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Displaying items by tag: Lough Neagh

Lough Neagh “isn’t just dying, it’s been killed” by a combination of human-made factors, one conservationist has declared as the crisis around toxic blooms of blue-green algae continues.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Friends of the Earth NI director James Orr says the situation “has literally blown people’s trust in the health of the lough out of the water”.

As previously reported on, the lough — which is the source of nearly half of Northern Ireland’s drinking water — is in crisis due at least in part to the affects of pollution from untreated wastewater and agricultural run-off, as anglers and other groups have claimed.

Similar blooms of cyanobacteria have been recorded across the region, such as on the Lower Bann — which has lost at least one long-standing watersport business to the “unsustainable” situation — and with the latest confirmed at Lough Ross in Crossmaglen.

The issue prompted protestors to hold a ‘wake’ for Lough Neagh last weekend, as others lamented the collapse of the lough’s renowned eel fishery and even the Catholic and Anglican archbishops of Armagh were moved to call for immediate government intervention to help reverse “an environmental disaster”.

In recent days the SDLP has made a renewed bid to recall the Stormont assembly to address the crisis — the lack of a functioning devolved government in Northern Ireland since February 2022 being cited as one of a combination of factors that’s led to the current state of affairs.

Peter Harper of the Lough Neagh Partnership tells The Irish Times that other salient factors include the impact of the invasive Zebra mussel as well as climate change, which has raised the temperature at the bottom of the lough by one degree, in turn contributing to wetter weather that feeds the cycle of pollution from farmland and an overwhelmed sewage system.

“The lough’s in crisis,” says Ciara Laverty of the Lough Neagh Partnership. “The ecology’s changing, unless we do something drastic about it now. Decades of neglect have led us to this point.”

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Two archbishops of Armagh have called for a joint task force to save Lough Neagh from “an environmental disaster”.

Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin and Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop John McDowell have issued a joint statement in which they state that they have “grave concerns” that the response to the algal bloom in the lake is “too slow and is tied up in multi-agency bureaucracy”.

“Whilst multiple stakeholders debate the remit of responsibility, Lough Neagh and those who live near and around it suffer. There is a clear need for decisive leadership. We must identify the causes of pollution and devise an action plan capable of arresting the decline,” they state.

“This impressive body of water – the largest freshwater lake in these islands – is facing a dire threat from toxic blue-green algae,” the two archbishops state.

“ Collectively, we are endangering a natural asset that provides water to hundreds of thousands of families across Northern Ireland, sustains diverse fish varieties, supports wildlife and offers employment opportunities to thousands of people across the area,” they say.

“Last week, representatives of our churches visited Lough Neagh and heard from some of those who live and work around it – people who love the lough and enjoy it for all its recreational facilities, and others who depend on the lough for their livelihoods and for fishing,” they say.

“In recent days, we have heard words of reassurance from those charged with protecting Lough Neagh. Still, the algae bloom persists and poses a real threat to livestock, pets and humans. It is indiscriminate in nature and a blight on the natural landscape and ecosystem,”they continue.

“We are facing an environmental disaster and, as church leaders, we worry that the issue is not being given the priority it deserves. Before Lough Neagh approaches the point of no return, a collective examination of the causes and development of a robust plan to save this unique and ancient ecosystem is needed,” they say.

“Each one of us is called to be a custodian and a steward of creation; we all share a collective responsibility to safeguard the beauty and wellbeing of our natural surroundings and must maintain and preserve the lough for future generations to enjoy. We cannot take it for granted,” they say.

“Lough Neagh ought to be the jewel in our tourism and recreational crown and not a danger to life, flora and fauna. We will not be forgiven for our inaction or inability to come up with workable solutions,”they say.

“Our appeal is that a task force comprised of experts and relevant agencies be formed immediately and instructed to submit a report outlining procedures and actions required to avert a disaster within a short timeframe,”they conclude.

Published in Inland Waterways
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Causeway Coast and Glens councillors have echoed growing concerns over the state of the aquatic environment following recent blooms of toxic blue-green algae, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

Alliance Councillor Peter McCully tabled a motion at last week’s Environmental Services Committee Meeting that emphasised the “detrimental impact these blooms have had on local businesses”.

As previously reported on, at least one long-standing business on the Lower Bann has announced its closure, claiming its future is “unsustainable” given the likelihood of dangerous cyanobacteria blooms happening “on a yearly basis”.

