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Displaying items by tag: Loughs Agency

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
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Interested parties are now invited to apply for a licence to fish the 2022/2023 native oyster fishery on Lough Foyle.

Applicants will be required to submit a completed application via post, which must be received on or before Friday 29 July.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide proof of postage in the event of a late application delivery or a missing application.

At this stage the Loughs Agency asks that only completed application forms are sent. Please do not send additional documents or payment.

Loughs Agency offices are currently closed but application forms are available for download.

The licence fee is £150 or €166 and fees payable on receipt of licence.

No late applications will be accepted without proof of postage within the stated application timeframe.

Send applications to the following address:

Oyster Licence Applications
Loughs Agency
22 Victoria Road
Derry ~ Londonderry
BT47 2AB
Northern Ireland

Telephone opening hours 9am to 5pm Monday-Friday
Tel: +44 (0) 28 71 342100
Fax: +44 (0) 28 71 342720

Published in Fishing

This week the Loughs Agency welcomed Europe’s top marine scientists to the Northwest for the European Tracking Network’s (ETN) annual meeting, with delegates from across the continent attending the three-day event in Derry.

The conference, which is funded by the EU’s COST Action programme, took place in the City Hotel Derry from Tuesday 5 to Thursday 7 April, with attendees taking part in a range of informative workshops and activities.

The Loughs Agency is a member of ETN, an initiative devoted to furthering knowledge and management of aquatic species around Europe.

The network has six strategically placed large marine fish counters — known as ‘arrays’ — situated across the continent’s waters, with various member organisations involved in the long-term project.

During the conference delegates discussed a range of issues, including the current status of the project, new funding opportunities, key species for research and new projects in the pipeline.

Those in attendance have also embarked on site visits to Lough Foyle and rivers in the Foyle catchment. Over the course of these visits, they were able to observe the agency’s fish counters as well as estuary arrays which are deployed as part of SeaMonitor, the Loughs Agency-led project which has been described as “Europe’s largest fish counter”.

Graham Warke, the Mayor of Derry and Strabane was in attendance at the City Hotel Derry on Wednesday 6 April to meet delegates, and the party also had the opportunity to sample some of the region’s finest food and drink at the Walled City Brewery.

Sharon McMahon, acting chief executive of the Loughs Agency said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to welcome so many esteemed scientists, academics and environmentalists from across Europe to the Foyle catchment area in Ireland’s scenic Northwest.

“The agency is proud of the incredible work carried out by our science function on a daily basis, and as lead partner on the SeaMonitor project, we are fortunate to be right at the cutting edge of fish tracking technology.

“Through continuous collaboration with our European colleagues, this ETN annual meeting will enable us to increase our knowledge of aquatic species, which in turn will help us preserve marine life throughout Europe.”

ETN coordination Dr Jan Reubens explained that the network’s mission “is to track aquatic animals across Europe to better understand, protect and manage them. This meeting is an important milestone to boost our objectives by creating network opportunities, strengthening collaborations, sharing knowledge and advancing the science.”

Published in Marine Science

The Loughs Agency and Woodland Trust Northern Ireland have announced the launch of their new biodiversity project, TREES, within the Foyle and Carlingford catchment areas.

The primary aim of the TREES project is to protect and restore vital habitats for wildlife in rivers and trees.

It uses a nature-friendly solution of planting trees and creating a network of pond and dam systems which are specifically designed to manage flooding, potential pollution and nutrient run-off from farms which border vital river networks.

Ponds will be created on farmland, to hold an ample source of water which will provide a much-needed contingency, reducing the need for abstraction directly from the river. Ponds provide an additional benefit of retaining a water source on farms during periods of drought.

Areas of wet woodland are one of the most dynamic habitats and are important for a range of priority species, including salmon, otters, nesting birds, insects, bats and amphibians.

Biodiversity is a major focus for the project, with the planting of native trees sourced and grown in the UK and Ireland a priority to help ensure success.

So far, over 24 schemes are under way with the TREES project, which is on target to plant over 120,000 native broadleaf trees by the end of 2023.

Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon said: “We are delighted to be able to work with our esteemed colleagues at Woodland Trust NI on the TREES project, which will prove to be highly beneficial for the local farming community and the environment in the Foyle and Carlingford catchments.

“We are proud to be taking this proactive approach to address issues that could potentially lead to catastrophic consequences for the fisheries if left neglected.

“This partnership with landowners, farmers, and other like-minded organisations will hopefully lead to the protection of our rivers and ecosystems for years to come.”

With 8.7% tree cover in Northern Ireland and ancient woodland forming just 0.04% of that, the Woodland Trust works hard to create new woodland, and protect and restore our existing trees.

The Faughan Valley has the largest concentration of fragmented ancient woodland in Northern Ireland, and the Loughs Agency says it has been collaborating with the Woodland Trust to work with farmers whose land borders the River Faughan.

