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Displaying items by tag: Loughs Agency

In recent weeks the Loughs Agency has been working with groups of volunteers to clean up the banks of the River Foyle in Northern Ireland.

The Foyle Ambassadors, a group of young environmentalists, completed a clean-up on the upstream bank of the River Foyle near the Strabane Canal with the help of TV presenter Joe Mahon and his crew who were filming in the area. Between them they removed over a dozen bags worth of rubbish.

Elsewhere, a team of Ulster Bank branch managers completed litter pick on the banks of the River Foyle close to the mouth of the old Strabane Canal.

Local director Chris McGuinness said: “Even though the amount of plastic waste was shocking, this was an enjoyable and very worthwhile activity for our team. We would definitely be interested in doing of this sort of environmental activity in the future.”

Finally, a group of volunteers from technology firm Seagate took part in a bank clean-up downstream of the Strabane Canal, removing close to 30 bags of rubbish. The volunteers said they could not believe how much plastic waste had accumulated in such a beautiful location.

The agency’s community engagement officer Allan Bogle said: “This is the most rubbish I have seen collected during a volunteer litter pick. It is a great feeling to return this natural area to the way it is supposed to look.”

Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon added: “Rivers are an important habitat for fish and wildlife. Sadly, pollution, including litter and plastic gather in and along the rivers, often in remote places.

“River clean-ups are a great way to improve our rivers and make them a more enjoyable place to visit. As part of our community engagement programmes we are pleased to facilitate opportunities which enable the local community to take an active part in improving their environment.”

For more information on volunteer opportunities with the Loughs Agency, contact Allan Bogle at [email protected]

Published in Inland Waterways
Tagged under

The Loughs Agency has announced a photography competition to celebrate the Foyle and Carlingford catchments and International Year of the Salmon.

Prizes of vouchers for an online camera shop are up for grabs — in categories for under and over 18s — for photographs that should depict one of the following themes:

  • The Atlantic Salmon in celebration of International Year of the Salmon.
  • Landscapes and seascapes that have as their subject the river or marine environments within Foyle and Carlingford catchments.
  • Wildlife of Foyle and Carlingford that have the river or marine environment as their natural habitat.

The deadline for entries is noon on Friday 31 January. Full details of the categories, prizes and rules are available HERE.

Tagged under

Two juvenile seals named Ariel and Merida after the Disney princesses are part of a novel marine research project using the latest technology to record and understand harbour seals’ behaviour.

In a first for Northern Ireland, the Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry, Co Down has teamed up with University College Cork as part of the EU-funded, Loughs Agency-led SeaMonitor project to tag the female rehabilitated seals prior to their release from Knockinelder Beach in Co Down yesterday (Sunday 17 November).

Although seal pups have been rehabilitated and released by Exploris since 1989, this is the first time they have been tracked following release to give scientists a better understanding of how they fair post-release.

‘Although seal pups have been rehabilitated by Exploris since 1989, this is the first time they have been tracked following release’

Dr Mark Jessop, lead scientist from UCC, said: “We use state-of-the-art tags glued to the seals’ fur which drop off naturally during the seal’s annual moult, but until then provide information on where the seals are going as well as their dive behaviour.

“This gives us unique insights into post-rehabilitation survival and how juvenile seals learn to forage successfully in the wild.”

It is hoped that the data will be used to inform better management and protection for harbour seals.

The release of the two seals marks the first this season from Exploris Aquarium, NI’s only seal rehabilitation facility — with more releases to come.

“On average we take in about two dozen seals every year,” said Exploris curator, Peter Williams. “Seals are a protected species here in the UK and Europe so at Exploris we take in seal pups from all over the Northern Irish coast that have succumb to illness or have been affected by human interference and as a result abandoned by their mothers.”

Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon added: “This is an especially exciting time as the seals are the first species to be monitored since the project launched earlier this year.

“The agency is proud to be leading the way alongside expert colleagues from statutory and academic institutions and a range of stakeholders that will ultimately produce dynamic management plans for some of our most important and vulnerable species.”

‘These achievements ensure the safeguarding of our shared marine environment’

Discussing the importance of this work, Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “I’m delighted to hear about the progress of this pioneering EU INTERREG cross-border project, which has seen a tremendous amount of development in such a short space of time.

“These achievements ensure the safeguarding of our shared marine environment and continue the necessary conservation work to protect priority species and habitats just like Ariel and Merida.

“The significant progress so far can be attributed to the strong cross-border partnership, combined with innovative marine technology. The expertise and determination of SeaMonitor’s project partners is helping push the boundaries of marine research in the seas not only around Northern Ireland, but in Ireland and Western Scotland.”

