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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

Efforts are underway to refloat a newly built 150m oil tanker which ran aground close to the mouth of Lough Foyle earlier this morning. 

The 11,826 tonne Thun Liffey was leaving Lisahally terminal in Derry for Milford Haven when the incident occurred at about 9 am.

The ship grounded on the “Tuns” sandbank, running between the mouth of the Foyle and Magilligan Point.

No pollution and no injuries have been reported.

A screenshot from the Marine Traffic website showing Thun Liffey is agroundA screenshot from the Marine Traffic website showing the status of Thun Liffey as  'aground'

However, several tugs were dispatched to assist the vessel in refloating off the sandbank on the incoming tide.

It is expected the ship will be inspected for any damage before it is authorised to leave Derry.

The Thun Liffey was built this year (2020) and is sailing under the Netherlands flag. 

It had steamed frequently between Derry and Milford Haven this month, and had already discharged its cargo. It was due to arrive in Milford Haven tomorrow (Wed Dec 30) at 10 am.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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The Loughs Agency is reminding anglers in the Foyle and Carlingford areas to log and submit their angling effort, catches and releases for the 2020 season.

Rod licences for salmon and sea trout in Foyle and Carlingford come with a legal obligation to inform the Loughs Agency (via the eLicence web portal) of how many times the licence holder went fishing and got many fish they caught.

To date, the agency says less fewer than 10% of anglers have made their return for the 2020 season.

For the 2020 season, the Loughs Agency will be carrying out an in-depth study of catch returns and angling effort to determine fish runs in rivers, number of fish caught, weight of fish caught and/or released, and how much time anglers put into catching those fish.

As a result, anglers are encouraged to make their return and be as accurate as possible with locations, dates, weights, species, methods and time spent fishing.

The deadline for catch returns is Thursday 21 January 2021.

Published in Angling

Foyle Port Marina in the North West of Ireland is now open to visitors; however, the self-Isolating restrictions introduced on Monday 8th June by the Government will apply to vessels visiting from outside the UK and Ireland.

These can be found here

The Marina lies in the heart of the City of Derry and is 17 miles from the mouth of Lough Foyle. The passage through Lough Foyle has spectacular views of the Donegal hills on the north side and the cultivated flatlands south of Magilligan Point on the other. The marina is accessed via a well-marked navigation channel from the Atlantic leading right into the city. This is also used by large ships accessing and leaving the commercial port at Lisahally.

The marina consists of two pontoons, one a 200m long wooden structure and 140m concrete structure offering in excess of 600mtrs of secure deep water berthing. You can book a berth here

The Marina would have been the hub of next month’s Maritime Festival and Clipper Race stop-over but sadly they have fallen foul of COVID 19 as Afloat.ie reported on 27th March here.

Published in Irish Marinas
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As of yesterday (Tuesday 19 May), permits are available for Loughs Agency permit waters on the River Foyle, River Finn (approx six miles) and Greenbraes Fishery.

DAERA has also opened, with limitations, the Public Angling Estate in Northern Ireland — which in the Foyle and Carlingford areas includes Loughbrickland, Binevenagh, Moor Lough, Lough Ash, Lough Bradan, Lough Lee and a section of the River Roe.

The Loughs Agency adds that angling clubs and private fisheries will decide how and when to open their waters.

It is for each club and fishery owner to decide if they can comply with government advice with regard to social distancing and hand hygiene.

Anglers are reminded that they also have individual responsibility to comply with UK and Irish government advice regarding social distancing, hand hygiene and travel restrictions.

The agency’s fisheries protection staff have returned to full-time duties with immediate effect and will continue to work in partnership with the PSNI and An Garda Síochána with regard to fisheries offences.

Game and coarse anglers are also reminded that to fish in the waters of Foyle and Carlingford they require a licence from Loughs Agency and a permit from whomever holds the fishing rights.

Loughs Agency licences are available online. Anglers should contact the fishery/angling club directly regarding permits that are not provided by Loughs Agency.

Published in Angling

Anglers are being encouraged by the Loughs Agency to log and submit their efforts, catches and releases for the 2019 angling season in Foyle and Carlingford.

Whenever anyone buys a rod licence to fish for salmon and sea trout in Foyle and Carlingford, they are legally obliged to let the Loughs Agency know if they have caught fish and how many times they went fishing.

This information can now be easily recorded through the loughs angling elicence website. Simply log in with your Angler Number and update your angling log for the 2019 season.

John McCartney, Lough Agency director of conservation and protection, said: “This is really important information because it enables our scientists to understand how many fish are caught, taken or returned back to the river and how much time anglers put into catching those fish.

“It provides an indication of how well stocks are doing and if we need to take any action should catches take a turn for the worst.”

Freshwater fishery biologist Mark McCauley advised that the data is used “to screen proposed developments such as roads, hydro, etc that may impact the interests of the fishery. We can also use the data anglers provide to assess the strength of fish runs in the system this year and also for long term trend monitoring.”

As reported last week on Afloat.ie, salmon and sea trout anglers in the Republic of Ireland have been reminded to return their 2019 logbooks and unused gill tags as soon as possible, even if there is no catch recorded.