Ian McCurley, director for Woodland Trust Northern Ireland, said: “We are planting trees and woods to create resilient landscapes and a sustainable tree landscape for the future.

“The TREES project creates new woodland to protect and connect fragmented ancient woodland and to enhance havens for wildlife all resulting in a more resilient landscape for the future. We aim to support and advise landowners and the farming community.”

The new initiative will put the local farming community at its core, the Loughs Agency says, with involvement from the agricultural sector greatly encouraged to help deliver ecosystem services for the long-term benefit of rivers, habitats, environment and nearby farms.

Further information on the TREES project can be found at loughs-agency.org.

Published in Angling

As part of the Loughs Agency’s annual redd counting on the River Roe and its tributaries in Northern Ireland, underwater cameras were successfully deployed and have captured footage of salmon spawning activity.

Mark McCauley, freshwater fisheries biologist with the agency, said the footage shows some of the “varied and complex” lifecycle of the salmon.

“A female salmon begins to deposit her eggs in a redd as an adult male moves alongside to fertilise them. A female salmon produces approximately 1,100 eggs per kilogram of body weight,” he said, describing the footage.

“The male has a very distinctive hooked lower jaw called a kype. This is a characteristic displayed by adult males at spawning time. It is assumed to establish hierarchy among males, with those displaying larger kypes thought to be more dominant.

“The female then uses her tail to cover the fertilised eggs with gravel.

“The footage shows a parr moving over the area quickly afterwards, probably hoping to eat any eggs that are not covered before being driven off by the larger male.

“There are some instances of precocious parr, sometimes referred to as sneaker males. These are sexually mature salmon parr who will try to fertilise some of the eggs in an attempt to pass on some of their genes.

“This is all part of the varied and complex life-history strategies of Atlantic salmon.”

Spawning is a sensitive time of year for returning salmon and any disturbance can take them off the redd. Redds can also be damaged if stepped on. Therefore, the Loughs Agency advises against members of the public entering the river to view this activity.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Between 2012 and 2014, each spring the Loughs Agency — in partnership with Woodland Trust and with the agreement of local landowners — planted 10,000 mixed-species native trees along both banks of the River Roe in Northern Ireland.

This section of the Roe, in the upper Glenshane area of Co Derry, holds good populations of salmon and trout and a varied mixture of habitat for fish of all ages, the Loughs Agency says.

However, surveys highlighted that the riparian zones on both banks were devoid of tree cover, with only small numbers of coniferous pine trees present.

Riparian tree planting undertaken by the Loughs Agency sought to address several issues:

  • reduce runoff from the surrounding hills, thus reducing in-stream sedimentation and the threat to salmonid redds;
  • stabilise the riverbanks; and
  • slow the flow in the upland area, thus helping to reduce the potential of flooding downstream

Given current trends for prolonged dry spells in summer, the trees will provide valuable shade along the riverbank and a much-needed cooling effect during these times.

The maturing trees strengthening the banks of the River Roe in Co Derry | Credit: Loughs Agency

Fallen leaf litter will help increase populations of in-stream bug life for fish to prey upon. In addition, the trees provide a much-needed biodiversity corridor in this upland area.

Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon said: “In a climate of ever-increasing pressure upon the environment and natural resources, these schemes meet Loughs Agency's core responsibility of protecting and conserving freshwater fish stocks.

“They also help protect rivers, slow the flow, capture carbon. and provide an aesthetically pleasing biodiversity corridor adjacent to one of our most travelled routes.”

During planting, tree guards were put in place to protect young saplings from sheep, hares and deer. In this exposed environment, the guards also protect the trees from the elements.

Now that the trees are maturing, and the left-hand bank of the riparian zone has been fenced off since 2019, earlier this month the Loughs Agency completed the process of removing these plastic guards and over 3,000 were sent for recycling.

The works continue enhancements of the River Roe that have benefitted from an £80,000 investment since 2019, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Angling

The Loughs Agency has completed river enhancement works on several rivers in the Omagh area in Northern Ireland in partnership with local landowners, the Omagh Anglers Association and Strule Tributaries and Rivers Trust.

Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon said: “Since the major flood event in 2017, the agency has worked extensively to reduce silt in rivers, predominantly through working with farmers and landowners at a catchment level to protect riverbanks from excessive erosion.

“Siltation is less obvious than pollution events that are often reported, but it can significantly affect the sustainability of the fishery.

“This project demonstrates how partnership and using nature-based solutions can relieve some of the pressures on the fishery.”

One enhancement project was at a section of the Camowen River known as Bertie Anderson’s. The stretch had suffered bank slippage due to a combination of public and livestock access over the years. The subsidence resulted in silt entering the river and narrowing the channel.

Soft engineering works were completed by installing 60 metres of root wads to help stabilise the bank. The locally sourced wads will help to catch and reduce silt in the river and revegetate the bank.

Forty metres of vertical larch timber piles were also driven into the edge of the river along with horizontal poles to protect the base of the riverbank.

