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Displaying items by tag: Loughs Agency

The Loughs Agency will retain salmon carcass tag numbers for licence holders for the 2023 season in line with the policy followed in the previous two years.

Based on the information collected in 2022, a continual fall in salmon numbers has been recorded year on year, and consequently the precautionary approach previously adopted needs to be maintained, the agency says.

Its interim policy was introduced for the 2020/2021 season whereby the number of tags issued with a game angling licence was reduced to a maximum of one blue tag (1 March to 31 May) and two black tags (1 June to 31 October).

The agency says that after careful evaluation it was decided to maintain the previous position adopted in both 2021 and 2022 while introducing in-year reviews of the salmon runs based on fish counter data, annual angling returns and run strength.

The principal objective of this measure is to carefully manage salmon in the Foyle system due to concern from within the agency over conservation levels of the species.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Loughs Agency has suspended netting in the Foyle area and restricted angling ion the River Finn as a result of a significant drop in recorded salmon migrations upstream.

“It is the view of some stakeholders that the agency should manage carcass tags on a catchment-by-catchment basis,” it says. “The use of real-time figures can be beneficial in informing decision-making on the number of tags to be distributed per year, and how many tags can be given out for angling in each catchment.”

This viewpoint is to be considered in regulatory changes once actions from the review can be implemented, the agency adds.

In the majority of rivers throughout Northern Ireland and in many locations globally, catch and release is now mandatory for salmon angling due to the pressures on sustainable populations. In these areas, no carcass tags are issued, and anglers are forbidden from retaining any fish.

It is encouraging that most anglers in the Foyle area are aware of these pressures, and now voluntarily practice catch and release, the Loughs Agency says.

The agency also emphasised that it “recognises the value of anglers on the rivers and their contributions towards sustainability”.

Published in Angling
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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

Fishery officers from the Loughs Agency recently observed zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) near Victoria Lock at the Newry Canal.

Zebra mussels are an invasive non-native Species (INNS), meaning they have been transported outside of their natural geographic range only to proliferate in their new environment, contributing to habitat loss, species extinction, ecosystem impacts, risks to human health and economic impacts.

Multiple specimens from a range of age classes were observed in the Newry Canal during low water conditions at the end of the summer. The presence of several age classes suggests an established, spawning population, the Loughs Agency says.

Zebra mussels were first recorded in Ireland in 1997 on the lower part of the navigable Shannon system, although it is believed that the species may have actually arrived years earlier. They were first reported in Northern Ireland in 1998 at Lower Lough Erne and, by 2010, a confirmed spawning population was present in Lough Neagh.

Although zebra mussels are now widespread across the island of Ireland, they still present a number of significant ecological, social and commercial threats to native systems. The introduction of this invasive species can lead to unprecedented ecological changes, which occur as a result of zebra mussel settlement, filter feeding and excretion. The combination of these factors has the potential to significantly alter native ecosystems.

Social and commercial factors associated with zebra mussel invasions involve the detrimental effects of mussel ‘biofouling’ on man-made structures such as recreational and commercial watercraft, water intake and cooling systems on industrial plants, jetties and pontoons.

Other economic issues arise from the potential loss of income or employment as a result of the negative ecological impacts, which includes a reduction in the density of an economically valuable species. These impacts all have financial implications in terms of management, mitigation and prevention.

Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon said: “Invasive species have arrived and are continuing to arrive across the island of Ireland through a variety of vectors, almost universally caused by human actions. Therefore, it is imperative that preventative measures are taken to avoid further spread and introductions.

“It is the responsibility of all water users to ensure that invasive non-native species are not transferred between water bodies. Do not introduce zebra mussels to any new sites and all sightings of the species should be reported. Avoid fouling of boats and equipment, and ensure everything is clean before moving to any new waterbodies. In addition, do not move ballast water between waterbodies.“”

Invasive Species Northern Ireland recommends the ‘Check Clean Dry’ approach for best practice in biosecurity on Ireland’s waterways. For further details on INNS found within the Foyle and Carlingford catchments, visit the Loughs Agency website.

