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The State agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats has launching a funding call of up to €1 million to support vital conservation projects around the country.

Since 2016, more than €5 million in grants have been awarded to over 250 projects throughout Ireland under funds administered by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

Now eligible angling clubs, fishery owners and other stakeholders are invited to apply for funding to support fisheries conservation projects in their local areas through the 2022 Habitats and Conservation Fund scheme, which was launched this past Tuesday 9 November.

Priority will be given to projects that focus on habitat rehabilitation and conservation, such as improving water quality, rehabilitating damaged habitats and helping fish overcome physical barriers like impassable weirs.

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan has welcomed the funding call and is encouraging eligible groups and stakeholders to apply.

“The Habitats and Conservation Scheme is a great example of how we can encourage and support the stewardship role of managing our natural resources across the country,” he said. “This important environmental scheme supports angling clubs, fishery owners, and stakeholders — in helping them to improve damaged habitats, water quality and fish passage.

“The works and studies supported by the scheme in the future will also result in wider benefits for the environment. As the funding call is now open, I would encourage any eligible group or stakeholder to contact Inland Fisheries Ireland and express their interest in applying for this grant before the deadline.”

In 2021, a total of €785,604 in funding was approved for 18 projects, based in Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kilkenny, Laois, Limerick, Mayo, Roscommon, Wexford, Westmeath and Wicklow.

Examples included the construction of rock ramp passages, to make it easier for fish to migrate upstream and downstream of impassable weirs and the installation of fencing to improve water quality. This was done by stopping livestock from entering the river and providing them with alternative sources of drinking water.

Suzanne Campion, IFI’s head of business development, said that protecting and conserving fish species like Atlantic salmon and sea trout was critical to the overall health of the country’s eco-system.

“Damaged riverine habitats can lead to poorer water quality, climate change can lead to rising water temperatures and invasive species can mean even more threats to biodiversity,” she said. :These are having a damaging impact on our rivers and lakes and on all species that depend on them for survival.

“Under the Habitats and Conservation Scheme, made possible through fishing licence income, groups can now apply for grants to fund projects and measures that benefit the conservation of freshwater fish and habitats.”

As part of a new two-step process, all applicants must firstly complete an ‘Expression of Interest’ application on IFI’s online grant management portal before 5,30pm on Friday 17 December.

After the expression of interest has been completed, full applications must then be submitted to IFI via the online grant management portal by 5.30pm on Friday 28 January 2022.

An information guide about the Habitats and Conservation Funding Call 2022 is available to download from the IFI website HERE.

Published in Angling

Just 34 breeding pairs of curlew were confirmed in the fifth year of the Curlew Conservation Programme, according to figures in its 2021 report.

And of that number — recorded across nine important breeding areas — only nine pairs were confirmed to have produced fledglings, a breeding success rate of just 26%.

While the breeding productivity rate of 0.50 fledglings/breeding pair is above the threshold of 0.43 required for a stable population, it continues a significant trend of decline since 2019 when the rate was 0.81.

The figures have prompted an online petition to Minister of State Malcolm Noonan amid fears that the Irish breeding curlew “is headed to extinction” due to human activity.

It calls on the minister and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to take action on a number of points, including an immediate increase in funding for curlew conservation, and establishing an integrated stakeholder emergency taskforce” led by the current conservation programme.

It also appeals for allocating former Bord na Mona peatlands as priority habitats for curlews, and initiating a review of commercial forestry licensing “where the habitat is favourable to ground-nesting birds”.

“If these actions are not taken, the Irish curlew will be lost within the next decade,” the petition organisers say. “This will be a preventable tragedy we can not stand idly by and let happen.”

The wading birds are winter visitors to Ireland’s inland and coastal wetlands, but also breed in inland floodplains and bogland, in rough pastures, meadows and heather.

However, according to Birdwatch Ireland their numbers and range “have declined substantially in recent decades. It is likely that increased afforestation and agricultural improvement are responsible for these declines.”

Curlew in Ireland are red-listed as a threatened species.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan has announced a partnership agreement with Enniscoe House, in Co Mayo that will see the establishment of a new nature reserve on the site.

The reserve would be jointly managed by the owners, the Kellet Family, and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to provide for the conservation, education and enhancement of the estate and in particular its vulnerable aquatic wildlife.

Enniscoe Estate borders Lough Conn, a Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive, where Atlantic salmon, freshwater pearl mussels, otters and white-clawed crayfish are the qualifying interest for a potential nature reserve designation.

It’s also designated a Special Protection Area under the birds directive, where breeding common scoter, common gulls and overwintering white-fronted geese are present.

In addition, Lough Conn is a legally protected Wildfowl Sanctuary under the Wildlife Acts. The rare Irish red squirrel was recorded in the woodlands in 2019.

Minister Noonan acknowledged the commitment and dedication of the Kellet family towards managing their lands for nature, heritage and community.

