort on the Loughs Agency elicence website.

Anglers who wish to fish during the winter months are permitted to catch coarse fish such as perch, roach and bream, for which a valid coarse fishing licence is required.

During the close season, Loughs Agency fishery officers patrol riverbanks to prevent illegal fishing and protect fisheries. Anglers found fishing out of season will be prosecuted through the courts.

The Loughs Agency encourages members of the public to make direct and prompt illegal fishing reports either through the 24-hour response line at +44 28 7134 2100 or through the WaterWatch reporting tool.

Published in Angling

Over £80,000 has been invested in habitat enhancement projects in the River Roe catchment area in Co Derry during the past two years, the Loughs Agency says.

More than 20 sites within the Roe catchment were prioritised by the agency as a result of an assessment process conducted with habitat surveys and local angling club engagement.

Investment since 2019 included installing 6,500m of riparian fencing along the Bovevagh, Castle, Lynn, Owenbeg and Woodburn rivers and adjacent to the main River Roe itself.

Native trees planted previously to increase tree cover in the Roe’s upper reaches have been pruned to encourage growth, and around 4,000 tree guards were removed.

Instream works were also completed in the headwaters to ensure suitable spawning habitat for salmonids.

This is regarded as an area of special scientific interest (ASSI) because of the river’s physical features and its associated riverine flora and fauna. It is noted in particular for the population of Atlantic salmon, which is of international importance.

Riparian fencing, tree planting and associated works will improve water quality with increased bank stability and reduced erosion risk, the Loughs Agency says.

‘At a time when our rivers generally are under threat, this work will hopefully prove its worth in the years ahead and help sustain this valuable resource’

Biodiversity support, protection of invertebrates and indigenous fish populations in the River Roe and its tributaries are all key features of ongoing river restoration in the catchment area, it adds.

Roly Wysner, fishery inspector at the Loughs Agency, said: “The positive engagement between Loughs Agency and landowners cannot be understated.

“We worked with landowners who were very willing to participate and understood the rationale for the installations. They appreciated how it would feed into achieving sustainable management of both the riparian and aquatic habitats.”

Local club Roe Angling Ltd also welcomed the projects. A spokesperson said: “At a time when our rivers generally are under threat from a number of sources, this work by Loughs Agency will hopefully prove its worth in the years ahead and help sustain this valuable resource.

“The success of this programme is also indicative of the positive relationship that exists between Loughs Agency and landowners.”

The Loughs Agency’s Habitat Improvement Strategy outlines works associated with conserving, protecting, and improving the abundance and distribution of wild salmon and trout in Foyle and Carlingford’s freshwater catchments.

For more information on Loughs Agency’s habitat enhancement work or to read the full case study for the Roe catchment, visit the habitat section of the Loughs Agency website.

Published in Angling

While some anglers enjoyed success on the rivers within Foyle and Carlingford in 2020, the Loughs Agency says it continues to take a precautionary approach in line with national and international trends.

The State of the Salmon Report published by the international lead on salmon management, the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), highlights the worrying and continuous decline in the populations of the Atlantic salmon.

NASCO states: “It now takes about double the amount of eggs to produce one adult (compared to 1990s) that will return to that same river to spawn — an indication of the multiple pressures facing the species throughout its complex life cycle.”

This decline continues to be reflected locally, the Loughs Agency warns, with rivers such as the Finn in Co Donegal failing to reach their conservation targets in 2020 and therefore will continue to operate on a catch and release basis for the 2021 season.

Now the agency is calling on anglers to take steps to ensure sustainability of the fisheries of Foyle and Carlingford. Anglers are encouraged to:

  • Update their catch return and fishing effort regularly throughout the season on the eLicence website. This data is used to help Loughs Agency manage the fishery using real-time data.

  • Keep the Loughs Agency’s 24hr Response Line telephone number +(0) 44 2871 342100 as a contact on their phone and report any concerns directly and promptly. The Loughs Agency relies on reports of illegal fishing and pollution from the public.
  • Practice catch and release. Many anglers already do this, with around 45% of anglers not taking carcass tags when they purchase their licence.

  • Implement biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of invasive species.

  • For the 2021 season, the Loughs Agency is issuing a maximum of one blue tag for the period 1 March to 31 May and/or a maximum two black tags for the period 1 June to 31 October, depending on the type of licence purchased. Tackle shops have been instructed not to issue more than these maximum quantities for the 2021 season.

The rivers Film and Foyle opened this past Monday 1 March, signalling the start of the salmon, sea trout and wild brown trout angling season. However, game, coarse and sea angling is already available in both catchments.

For still water game anglers, Binevenagh Lake opened on 1 February. The lake lies on a basalt plateau that towers over Lough Foyle and its flanking lowlands below with the famed hills of Donegal beyond.