Published in Angling

The Loughs Agency has been announced as a new Corporate Bronze Member of Leave No Trace Ireland.

In partnering with the organisation, the cross-border agency will reinforce its calls for water users to become environmental stewards in the Foyle and Carlingford catchment areas, while its educational initiatives will highlight the organisation’s ethos to school pupils.

Sharon McMahon, Loughs Agency chief executive said: “We are delighted to become Leave No Trace Ireland’s newest Corporate Bronze Member. The values of both organisations are closely aligned as we share the common goal of protecting and conserving our natural environment.

“It is now more important than ever for all water users, ranging from anglers to those partaking in recreational activities such as sailing, canoeing and coastal camping, to ensure they abide by the seven key principles outlined by the organisation.

“Disposing of waste properly and minimising the effects of fire are two of these, which will form part of our environmental messaging moving forward.

“We are excited to work with Leave No Trace Ireland and we’re optimistic that through meaningful partnerships such as this, we can raise awareness of our roles and responsibilities in ensuring that everyone gets to enjoy the natural world for many years to come.”

The Loughs Agency says it will now begin implementing Leave No Trace principles into its work, and through its membership will embed the ethos further into its educational initiatives.

Published in Environment

The Loughs Agency and pupils from Moville Community College in Co Donegal have been exploring the freshwater and marine environments of the Foyle catchment as part of the Foyle Ambassadors Programme.

The five-day Ambassador programme provides a fantastic opportunity for pupils to learn about their local environment outside the classroom through hands-on participative experiences.

One field trip focused on freshwater ecosystems. The ambassadors learned how to collect and identify various mini-beasts found in local rivers, completing a citizen survey to help indicate the river's overall water quality.

Environmental education and outreach officer Aoibheann Gillespie-Mules said: “We had discussions about rivers, highlighting the habitats in which the fish live, the food they eat, the natural threats they face and the impact of human activities and waste on their health and survival.

“It is important for young people to be aware of these local issues and their role in protecting local habitats.”

The ambassadors also explored the intertidal zone of Culdaff Beach. Pupils were amazed to discover a variety of marine life under seaweeds and rocks — from shore crabs and mussels to common prawns, barnacles, limpets and anemones.

Pupils at Moville pupils get a classroom briefing | Credit: Loughs AgencyPupils at Moville pupils get a classroom briefing | Credit: Loughs Agency

Ambassadors learned how to identify many marine critters and, most importantly, gently and safely handle and minimise disturbances, always leaving seaweeds and rocks as they were found.

Gillespie-Mules added: “We discussed the importance of our ocean, blue carbon ecosystems and involvement in citizen science projects.

“It was great to see the young people leading a coastal clean-up, collecting litter whilst recording what they found. The Ambassadors gathered over 250 items, including a large rope covered in goose barnacles.”

To end the day, the Foyle Ambassadors got to showcase their creative sides through the designing of marine beach art.

Ambassadors have also received coaching from professional angling guides at a local fishery. For many, it was their first fishing experience, and a few were able catch and release fish for the first time.

Each ambassador received a Loughs Agency rod licence as part of the programme and can continue to fish for the rest of the season.

The Ambassador experience enables pupils to gain the John Muir Discovery Award and complements their learning in subjects such as geography and science. This experience will also plant many seeds for future decision-making regarding protecting and conserving our natural world, the Loughs Agency says.

Published in Environment

The Loughs Agency’s Education Team were recently invited to Drumahoe Primary School in Derry to facilitate a freshwater habitat study of the River Faughan.

Over 50 Year Seven pupils participated in the activity against the backdrop of the historic Drumahoe Bridge.

The session started with an introduction to Loughs Agency and what the organisation does across the Foyle and Carlingford catchments in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The young pupils were challenged with several river study tasks, including assessing the weather (particularly precipitation), river width and depth, riverbed type and surrounding land use, as well as a litter survey and litter pick.