The work is part of SeaMonitor — a unique marine research project, the first of its kind in Europe, studying the seas around Ireland, Western Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The project is led by the Loughs Agency and supported by another eight leading marine research institutions, using innovative marine species tracking technology to better understand and protect vulnerable marine life in our oceans.

Published in Marine Science

The Loughs Agency has organised two morning seminars around the theme of maritime heritage in the Foyle and Carlingford areas later this month.

The first will take place at Greencastle Golf Club next Friday 22 November from 9.30am to 12.30pm, while Carlingford Marina will host its seminar the following Friday 29 November at the same times.

Both events will include contributions from Patrick Fitzgerald, a professional historian with a long career in researching genealogy and uncovering the story of migration through the centuries, who will take attendees on a journey of migration through the Foyle and Carlingford loughs.

The Greencastle seminar will also hear from Gerald Crawford, former secretary of the Foyle Fisheries Commission, who will tell the story of commercial salmon fishing across two decades Fishing for Salmon in the Foyle.

Retired mariner Seamus Bovaird will be presenting on paddle steamers on Lough Foyle, while Edward Montgomery, secretary of The Honourable The Irish Society, will speak about the society and the Foyle fisheries, and Wes Forsythe, a career archaeologist with an interest in the Foyle area, will presenting on ;Salt and the Sea;.

In Carlingford, Brendan McSherry, Louth County Council’s heritage officer with a passionate awareness of Carlingford Lough, its shores, hinterland and communities, will present on Carlingford Lough, a barrier or a highway?

Kirstin Lemon, geologist by profession with a broader intent to inform communities about their geology and the influence on their culture, will speak about ‘Mountains, Myths and Maritime: a UNESCO Global Geopark in Mourne Gullion Strangford’.

Finally, Liam Campbell, a researcher with an intense interest in exploring the development of cultures within distinct catchments, will present on the ‘Culture of the Catchment – Source to Sea’.

Admission is free free of charge for both events, however tickets must be obtained through Eventbrite to ensure a place at the Foyle and Carlingford seminars respectively.

In other heritage news, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has published its report on the public and sectoral meetings held earlier this year on Heritage Ireland 2030, Ireland’s national heritage plan.

Among the issues raised at the sessions in Kilkenny and Galway in February were a lack of joined-up thinking across Government departments with relation to heritage issues, and a recognition of the need to understand heritage in a holistic sense encompassing everything from regional traditions to built heritage and wildlife.

Earlier this month, 19 young people graduated on the Loughs Agency’s Carlingford Ambassador Programme, an expansion of its successful Foyle Ambassadors scheme.

Supported through funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Ireland, in partnership with Co-operation Ireland, the Carlingford Ambassadors programme is designed to discover the social, economic and environmental importance of the Carlingford Lough catchment, from source to sea.

At the same time, it provides young people with opportunities to engage and build relationships across the region and political divide.

This was done through a range of adventure activities such as fishing and canoeing and as well as environmental projects including clean-ups, shore surveys and personal development sessions.

Shanna Rice, co-ordinator of the programme at the Loughs Agency, said: “During the summer these 19 young people truly became ambassadors of Carlingford, recognising its importance as a natural resource.

“Ambassadors not only built lasting connections with the catchment, they also developed lasting friendships with each other. The experiences they have gained will provide them with skills for life through fun, friendship and adventure.”

Loughs Agency designated officer Sharon McMahon added: “The Ambassadors programme encourages young people to get involved in the conservation and protection of the natural environment, and as the decision makers of the future and future custodians of the natural environment, it is extremely important that they understand the issues effecting this valuable resource today.

“The programme encourages young people to look after their communities, their relationships with their fellow citizens and the natural environment. It provides opportunities for them to enjoy and understand the recreational facility that the great outdoors provides, so that future generations may also enjoy it.

“And just maybe, due to the intervention of young people such as the Foyle Ambassadors, we can make a lasting difference on this wonderful resource to help make it better, more resilient and sustainable.”

Since 2014, nearly 200 young people between the ages of 13 and 17 have participated in this programme in the Foyle and Carlingford areas. And the Loughs Agency says it is keen to continue delivering the programme .

Peter Sheridan, chief executive of Co-operation Ireland, said its involvement in the programme “is a great source of pride for the organisation and we were delighted to be able to support its expansion in 2019 into Carlingford Lough”.

He continued: “I am confident the success we have seen with the Foyle Ambassadors programme over the last five years will be repeated in Carlingford Lough and look forward to continuing our partnership with the Loughs Agency.”

The Ambassador programme has the potential to reach many more young people throughout the Foyle and Carlingford areas, the Loughs Agency says. If you are interested in the programme, register your interest via email to [email protected]

Published in Coastal Notes

Collective work between scientists and the angling community for the survival of salmon in the cross-border catchments of Foyle and Carlingford was to the fore at the recent conference in Omagh hosted by the Loughs Agency.