Enniscoe House in Co Mayo, the grounds of which border Lough ConnEnniscoe House in Co Mayo, the grounds of which border Lough Conn

“I’m deeply impressed by what I’ve seen here at Enniscoe House – the Kellet family’s love and care for one of the great houses of the West over generations is inspiring.,” he said.

“The efforts they have made to protect the cultural integrity of the buildings, the work done to develop a sustainable rural enterprise, and the ongoing initiatives to protect and enhance biodiversity on the site are all to be commended.

“I thank the Kellet family for their foresight in collaborating with the National Parks and Wildlife Service at Enniscoe. These partnerships will deliver benefits to communities, nature and our built and cultural heritage.”

Susan Kellet, whose family has owned and managed Enniscoe House for 14 generations, commented: “I am delighted to have entered into this partnership with National Parks and Wildlife Service and Minister Noonan. It seems an excellent match between the work of NPWS and my own ambitions to preserve and enhance this unique corner of Mayo.

“Enniscoe House and Estate has been in the ownership of my family since the 17th century. While the estate is now only a fraction of its original size, the essential core remains. The present house dates from the 1790s, a plain exterior concealing an elegant Georgian interior.

“I have been running Enniscoe House and estate for over 30 years and my son is now taking over much of the work. He joins me in thanking the minister, and the staff of NPWS, for the opportunity to create this relationship between a private owner of an historic house and estate and the department. We look forward to many fruitful years of working together”.

Published in Marine Wildlife

In the Isle of Man, a historic boat is to return to the Nautical Museum.

Moving an 18th century schooner back to the Nautical Museum in Castletown is expected to cost more than £5 million.

The Peggy was removed for conservation work in 2015 after being housed in what were described as 'appalling conditions'.

A motion is going before the Manx Government (yesterday, 18 May) to set out a timeline for the boat's return.

Manx National Heritage Chairman Jonathan Hall spoke to Local Democracy Reporter Chris Cave, to listen, Manx Radio reports. 

Read WM Nixon's full blog on Peggy here

Published in Historic Boats

Since 2016, Inland Fisheries Ireland has awarded more than €4 million to over 200 sustainable angling projects across the country.

Now more eligible community groups and angling clubs can apply for the latest round of grant funding available to sustainable fisheries conservation and development projects, with over €1 million announced today (Friday 27 November).

Expressions of interest have been sought under two schemes funded by angler contributions: the €50,000 Midlands Fisheries Funds, which focuses on sustainable works in the midland fisheries permit area; and the €1 million Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund.

To be eligible, applicants must have contributed to the relevant fund through the purchasing of a midland fisheries permit or a salmon and sea trout licence, whether for angling or commercial purposes.

Expressions of interest (that will progress to full applications) will be accepted from this Monday 30 November, and applications and must be submitted before 5.30pm on Thursday 28 January. Decisions on applications and grants will be announced in May next year.

Further information on the grant schemes available and how to apply is available from the IFI website.

Published in Angling

A new joint initiative between the Marine Institute and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) aims to revitalise the freshwater pearl mussel through a pilot captive breeding programme.

Pearl mussels are capable of surviving for up to 140 years, making them Ireland’s longest living animal.

But environmental changed have put them on the verge of extinction. The species is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and is one of the 365 most endangered species in the world.

In Ireland, 19 Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) have been designated in an effort to conserve the pearl mussel in its native habitats.

‘We are hopeful that over time this joint project will lead to a positive outcome for the freshwater pearl mussel in Ireland’

And the new programme — to be based at the Marine Institute’s Newport Research Facility in Co Mayo, close to one of the last remaining reproducing populations of freshwater pearl mussels — is hoped to safeguard the survival of the rare species into the future.

“Captive breeding programmes are already well established in several countries, and we are hopeful that over time this joint project between the Marine Institute and the National Parks and Wildlife Service will lead to a positive outcome for the freshwater pearl mussel in Ireland,” said Dr Áine O'Connor of the NPWS.

One of the reasons for the decline of the freshwater pearl mussel is the low survival rate among juveniles, which are extremely sensitive to slight changes in environmental conditions. This is leading to an ageing population, not capable of replenishing itself.

Juvenile survival is dependent on a clean riverbed, with little silt, sediment or algal growth. These mussels also have a very unusual life cycle, in that they are dependent on the Atlantic salmon and brown trout to host their larvae, called glochidia, for about 10 months. The captive breeding programme is targeted at this crucial life stage.

‘This small experimental population will be given a year to see if the juveniles grow to the stage where they can settle themselves in a suitable habitat’

Work on the programme began this past June when a tank in the Marine Institute’s hatchery was set up with 300 juvenile salmon. In July, 30 adult mussels were removed from the Newport River and transported to the tank.

The project team are currently waiting to see if mussels will release glochidia and whether these will naturally attach themselves to the gills of the salmon.

If successful, the Marine Institute and NPWS will maintain this small experimental population for a year to see if the juveniles grow to the stage where the mussels can detach from the fish and settle themselves in a suitable habitat.