A highlight of the trip was discovering the macroinvertebrates found in the river after pupils collected bug samples.

Education engagement officer Jack Porter explained: “Through this activity, pupils learned that each river bug, or macroinvertebrate, is an indicator of how healthy or polluted the water is. The activity developed their understanding of the importance of water quality and the role of macroinvertebrates within the river’s ecosystem.”

To conclude the trip, pupils participated in bird and fish identification, further expanding their impressive knowledge of the wildlife in and around their nearby rivers.

The Drumahoe pupils left with a greater understanding of the local environment and a new role as citizen scientists. Some even showed an interest in becoming freshwater scientists in the future.

The Loughs Agency’s Education Team are keen to work with primary and post-primary schools within the Foyle and Carlingford catchments. Get in touch by emailing [email protected] for more information.

Published in Environment
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The Loughs Agency is currently recruiting a new chief executive officer, based in Derry, for the body which manages Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough.

Among other requirements, candidates are expected to demonstrate a proven track record of experience as a leader and senior manager within the public, private, voluntary or community sectors — and have experience of creating and delivering important change in a multi-disciplinary and complex environment.

A degree in a relevant area such as marine science, fisheries management, sustainable development, business administration or marketing is also desired.

The current salary range for this position is £61,742–£67,403. Salary at appointment will normally be at the minimum point of the scale, however, a higher starting salary may be considered if the successful candidate has exceptionally relevant qualifications, experience or skills.

Full details of the criteria for the role, as well as the application and selection process, are available on PublicJobs.ie. The closing date for applications is 3pm on Thursday 3 November.

Published in Jobs
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The Loughs Agency says it welcomes the new legislation to protect basking sharks in Irish waters.

As reported by Afloat.ie on Monday (3 October), measures to accord the status of ‘protected wild animal’ on basking sharks under the Wildlife Act were signed into law by Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan.

The Irish Basking Shark Group (IBSG) was among the organisations responsible for pushing the new regulations through. The group’s ‘Save our Shark’ campaign garnered the support of over 12,000 members of the public signing an online petition.

The basking shark has been classified as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of globally threatened species, with its status changing from vulnerable to endangered globally in 2019.

It is now protected from hunting, injury and wilful destruction of its breeding and resting places in Irish waters under the Wildlife Act. However, the Social Democrats are calling for a protection plan “with the necessary resources” for the second-largest fish in the oceans.

Basking sharks have been frequently sighted in both Loughs Agency catchments— in Lough Foyle off the coast of Donegal as well as in Carlingford Lough.

The Loughs Agency is the cross-border body for the fisheries and marine resources of the Foyle and Carlingford areas and says it has been heavily involved in conservation efforts for the basking shark and other marine wildlife species as part of the SeaMonitor Project, with further updates available in the near future.

Sharon McMahon, chief executive of the Loughs Agency said: “We welcome the news that these stunning creatures are now designated as protected under Ireland’s Wildlife Act.

“The threat of extinction is on the increase for the basking shark, and as our waters constitute one of the most internationally important coastal regions for the species, this announcement will serve to ensure our loughs remain a safe space.

“On behalf of Loughs Agency, I would like to thank Ministers Noonan and McConalogue for signing off these regulations.”

The move has also been welcomed as “a huge step forward” by campaign network Fair Seas, though its policy officer Dr Donal Griffin added: “We can do even more to make sure basking sharks thrive in Irish waters.”

Published in Marine Wildlife

A group of 16 young people came together last month for a five-day programme exploring the natural resources of the Carlingford catchment.

The Loughs Agency’s Carlingford Ambassador programme aims to connect young people to the waterways in their local area through discovering, conserving and protecting native flora and fauna.

The young people, who are residents from all over the catchment, gathered on the first day and immediately gelled together after a morning of icebreakers.

Through presentations and conversations, they learned about the role of the Loughs Agency and its importance in the protection and conservation of local ecosystems and biodiversity.