Published in Angling

Following on from yesterday's Dun Laoghaire announcement of its Sailability programme the River Foyle in Derry has launched its fun introductory session as 'a fantastic opportunity for people with disabilities' to ‘Try Sailing’ for the first time and learn the basics. Taking place on Saturday 14th May at Foyle Marina this ‘have a go’ event is being offered for free and with no prior experience or specialist equipment required there really is no excuse not to give it a try!

Foyle Sailability exists to bring the joy of sailing and boating to people with disabilities from across the North West region of Ireland, says chairperson Cathal MacElhatton. “Operating from the Foyle Marina, which has a hoist, we have a range of accessible dinghies for everyone to enjoy out on Lough Foyle. Our aim is to provide safe and enjoyable sailing opportunities to people with disabilities interested in experiencing the sport of sailing and other ‘on the water’ activities”.

“On arrival you will be kitted out with all the necessary equipment and given a safety briefing and introduction, then it will be time to get into your boats and get sailing! Our qualified instructors will be in the boat along with you to help throughout the session and provide any tips on improving your technique. “

The event runs from 10.30am to 3pm and is divided into short sessions, so early booking from [email protected] is advised, although it’s free, advises Cathal. Foyle Marina is located at Baronet Street.

Foyle Sailability is offering this taster event as part of a national campaign called ‘Flow – Get into Watersports’ which is co-funded by The Erasmus Plus programme of the European Union and is a partnership between SportNI and a range of water based National Governing Bodies with the aim of encouraging more people to participate in watersports. The campaign kicks off with a weekend of water based outdoor activity taster events all over Northern Ireland during the weekend of 14th and 15th May. These events will be closely followed by a series of follow up training programmes to encourage people to continue in their chosen activity. So even if you can’t attend the taster events you can still get involved by taking part in one of the follow up training programmes that are taking place.

During the weekend there will be a range of clubs based all over Northern Ireland offering taster events in canoeing, sailing, water skiing and wake boarding, rowing, angling, stand up paddle boarding and diving.

SportNI is one of the leading organisations behind the initiative and their Outdoor Recreation Development Officer, Mike McClure, believes it is a great way for people to get into a water sport and to eventually join a club by commenting “Flow is a wonderful way for people to experience the great natural water resources we have here in Northern Ireland and hopefully by taking part in this campaign it will help develop favourite past-times that participants will take part in for many years to come”.

Visit www.FlowNI.com to see a full list of taster events and follow up training programmes that are being offered as part of the campaign to get you flowing into your next adventure!

Published in News Update
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Primary schools across the Derry City and Strabane District Council area are being invited to take part in an exciting free education outreach programme that will allow them to explore their maritime heritage through an innovative and interactive programme entitled: “DuPont Float Your Boat.”

The education programme is being run by the Derry City and Strabane District Council in partnership with DuPont ahead of the forthcoming Foyle Maritime Festival that is taking place from 09-17 July when the Clipper Round the World Race yachts will make a welcome return to the city for a fun filled festival of fun and celebration.
The education programme will be delivered by Footsteps Interpretation and is being held alongside a competition encouraging students to design their own model boat and be in with a chance of their design being exhibited during the Maritime Festival in July.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Elisha McCallion says the education programme is a fantastic way of getting primary school children from across the city and district involved in the festival and encouraging them to explore and appreciate their local environment and their close proximity to maritime heritage.
“What I really like about this education programme is that it is all about fun and getting the children involved in a way that encourages them to take a real interest in the topics covered. It is very interactive and creative and encourages them to use their imagination and come up with creative ideas and concepts. I am delighted that we have DuPont on board as our main sponsor for the festival and look forward to working with them on the festival,” she said.
Paul Kirkpatrick, Organisation Manager, DuPont, said: “We’re so pleased to be working with the Derry City and Strabane District Council to deliver a fun, engaging and free education programme to primary school children from across Derry~Londonderry. As a company, we regularly reach out to schools, offering prizes for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) related tasks as well as creating our own competitions, so we are constantly engaging with young minds and hopefully inspiring them to take more of an interest in engineering.
“At DuPont we make Kevlar® which is extraordinarily strong, lightweight and on an equal-weight basis, five times stronger than steel. It is best known for its use in protective garments but it can also be found in ships’ hulls and we’ll all get a chance to see many of those when the Foyle Maritime Festival kicks off.”
Margaret Edwards, Education Officer with Derry City and Strabane District Council explained that the DuPont Float Your Boat scheme covers a number of areas to ensure the children get a good overview.
“Among the themes of the education project is Maritime Heritage, where the children will be encouraged to discover about the region’s maritime past, get the chance to meet with 18th century ship builder characters to hear stories of ship building, the port and navigation. Under the Environment Significance of the Region theme, the children will find out more about the environmental importance of Lough Foyle and its surrounding rivers and discover how some animals use internal navigation to travel great distances to return to their local environment. And as part of the Clipper Round the World Race theme they will hear at first-hand about life on board a Clipper yacht,” she said.
She added that the education programme meets a number of learning areas and skills for both the NI and RoI curriculum and features a learning pack for teachers.
The students are also being encouraged to participate in a competition to build their own model boat using recyclable materials. The top three designs will receive an individual prize and will be on display alongside six highly commended designs during the Foyle Maritime Festival in July.
Full details of the Foyle Maritime Festival are to be launched at the end of April.

Published in Maritime Festivals
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