Stark warnings over the decline of the species were heard along with presentations from the likes of Dr Diego Del Villar, who discussed the new SeaMonitor project that is currently studying the seas around Ireland, Northern Ireland and western Scotland, and will in time help produce a salmon management plan for the River Foyle.

The Loughs Agency says it will soon launch a public consultation to gauge the views of the public in managing the salmon fishery.

John McCartney, Loughs Agency director of conservation and protection, said: “We value the input and opinion of the public when reviewing our salmon management programme. I would encourage everyone take time to consider and respond to the questions.”

Published in Angling

The Loughs Agency is teaming up with the Foyle Association of Salmon and Trout Anglers (FASTA) to host an evening salmon conference in Omagh, Co Tyrone next month.

Our Foyle Salmon – The Upstream Battle at the Mellon Country Inn from 7pm on Wednesday 25 September will hear from speakers on a range of issues including the status of salmon in the River Foyle, current research, threats and steps that can be taken to sustain and protect the species.

This is a fully ticketed event; tickets are free and available through Eventbrite with a maximum of two tickets per transaction.

When registering for tickets you can also submit a question to the panel for the Q&A session at the conference.

Published in Angling

The Loughs Agency has teamed up with police on both sides of the border and a local wildlife group in a joint initiative to tackle fish poaching in Co Tyrone, as Independent.ie reports.

‘Operation Silver Fin’ will take on the scourge of wildlife crime in the area, with a focus on enforcing existing fishing regulations to protect an important angling resource.

Fish poaching, which uses long lines and nets, is only permitted in certain areas — while anyone angling requires a licence and must follow strict rules around where, when and how they fish.

Independent.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

#TallShips- An opportunity for local young people of all backgrounds and abilities are being offered the chance of a lifetime to take part in a sea voyage between Derry-Londonderry and Belfast as part of the Foyle Maritime Festival 2018.

The inaugural voyages will see 10 young people from the North West take part in the Foyle Sail Training Programme in July 2018 alongside 10 young people from Belfast under the guidance of Sail Training Ireland, which has been organising and co-ordinating sail training voyages since its foundation in 2011.

Voyage One, which is open to 15 – 17 year olds, will arrive in Derry on Saturday, July 21st and Voyage Two, with a crew of 18 – 30 year olds, will depart the following day, Sunday, July 22nd, to make the return journey to Belfast. Each voyage aboard the vessel ‘Brian Boru’ lasts for six days and will equip participants with life changing skills.

The project is supported by Derry City and Strabane District Council and the Loughs Agency.

Eileen McGrinder, Project Officer with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for any young person who is thinking of applying, this voyage is an ideal way to step outside your comfort zone, learn new skills, build confidence and make new friends alongside having a great time on the voyage”.

Kevin Wilson, Director of Development, Loughs Agency, said: “The voyage will bring sailing to life for the 20 lucky participants. It will be a challenge, but the experience will create friendships and unforgettable memories. Sailing in the Foyle is accessible for all ages and abilities through local clubs and activity providers on both sides of the border. This is a wonderful opportunity to take the plunge and try something new.”

Sail Training Ireland (STIRL) is incorporated as a not-for-profit limited company in Ireland and has charitable status (CHY20067). It is recognised by Sail Training International as the representative body for Sail Training activities in Ireland.

Foyle Maritime Festival runs from Saturday, July 14th until Sunday, July 22nd when the Clipper 2017-18 Race yachts will be moored at the marina. There will be an array of water-based activities on offer as well as food and craft markets and showcase events. For a full programme, go to: www.foylemaritime.com

The deadline for applications to Foyle Sail Training Programme is Friday, June 15th, 2018.

Applications can be made by individuals or by youth groups, community projects, scouts, and clubs that work with young people to nominate deserving candidates for funded berths.

To apply online, visit: www.sailtrainingireland.com or contact Sail Training Ireland on 00 353 1 816 8866 or at [email protected]

Published in Tall Ships

#Angling - Hundreds of thousands of rainbow trout escaped from a commercial fish farm in Co Tyrone last year, according to the Loughs Agency.

BBC News has details on the cross-border body’s report into the incident on the River Strule at Newtownstewart in August 2017, which estimates some 387,000 female rainbow trout entered the river system.

Despite concerns over potential widespread impact on the wild salmon and trout fishery in the area, it’s believed the majority are still concentrated in the lower Strule, lower Derg and upper Mourne.

Local anglers are asked to continue taking the farmed fish from these rivers and reporting their catches, particularly from important spawning grounds, as mass removal is not an option.

Published in Angling
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