Camlough Lake in Co Armagh was the destination for day two. For many, it was their first time holding a fishing rod. Angling coaches provided excellent tuition and valuable tips and techniques, particularly on implementing best practices for catch and release.

This was a fun and positive day with lots of fish being caught and released by all the ambassadors — an outstanding achievement and confidence boost for many.

Day three was spent among the magnificent oak trees of Fairy Glen in Rostrevor, Co Down on the banks of the Kilbroney River. Fishery inspector David Clarke and the Carlingford team demonstrated how they carry out electrofishing surveys, building awareness of the different fish species found in their local rivers.

Carlingford Ambassadors took part in a coastal clean-up along the shore of Carlingford Lough | Credit: Loughs AgencyCarlingford Ambassadors took part in a coastal clean-up along the shore of Carlingford Lough | Credit: Loughs Agency

Ambassadors had the opportunity to learn about the role of a fishery officer, with some members of the group mentioning that this interested them as a possible career path.

The remainder of the day was spent collecting and identifying invertebrate species found in local rivers and completing a citizen survey to help indicate the river’s overall water quality.

On day four, the ambassadors explored the intertidal zone of Carlingford Lough. They were amazed to discover marine life under seaweeds and rocks — from shore crabs, blennies and mussels to breadcrumb sponges, dog whelk eggs and anemones.

Ambassadors also learned how to identify marine critters and, most importantly, to gently and safely handle them, minimising disturbance and always leaving seaweeds and rocks as they were found.

After the rockpool explorations, they led a coastal clean-up collecting litter while recording what was found. Litter items consisted of aquaculture debris (rubber bands and zip ties), soft plastics, pieces of glass and much more.

On the final day, poor weather conditions meant paddleboarding had to be abandoned. Instead, the group went to SkyPark, Ireland’s largest adventure park in Carlingford, Co Louth. The ambassadors took on the challenges, overcoming considerable fears in tackling the heights, jumps and zip lines, all while cheering each other on in what marked a brilliant way to finish the week.

Throughout the programme, the Carlingford Ambassadors have embraced all the activities and challenged themselves, while also learning about their local natural environment and what they can do to help protect and conserve it, the Loughs Agency says.

Published in Coastal Notes
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More than 200 new Salmon Ambassadors have graduated as part of the Loughs Agency’s 2022 programme for primary schools in the Foyle and Carlingford river catchments.

The interactive, hands-on learning programme encouraged pupils to learn about their local river system and included various activities and topics such as salmon life cycles, migration, conservation, preservation, restoration and the role of the Loughs Agency.

This year’s programme culminated in an online conference showcasing the outstanding salmon projects carried out by each school since the beginning of February.

At the virtual event, pupils presented animations, videos, posters and works of art to their fellow Salmon Ambassadors across the participating schools, which this year were Broadbridge Primary School in Eglinton, Drumrane Primary School in Dungiven, St Columba’s Primary School in Newbuildings and Nazareth House Primary School, all in Co Derry; Scoil Naomh Lorcan in Omeath, Co Louth; St Mary’s National School in Stranorlar, Co Donegal; and St Patrick’s Primary School in Castlederg, Co Tyrone.

Each class focused on a particular life stage. Participants also had the opportunity to hear stories: a grandfather of one of the pupils was famous for catching the largest salmon ever recorded in the River Finn.

Pupils highlighted the habitats in which the fish live, the food they eat, the natural threats they face and the impact of human activities and waste on their health and survival. 

Each class also had the opportunity to create a pledge to work towards in the future to continue conserving and protecting salmon populations and their surrounding environments.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Loughs Agency initiated Salmon Ambassadors as part of 2019’s International Year of the Salmon to help connect young people to the array of incredible fish that inhabit the Foyle and Carlingford catchments.