The 3.2 hectare lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout by DAERA Inland Fisheries and successful flies include Bibio and Buzzer patterns.

Fly fishing, spinning and worm fishing are permitted and the fishery has a daily bag limit of four trout per rod. A Loughs Agency game rod licence and a DAERA game angling permit are required to fish this water.

Some private fisheries are also operating and offer fishing for rainbow trout including Ballyheather, Altmore, Birchwood, Cashel, Termon, Oaks, Glenowen, and Duncrun Fishery in the Foyle area. In the Carlingford area, Donaghaguy Reservoir is open for trout fishing. A Loughs Agency game licence and a permit from the relevant fishery are required to fish these waters.

Coarse angling on the Newry Canal (Photo: Loughs Agency)Coarse angling on the Newry Canal | Photo: Loughs Agency

Coarse angling is permitted all year round, but the climate impacts on which species can be targeted. While tench, bream and rudd are active in warmer weather, roach and perch feed in all seasons and make good year round fishing for the coarse angler.

In the Foyle area, coarse fishing is currently available at Aghlisk Lough, Baronscourt Lakes, Enagh Lough, Longvale and Lough Muck near Omagh. In Carlingford, anglers can also fish for roach and perch at Bessbrook, Camlough, Derryleckagh, Drumlough, Greenan Lough, Mill Dam, Milltown Lough and in Newry Canal. A Loughs Agency coarse licence and permission from the relevant fishery owner is required to fish these lakes. In some cases a day ticket must be purchased.

The marine waters in Foyle and Carlingford offer fantastic sea angling with stunning landscapes and seascape backdrops. Flounder, bass, dogfish, dab, rockling, conger, pollock and ray are likely catches for the shore angler.

The Foyle area has over 90 miles of coastline of inlets, beaches, estuaries and rocky shores from which to cast from, while Carlingford offers almost 30 miles of coastline opportunities to fish. No licence is required for sea angling, but if fishing for salmon or sea trout a Loughs Agency game licence is required for the season.

Anglers are reminded to comply with the latest government advice and restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19. For further information on season dates, licence and permit requirements in the Foyle and Carlingford areas, visit the Loughs Agency website’s angling section HERE.

Published in Angling

The Loughs Agency has launched a new campaign appealing for angling enthusiasts to embrace the practice of catch and release to help sustain fish stocks in the Foyle and Carlingford areas.

The agency says it welcomes the growing trend of catch and release angling as a way of continuing to fish while limiting the impact on local stocks.

And it has produced a video guide to help anglers with their catch and release technique in order to increase the survival rate of salmon after release.

John McCartney, the agency’s director of conservation and protection, also explains the carcass tagging scheme which applies to salmon, brown trout and sea trout retained by recreational anglers, and highlighted the importance of returning any unused tags.

The Loughs Agency is aiming for a catch and release rate of over 80% for salmon and sea trout caught during the new season which is now partially underway.

It also wants to further reduce the number of anglers opting to take tags when purchasing a licence. 

‘The agency welcomes this approach to angling and would encourage all anglers to practice this method’

 McCartney says: “Last year, 45% of anglers purchasing a licence opted not to take tags and there is a growing trend of anglers implementing the practice of catch and release.

“The agency welcomes this approach to angling and would encourage all anglers to practice this method as a way of continuing to fish, whilst limiting the impact on local stocks.

“Numbered tags are allocated to anglers who request them when they purchase their licence. The angler then records their retained catch and the corresponding carcass tag number when updating their catch return during the fishing season, returning any unused tags to Loughs Agency when their licence expires.

“The catch return data from anglers is analysed throughout the season and used to make fishery management decisions to ensure the sustainability of species in Foyle and Carlingford.”

For the 2021 season, the Loughs Agency is issuing a maximum of one blue tag for the period from 1 March to 31 May and/or a maximum of two black tags for the period from 1 June to 31 October, depending on the type of licence purchased. Tackle shops have been instructed not to issue more than these maximum quantities for the 2021 season.

The above video guide to good practice for anglers with their catch and release technique includes the following pointers:

  • Landing the fish quickly to avoid exhausting the fish.
  • Use a soft knotless mesh net and keep the fish in the water at all times.
  • If you must handle the fish, use wet hands and cradle it below the belly. Never put your fingers inside the gill covers or lift the fish by the tail.
  • Use a single barbless hook to limit injury during removal. Remove the hook immediately, keeping the fish in the water.
  • If the hook is caught deep in the fish, cut the line and release with hook still inside rather than trying to remove deep-caught hook.
  • When releasing the fish, support it in the water using two hands, with the head pointing upstream to aid breathing.

 The season has already started on some still-water fisheries, with fishing on the rivers beginning to open up from Monday 1 March.

For further information on season dates, licence and permit requirements in the Foyle and Carlingford areas, visit the angling section of the Loughs Agency website.

Published in Angling
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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