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Displaying items by tag: Loughs Agency

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

With Met Éireann forecasting a heat wave for large parts of the country into this weekend, combined with lower-than-average rainfall, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is warning that there is a high risk of fish kills due to thermal stress and reduced oxygen levels in lakes and rivers.

Also known as deoxygenation, reduced oxygen levels in a river or lake make it very difficult for fish to breathe and survive.

The State agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats is concerned that water levels in many rivers are low and approaching drought conditions.

Therefore, it is appealing to anglers, the farming community and the general public to report any sightings of fish under thermal stress, which may be caused by the extreme heat combined with low water levels and other pressures.

Anglers are also being asked to voluntarily stop using ‘keep nets’ while high temperature warnings from Met Éireann are in place, as these nets may cause unintentional distress to fish.

In addition, anglers that practice ‘catch and release’ fishing are asked not to fish during the heat wave where possible, as this may put undue pressure on fish populations.

Dr Gregory Forde, head of operations at IFI explains: “Unfortunately low water levels and high water temperatures can lead to fish kills, especially as there is less oxygen in the water to allow fish to breathe.

‘During the current heat wave, air and water temperatures are approaching dangerous levels and fish kills may be unavoidable’

“Once the water temperature exceeds 20C, fish species such as salmon and trout suffer ‘thermal stress’. During the current heat wave, air and water temperatures are approaching dangerous levels and fish kills may be unavoidable. In some instances, moving fish in and out of the water may also prove too stressful. 

“That’s why we’re asking anglers practicing catch and release fishing to consider taking a break from fishing while high temperature warnings are in place. We’re also asking anglers to voluntarily stop using ‘keep nets’ until conditions become more favourable.”

Last month, IFI and the Office of Public Works’ data buoy recorded a surface water temperature of 21.84C at Lough Sheelin in Co Cavan, coinciding with July’s hottest air temperature of 30.75C. 

IFI notes that significant thermal stress can occur in brown trout and other cold water fish species at temperatures at or above 20C.

Forde said: “Inland Fisheries Ireland staff are continuously monitoring water bodies, such as rivers and lakes, for any signs of fish suffering thermal stress in shallow water or drying out rivers and streams.

“We’re encouraging the public to report any sightings of fish suffering thermal stress to our 24-hour confidential hotline on 0818 34 74 24 so we can respond as quickly as possible to help rescue or relocate these fish.

“It is also a good time to remind all those using pesticides that these should be used only as a last resort, always in accordance with product instructions and always respecting statutory ‘no use’ zones, being mindful at all times of proximity to water bodies such as ditches, streams, ponds, rivers, lakes and springs. Even a very small amount of pesticide can be highly toxic to the aquatic environment.”

‘Many of our fish species will find survival difficult in these warm conditions without the added pressure of angling stress’

Elsewhere, the Loughs Agency is advising anglers across both the Foyle and Carlingford catchments to help preserve salmon and trout stocks in local rivers following prolonged periods of hot weather.

These extreme weather conditions have led to low river flows, high water temperatures and low oxygen levels in many bodies of water.

The guidance comes after only 43% of the average rainfall fell in Northern Ireland last month, although some rivers in the Foyle catchment also experienced severe flooding. Each one of these significant weather events put stress on fish.

The agency’s head of science Dr Sarah McLean is hopeful that anglers will proceed with caution on the rivers, particularly when fishing in the current warm temperatures.

“Many of our fish species will find survival difficult in these warm conditions without the added pressure of angling stress,” she said.

“Even catch and release poses a risk in these conditions as low dissolved oxygen in the water can result in poor fish recovery rates and inadvertent mortalities.

“It is also worth remembering that high water temperatures and low dissolved oxygen levels may also leave fish more susceptible to parasites and disease, so any fish caught will also require additional care when handling.”

There are several measures anglers in Foyle and Carlingford can take to help protect fish during the hot weather:

  • Consider taking the water temperature before you fish and avoid fishing at times when water temperatures are high. Water temperature will be coolest in the early morning.
  • Where possible, keep fish in the water during catch and release.
  • Seek advice from fishery or angling clubs where appropriate.
  • Avoid targeting larger fish or sensitive species.
  • Keep nets should not be used by coarse anglers during warm weather.
  • Limit handling time.
  • Where possible and safe, release fish into deeper, faster flowing water. 