The next Salmon Ambassador programme will commence in early 2023 and is targeted at primary- and national-school level, the Loughs Agency says.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay on the east coast of Ireland stretches over seven kilometres, from Howth Head on its northern tip to Dalkey Island in the south. It's a place most Dubliners simply take for granted, and one of the capital's least visited places. But there's more going on out there than you'd imagine.

The biggest boating centre is at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the Bay's south shore that is home to over 1,500 pleasure craft, four waterfront yacht clubs and Ireland's largest marina.

The bay is rather shallow with many sandbanks and rocky outcrops, and was notorious in the past for shipwrecks, especially when the wind was from the east. Until modern times, many ships and their passengers were lost along the treacherous coastline from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, less than a kilometre from shore.

The Bay is a C-shaped inlet of the Irish Sea and is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and 7 km in length to its apex at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south. North Bull Island is situated in the northwest part of the bay, where one of two major inshore sandbanks lie, and features a 5 km long sandy beach, Dollymount Strand, fronting an internationally recognised wildfowl reserve. Many of the rivers of Dublin reach the Irish Sea at Dublin Bay: the River Liffey, with the River Dodder flow received less than 1 km inland, River Tolka, and various smaller rivers and streams.

Dublin Bay FAQs

There are approximately ten beaches and bathing spots around Dublin Bay: Dollymount Strand; Forty Foot Bathing Place; Half Moon bathing spot; Merrion Strand; Bull Wall; Sandycove Beach; Sandymount Strand; Seapoint; Shelley Banks; Sutton, Burrow Beach

There are slipways on the north side of Dublin Bay at Clontarf, Sutton and on the southside at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, and in Dalkey at Coliemore and Bulloch Harbours.

Dublin Bay is administered by a number of Government Departments, three local authorities and several statutory agencies. Dublin Port Company is in charge of navigation on the Bay.

Dublin Bay is approximately 70 sq kilometres or 7,000 hectares. The Bay is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and seven km in length east-west to its peak at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the southside of the Bay has an East and West Pier, each one kilometre long; this is one of the largest human-made harbours in the world. There also piers or walls at the entrance to the River Liffey at Dublin city known as the Great North and South Walls. Other harbours on the Bay include Bulloch Harbour and Coliemore Harbours both at Dalkey.

There are two marinas on Dublin Bay. Ireland's largest marina with over 800 berths is on the southern shore at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The other is at Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club on the River Liffey close to Dublin City.

Car and passenger Ferries operate from Dublin Port to the UK, Isle of Man and France. A passenger ferry operates from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to Howth as well as providing tourist voyages around the bay.

Dublin Bay has two Islands. Bull Island at Clontarf and Dalkey Island on the southern shore of the Bay.

The River Liffey flows through Dublin city and into the Bay. Its tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac.

Dollymount, Burrow and Seapoint beaches

Approximately 1,500 boats from small dinghies to motorboats to ocean-going yachts. The vast majority, over 1,000, are moored at Dun Laoghaire Harbour which is Ireland's boating capital.

In 1981, UNESCO recognised the importance of Dublin Bay by designating North Bull Island as a Biosphere because of its rare and internationally important habitats and species of wildlife. To support sustainable development, UNESCO’s concept of a Biosphere has evolved to include not just areas of ecological value but also the areas around them and the communities that live and work within these areas. There have since been additional international and national designations, covering much of Dublin Bay, to ensure the protection of its water quality and biodiversity. To fulfil these broader management aims for the ecosystem, the Biosphere was expanded in 2015. The Biosphere now covers Dublin Bay, reflecting its significant environmental, economic, cultural and tourism importance, and extends to over 300km² to include the bay, the shore and nearby residential areas.

On the Southside at Dun Laoghaire, there is the National Yacht Club, Royal St. George Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club and Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club as well as Dublin Bay Sailing Club. In the city centre, there is Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club. On the Northside of Dublin, there is Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club and Sutton Dinghy Club. While not on Dublin Bay, Howth Yacht Club is the major north Dublin Sailing centre.

© Afloat 2020