Cllr MuCully said the response from Northern Ireland’s Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to this summer’s incidents is “not sufficient” and his motion calls for DAERA to convene cross-party talks across all affected council areas to develop and action plan.

Lough Neagh has also been affected by toxic blue-green algae blooms in recent months, with angling groups claiming that the lough is “dying” due to the affects of pollution from untreated wastewater and agricultural run-off.

The lough’s eel fishermen have added their voices to the call for action, saying their industry has collapsed this season.

"Never have I seen so many eel fisherman resorting to scale fishing in order to make some form of income,” one co-op member told the Irish News, which has more on the story HERE.

Lough Neagh Rescue says interference with access to the water due to silting issues “will cost lives”, as BelfastLive reports.

The Northern Ireland community lifeboat group said two call-outs in recent days were delayed due to silt blockages at Maghery Canal between the lough and the River Blackwater.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” said Manus Lappin, a director of Lough Neagh Rescue who put the blame on lack of regular maintenance of the canal.

He added: “It’s a huge danger to us trying to provide the service that we provide.”

Currently the Maghery Canal is the only access to the Blackwater from Lough Neagh, as another at the Barmouth is currently impassable for boats.

“We wouldn’t have this problem if the Barmouth was clear and was maintained,” Lappin said. “The problem with all this is nobody is taking responsibility.”

BelfastLive has more on the story HERE.

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A popular destination for watersport on Northern Ireland’s North Coast has blamed governmental inaction over wastewater discharges for its decision to close after nearly three decades.

In a statement on social media, Rob Skelly of the Cranagh Activity Centre said recent blooms of toxic blue-green algae that have affected Lough Neagh and the Lower Bann are travelling out to sea through the river system, past its location.

“With this likely to happen on a yearly basis we feel that our business has become unsustainable and that we have no option but to close,” Skelly added.

He also echoed recent comments from concerned angling groups in saying that “we are seeing the collapse of the ecology of the Lough Neagh and Lower Bann system”.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Lough Neagh is “dying” due to the affects of pollution from untreated wastewater and agricultural run-off, angling groups have claimed.

BBC News reports on the concerns which follow recent toxic algal blooms on the lough — which has an important commercial eel fishery — and other waterways in Northern Ireland, including Lower Lough Erne.

As previously reported on, three NI councils issued warnings earlier this summer following the deaths of multiple pet dogs after coming into contact with waters that had confirmed blooms of toxic blue-green algae.

But the situation goes back to at least February, where a fish kill close to Lough Neagh near Crumlin in Co Antrim is feared to have wiped out a whole year’s worth of spawning salmon and trout.

Angling club secretary Nick Hagan suggests that no one is taking responsibility for pollution of rivers that flow into the lough via untreated wastewater or alleged run-off from farms.

“The amount of slurry and raw sewage being pumped into Lough Neagh, it’s just accumulating a huge amount of nutrients,” he says. “From what I can see, the lough's dying.”

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Three councils in Northern Ireland have issues warnings over the presence of toxic blue-green algae in their local waterways, as BelfastLive reports.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is warning people away from the water at Lough Melvin after an alarming six dogs died following visits to the area in recent days.

Another dog died after contact with the shore of Lough Neagh, where Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council confirmed the presence of the algae.

And Mid Ulster District Council has also identified blue-green algae in the waters of Ballyronan Marina and Battery Harbour.

The bacteria that comprise blue-green algae produce toxins that are harmful to humans and even more so to animals when ingested, inhaled or they make contact with the skin.

BelfastLive has more on the story HERE.

Local authorities are investigating after two dogs died following contact with the water at Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland, as BelfastLive reports.

In the separate incidents on Thursday (5 May), a five-month old golden retriever and a 15-month-old cocker spaniel suffered seizures and died within an hour of taking ill after walks by the shore at Rea’s Wood, close to Antrim town.

Following appeals by their devastated owners, a spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said they are working with them as well as “local vets and our colleagues in DAERA to best establish the full circumstances”.

BelfastLive has more on the story HERE.

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Lough Neagh Sailing Club at Kinnego Marina, Northern Ireland hosted the first 2022 event for the Flying Fifteen class which was designed to support personal development of crews through practise starts followed by a series of races.

Participants were welcomed from Strangford clubs, Belfast Lough and Dublin and Dun Laoghaire. The event took place on Saturday 9 April 2022.

