Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Loughs Agency to Lead €1.6m Europe-Wide Project Monitoring Marine Life

16th February 2024
Atlantic sea trout and salmon are among the key species that will be tracked in the three-year NorTrack project
Atlantic sea trout and salmon are among the key species that will be tracked in the three-year NorTrack project

The Loughs Agency is set to lead a major marine tracking project after €1.6m of EU funding was secured by the European Tracking Network (ETN).

The successful bid came following an open call for funding by the EU’s Biodiversa+ scheme, which is designed to support research proposals relating to biodiversity projects.

At the national level, funding has been provided by the Environmental Protection Agency to enable the Loughs Agency to participate in the programme.

The three-year North East Atlantic Marine Tracking Network (NorTrack) project aims to monitor the movements of aquatic species critical to the North-East Atlantic (NEA).

This collaborative initiative will also address pressing questions related to major ecological challenges facing this vital marine region.

The remote tracking of animals, which is known in research circles as telemetry, has already provided vital information about the biology and ecology of aquatic species.

In addition to Atlantic salmon and sea trout, the project will enable the Loughs Agency to study the movements of European eel as well as predator–prey interactions.

NorTrack will work closely with the Horizon Europe-funded STRAITS (Strategic Infrastructure for Improved Animal Tracking in Europeans Seas) project, which has distributed acoustic telemetry infrastructure throughout Europe so that the movements of various aquatic species can be studied.

‘These types of collaborative research initiatives are crucial in gathering data which can inform policy and decision-making’

Sharon McMahon, Loughs Agency chief executive said: “We are delighted to once again be playing a leading role in a major pan-European biodiversity project, supported by our brilliant colleagues at ETN.

“These types of collaborative research initiatives are crucial in gathering data which can inform policy and decision-making for matters within our remit.

“The funding obtained ensures that Loughs Agency can continue the exemplary work carried out in recent years on projects such as SeaMonitor and STRAITS, and the team looks forward to making a difference.”

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Tara Higgins, EPA programme manager said: “The EPA is committed to supporting Ireland’s participation and leadership in important transnational research partnerships like Biodiversa+.

“We are delighted to fund the Loughs Agency in leading the NorTrack research project, which will advance marine biodiversity monitoring in the North-East Atlantic and in turn contribute to international marine management, conservation and policy.

“The EPA also acknowledges the important role of our co-funding partners, the Marine Institute and the National Parks & Wildlife Service, in supporting the NorTrack project.”

More information on this project can be found at Team

About The Author Team

Email The Author is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven't put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open. is Ireland's only full-time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

About the Loughs Agency

The Loughs Agency is a governmental body established under the 1998 Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of Ireland. The Agency's goal is to provide sustainable social, economic, and environmental benefits by effectively conserving, managing, promoting, and developing the fisheries and marine resources of the Foyle and Carlingford areas.

The Agency's governing legislation confers several specific functions, including the promotion of development of Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough for commercial and recreational purposes in respect of marine, fishery, and aquaculture matters. Moreover, the Agency is responsible for managing, conserving, protecting, improving, and developing the inland fisheries of the Foyle and Carlingford areas. Additionally, the Agency has the task of developing and licensing aquaculture, as well as the development of marine tourism.

The Loughs Agency reports to the North South Ministerial Council and its government Sponsor Departments, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland, and the Department of the Environment, Climate, and Communications (DECC) in Ireland. The Departments fund the Agency on an equal basis.

The Loughs Agency's focus on sustainable development is expected to have a positive impact on the economy, environment, and local communities in the Foyle and Carlingford areas. The Agency's efforts to conserve and enhance the region's marine resources, including fisheries and aquaculture, are expected to benefit local communities, promote tourism, and contribute to economic growth.

In conclusion, the Loughs Agency plays a vital role in promoting the sustainable social, economic, and environmental development of the Foyle and Carlingford areas. Its work on marine conservation and development is crucial in ensuring the long-term viability of the region's natural resources and in promoting sustainable economic growth.