#Mussels - Marine Minister Michael Creed has announced a major step forward for the Freshwater Pearl Mussel Scheme with the recruitment of a dedicated management team to help design and deliver the project on the ground.
A formal request for tenders has now been published by the department, which intends to appoint a project team before the end of the year.
The mussel scheme and a similar project for hen harriers will form part of the department’s new ‘Locally-Led’ initiative, a measure proposed by Ireland under the Rural Development Programme 2014–2020 and delivered through the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) framework.
While formal approval for the new measure is still awaited from the EU, Minister Creed said that he was moving ahead with both projects now to ensure that the schemes would be open to farmers in 2017.
Commenting on the mussel project, the minister said it "will be confined to eight catchments containing approximately 80% of the national population and will target up to 800 participants."
An overall budget of €35 million is being made available to fund both projects, designed and delivered in close collaboration with the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.
“This is a completely new way of responding to what are by any standards major environmental challenges and choosing the right partners is important for my department,” said Minister Creed. “We want to work with management teams composed of key people who are in the best position to realise the goals of both projects, and who can build local ownership on the ground.”
The EIP Locally Led model will encourage a bottom-up design of the schemes by means of:
- An array of stakeholders which include farmers, advisors, administrators, researchers, ecologists, NGOs, Government departments and agencies. Bespoke locally-tailored solutions to problems.
- Strong focus on networking and collaboration to achieve objectives.
- Dissemination and cross-learning of sustainable best practices.
- Harnessing community involvement, ownership and goodwill in order to achieve mutual benefits and RDP objectives.