Salmon survival can be significantly affected by suspended solids entering the river due to bank erosion. This is due to salmon eggs becoming smothered by silt during the winter following soil erosion and run-off.

Downstream of this site, there is fantastic spawning habitat. However, bank erosion here has resulted in siltation which is impacting downstream spawning beds.

This soft engineering project will reduce erosion and act as a siltation trap, collecting suspended soils travelling down from upstream, the agency says.

Camowen River bank stability works before and after

Hard and soft engineering solutions were also used in other sites in the Foyle catchment. The Owenkillew, Quiggery, Glenelly, Cloughfin, Fintona, Altinagh, Routing, Granagh, Aghlisk and Glensawisk Rivers have also had habitat enhancement projects this year via local and stakeholder partnerships.

Terry Smithson of Omagh Anglers Association was delighted to work in tandem with other organisations to complete these works.

“We took the opportunity to work in conjunction with Loughs Agency and a local landowner on the Camowen project,” he said. “This work complements previous work undertaken by the club in the upper reaches of the Camowen on the spawning grounds and annual access works.

“It is great to see what can be achieved when we all work in a partnership to protect the holding pools, spawning beds and nursery streams."

Shane Colgan of the Strule Tributaries and Rivers Trust added: “We have been working with Loughs Agency in recent years on schemes to help create and reinstate habitat throughout the upper reaches of the Strule catchment.

“Works were carried out primarily to rehabilitate Atlantic salmon habitat but will benefit an array of riparian species, both flora and fauna. The schemes involved remedial bank revetment in helping alleviate the damage after several flooding incidents.”

For more information on the river enhancement projects, visit the Loughs Agency website HERE.

Published in Angling

The CatchmentCare project is nearing completion with the Elatagh instream habitat improvement works along a 3.4km stretch on the Elatagh River, Co. Donegal, and the benefits are already evident.

Sharon McMahon, Loughs Agency CEO said: "Loughs Agency is committed to working with partners, stakeholders and landowners in the Finn catchment to achieve the goals of the CatchmentCare project. These initial results indicate the immense and immediate benefits of the project and the advantages of using green engineering solutions to support biodiversity, particularly salmonids.”

The CatchmentCARE team has installed several habitat restoration measures along the Elatagh River. These measures include pinning of woody material, wetland installation, gravel regrading, installation of rubble mats, limestone deflectors and artificial pool creation. The instream works have transformed a section of the river that was narrow, fast-flowing, and in some places shallow into a stretch with a variety of flows and depths, increasing the microhabitat diversity.

Salmon redds in Elatagh RiverSalmon redds in Elatagh River

After conducting their annual redd count survey on the Elatagh River, Loughs Agency Fishery Officers reported on the benefits of the work for spawning salmonids. The survey recorded seven redds in an area that historically did not support any spawning. They also recorded that an area of the river that historically had a maximum of 12 redds now supports 30 redds.

These results are an early and positive indication that the works carried out by CatchmentCARE are having a positive effect on the areas targeted. Loughs Agency will continue to monitor and report the impacts of the implemented improvements through the annual freshwater fisheries monitoring programme.

Published in Angling

The Loughs Agency’s CatchmentCARE Team has been busy since the summer delivering and deploying passive samplers across the Finn catchment in the North West.

This passive sampler survey aims to detect the presence of herbicides and pesticides such as MCPA, Diazinon, Cypermethrin and Acetamiprid in the target areas.

The samplers have been placed strategically at five key locations in Co Donegal: a control site deployed in the Stranagoppoge; two sheep dip monitoring sites at the Reelan Bridge and Altnapaste; and forestry monitoring sites in the Upper Reelan and Cummirk which will monitor private and public forestry, respectively.

The sample survey aims to detect the presence of herbicides and pesticides such as those commonly uses as sheep dip | Credit: Loughs AgencyThe sample survey aims to detect the presence of herbicides and pesticides such as those commonly uses as sheep dip | Credit: Loughs Agency

Sites were chosen based on data collected by the CatchmentCARE Team on active dipping facilities and forestry locations in the Finn.

The samplers will be deployed for 12 months. The CatchmentCARE Team will visit the sites every two weeks to collect the samples, which will be sent to TE Laboratories for analysis.

The Loughs Agency says the team is hopeful the results from the passive sampler will highlight the extent to which herbicides and pesticides related to sheep dip and forestry activities are impacting the aquatic environment.

The CatchmentCARE samplers will be in place for 12 months | Credit: Loughs AgencyThe CatchmentCARE samplers will be in place for 12 months | Credit: Loughs Agency

The nature of the passive sampling equipment allows us to continuously monitor for the presence of these chemicals, which is not possible with traditional spot sampling of water and sediments.

The use of this type of equipment to monitor pesticides in Ireland is very novel, the agency adds, and expressions of interest in the results have been received by several environmental regulatory bodies on the island and academic researchers.

You can find out more about the CatchmentCARE project in its Autumn 2021 Newsletter.

Published in Environment

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
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