Anglers should report distressed or dead fish in the Foyle or Carlingford catchments directly and promptly to the Loughs Agency at +44 (0)28 71 342100 or [email protected]

Published in Angling

The Loughs Agency said it was delighted to welcome Charlie McConalogue, Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, to its zone at the Foyle Maritime Festival recently.

The minister was able to spend some time with the staff and experience the agency’s ‘Marine Machine’, which featured a critters’ pond, biodiversity area and a life-size basking shark.

Among the critters were crabs and a lobster, while the biodiversity area highlighted some of the hidden hazards that can be found within our catchments and beyond.

The Loughs Agency also debuted its ‘VR Experience’ at the maritime festival. The short video took users on a journey along the River Foyle past the Craigavon and Peace Bridges before diving underwater where the famous ‘Dopey Dick’ whale and a basking shark awaited.

Minister McConalogue said: “I had great pleasure visiting the Foyle Maritime Festival and had the opportunity to attend the Loughs Agency zone at the festival and meet the team.

“The Marine Machine and VR Experience are very impressive in promoting the importance of conservation and development of the fisheries and marine resources of the Foyle and Carlingford catchments.

“It was great to see the family-focused activities provided by Loughs Agency based on the River Foyle, ensuring enjoyment for the whole family.”

Loughs Agency interim chief executive Sharon McMahon added: “Firstly, on behalf of the Agency I'd like to extend a huge thank you to the minister for taking the time to come and visit our zone. It was a great opportunity to showcase our contribution to the Foyle Maritime Festival and we thoroughly enjoyed having Mr McConalogue as our guest.

“It was also brilliant to be able to highlight our ongoing work in providing sustainable social, economic and environmental benefits through the effective conservation, management, promotion and development of the fisheries and marine resources of the Foyle and Carlingford areas.

“The Marine Machine and VR experience are just the latest in a long line of projects for Loughs Agency, particularly when it comes to promoting positive biodiversity.”

Published in Maritime Festivals
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boot Düsseldorf, the International Boat Show

With almost 250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair and every year in January the “meeting place" for the entire industry. Around 2,000 exhibitors present their interesting new products, attractive further developments and maritime equipment. This means that the complete market will be on site in Düsseldorf and will be inviting visitors on nine days of the fair to an exciting journey through the entire world of water sports in 17 exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology, equipment and accessories, services, canoes, kayaks, kitesurfing, rowing, diving, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, SUP, fishing, maritime art, marinas, water sports facilities as well as beach resorts and charter, there is something for every water sports enthusiast.

boot Düsseldorf FAQs

boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair. Seventeen exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology.

The Fairground Düsseldorf. This massive Dusseldorf Exhibition Centre is strategically located between the River Rhine and the airport. It's about 20 minutes from the airport and 20 minutes from the city centre.

250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair.

The 2018 show was the golden jubilee of the show, so 2021 will be the 51st show.

Every year in January. In 2021 it will be 23-31 January.

Messe Düsseldorf GmbH Messeplatz 40474 Düsseldorf Tel: +49 211 4560-01 Fax: +49 211 4560-668

The Irish marine trade has witnessed increasing numbers of Irish attendees at boot over the last few years as the 17-Hall show becomes more and more dominant in the European market and direct flights from Dublin offer the possibility of day trips to the river Rhine venue.

Boats & Yachts Engines, Engine parts Yacht Equipment Watersports Services Canoes, Kayaks, Rowing Waterski, Wakeboard, Kneeboard & Skimboard Jetski + Equipment & Services Diving, Surfing, Windsurfing, Kite Surfing & SUP Angling Maritime Art & Crafts Marinas & Watersports Infrastructure Beach Resorts Organisations, Authorities & Clubs

Over 1000 boats are on display.

©Afloat 2020

At A Glance – Boot Dusseldorf 

Organiser
Messe Düsseldorf GmbH
Messeplatz
40474 Düsseldorf
Tel: +49 211 4560-01
Fax: +49 211 4560-668
Web: https://www.boot.com/

The first boats and yachts will once again be arriving in December via the Rhine.

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