With most crews at Kinnego by 1100 hours boats were set up and tea and scones were consumed while the race organisers monitored the wind and set a beautiful course with a wind axis of 300 degrees and a nice gentle breeze of 4.2knots gusting 7knots. All was well with the world as the crews briefed at 1200 hours.

Upon arrival at the race area however, the beautiful course was found in disarray. The wind which had been at 300 degrees had veered by a full 90 degrees to 060. Mark layers began the process of moving everything from West to East.

By 1317 hours all was in order and the practice starts commenced with crews jostling for starting positions while timing their arrival at the line to coincide with the removal of the starting flag. Crews completed 3 starts with only a little bit of misbehaviour which necessitated the preparatory flag being switched from Papa to black to keep the unruly bunch of sailors in line.

The plan was to run 6 practice starts before the racing began, but the wind had different ideas. It would appear that Brexit or COVID or fuel prices meant that while the order for sun had been delivered in abundance the order for wind was still stuck at a port somewhere, or maybe someone didn’t put enough money in the meter. Either way, after the third practice start the wind dropped to 0 knots gusting 0 knots from a direction of nowhere. And so it began…the Flying Fifteen drifting event in basking April sunshine on the millpond of Lough Neagh.

The patience and the resilience of the sailors was eventually rewarded about 45 minutes later when the wind filled in to the grand sum of 1.7 knots gusting 2.1 and a short course was hastily set with a constantly shifting wind axis causing havoc for mark layers. After 2 laps the course was reset again and a second starting sequence was hastily commenced. Crews headed out for a second race and again completed 2 laps before another wind shift necessitated another course lay to be arranged. The money in the meter clearly ran out again and the guy with his wind machine in Antrim obviously heard the Grand National was on so packed up and headed home. The wind on the course fell again to 0 knots and it was time to call it a day and drift or grab a tow back down Kinnego bay to the slipway and the awaiting BBQ in the club house.

Thanks to all the participants and to the crews afloat and the crews ashore, those who organised and served food and provided so warm a welcome and hospitality for all.

Lough Neagh Commodore (left) presents the prize to David MulvinLough Neagh Commodore (left) presents the prize to David Mulvin

The event was won by the crew of “Ignis Caput” David Mulvin & Ronan Beirne NYC who donated their winning voucher from Sands Marine Chandlery and Boat Supplies to The Lough Neagh Rescue at Kinnego.

Results were as follows

Race 1 – 030 degrees 1.7 knots – 2.2 knots
Boat Name Time Place
Stiflers Mom Sail No 3892 12.35 1
Ignis Caput Sail No 4068 13.46 2
Simply Gold Sail No 4074 14.12 3
Taking it easy Sail No 3963 14.34 4
Phoenix Sail No 4083 15.36 5
Freyja Sail No 3454 17.04 6
Freya Sail No 2290 18.33 7

Race 2 – 000 degrees 2.1 knots – 2.3 knots
Boat Name Time Place
Taking it easy Sail No 3963 12.43 1
Ignis Caput Sail No 4068 12.49 2
Phoenix Sail No 4083 13.16 3
Simply Gold Sail No 4074 13.30 4
Stiflers Mom Sail No 3892 14.17 5
Freya Sail No 2290 16.28 6
Freyja Sail No 3454 17.37 7

Boat Name Points Place
Ignis Caput Sail No 4068 4 1
Taking it easy Sail No 3963 5 2
Stiflers Mom Sail No 3892 6 3
Simply Gold Sail No 4074 7 4
Phoenix Sail No 4083 8 5
Freya Sail No 2290 &
Freyja Sail No 3454 13 6

Published in Flying Fifteen

Fishing crews and sand barges on Lough Neagh were stranded for a number of days recently after faulty sensors caused water levels to drop below the statutory minimum, as BelfastLive reports.

Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure blamed a software update “glitch” for two of the lough’s four measuring stations giving false readings that prompted the sluice gates at Toome to open in the last week of January.

As a result, fishermen in the region lost a week of work as levels fell to 100mm below the minimum, a situation described as “unprecedented”.

“Some of them couldn’t get out to fish and some, when they had been out, had a load on their boats and couldn’t get back into the quay,” said Patsy McGlone, SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster.

Meanwhile, the local fishermen’s cooperative claims the issue was exacerbated by problems getting quays dredged over the last number of years.

BelfastLive has more on the story HERE.

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