“Historically, we know the Burrishoole catchment [in the area around Newport] contained pearl mussels, which gives us some confidence that the water supply to the hatchery on Lough Feeagh is suitable for long-term maintenance of the mussel populations,” said Marine Institute zoologist Dr Elvira de Eyto.

The pilot captive breeding programme is a partnership between the Marine Institute and NPWS in conjunction with freshwater pearl mussel specialists Evelyn Moorkens and Ian Killeen.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Tralee Bay is a “major nursery” for sharks and rays in Irish waters, says a local marine wildlife expert.

And Kevin Flannery insists the important breeding ground for the likes of angel sharks and porbeagle sharks needs protection.

Marine biologist Flannery, of Dingle OceanWorld, described the little-known nursery off the Kerry coast as “a Serengeti of the Atlantic for rays and sharks”.

And as National Biodiversity Week begins, he’s calling for Tralee Bay to be designated as a marine protected area to provide a safe haven for the many species that lay their eggs there in summer months.

The Irish Mirror has more on the story HERE.

Published in Sharks

Three wildlife trusts in the north-east of England have been boosted with a £300,000 (€345,000) award from a major grantmaking charity for efforts to protect marine wildlife and habitats in the Irish Sea.

As the Chester Standard reports, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has given the five-year grant to fund staff carrying out marine policy work and promotion in the north-west region and the wider Irish Sea.

“The funding will enable us to continue our work to protect and lobby for Marine Protected Areas as well as raise awareness about issues affecting our marine life and champion the sustainable management of our seas,” said Martin Varley, operations director with the Cheshire Wildlife Trust.

The grant will also support collaborative work with fellow wildlife trusts in Lancashire and Cumbria, which have already secured public and political support for the designation of 10 Marine Conservation Zones in the Irish Sea.

The Cheshire Standard has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., today announced that he has approved a new conservation measure that will provide legal protection for v-notched crawfish. The measure received widespread support when the Minister discussed it with industry representatives during today’s meeting of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF) at the National Seafood Centre in Clonakilty, Co Cork.

The conservation measure stems from a proposal initiated by members of the fishing industry in the southwest, in consultation with the Marine Institute, which sought legal protection for crawfish v-notched under a Marine Institute project in that region. At today’s NIFF meeting, the Minister also invited the Forum members and the marine agencies to provide their views on an appropriate lead-in period for the new measure.

Commenting on the introduction of the measure, Minister Creed said, “I am pleased to announce the approval of this measure, which has the potential to support the recovery of the crawfish stock in its traditional fishery areas along the South West and West coasts. The Inshore Fisheries Forums, now five years old, continue to embrace the challenge of developing measures to support the sector on the path to long-term sustainability. I have asked my officials to draft the appropriate legal instrument to implement this measure.”

The proposal to protect v-notched crawfish was developed by the North West Kerry Shellfish Co-operative in collaboration with the Marine Institute. It arose from a scientific project carried out over the last two years by the Marine Institute and commercial fishermen targeting crawfish in the southwest. The project, funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Biodiversity Scheme, seeks biological data on crawfish and investigates crawfish migration.

The proposal was submitted to the South West Regional Inshore Fisheries Forum, which brought it forward to the NIFF for wider industry discussion. The NIFF recommended the proposal to the Minister in January.

The crawfish measure was among a range of inshore fishing issues discussed with industry representatives at the today’s NIFF meeting, which also included implementation of the Inshore Fisheries Sector Strategy as well as proposals for the mackerel hook and line fishery and the management of the landing of crab claws.

Protection of v-notched crawfish

When the legal instrument has been introduced by Minister Creed, it will prohibit Irish sea-fishing boats from landing or retaining on board v-notched crawfish. Such crawfish will need to be returned alive to the sea. It will also prohibit v-notched crawfish from being offered for sale.

A crawfish is ‘v-notched’ through the removal of a v-shaped notch from one of the flaps (known as uropods) either side of the central part of the tail (telson) of a crawfish when it is first caught. A similar provision is in place to protect v-notched lobster under S.I. No. 591 of 2014 (Lobster (Conservation of Stocks) Regulations 2014) and has proved a popular and effective stock management tool.

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

Projects for pearl mussels and conservation of breeding curlew are among the 23 schemes being carried out nationwide under the European Innovation Partnership (EIP), as highlighted in a new exhibition in Dublin.

Agriculture House on Kildare Street is currently showcasing the innovation under the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine’s EIP/locally led schemes in Ireland.

Speaking at the launch yesterday (Wednesday 17 April), Marine Minister Michael Creed said: “We are committed to building a sustainable agricultural system that respects the environment. The agriculture sector is determined to play its part in responding to the challenges before us on climate, water quality and biodiversity.

“We are investing €59m in these locally-led schemes to achieve these goals at a local level by stimulating and developing innovative new approaches to tackling environmental challenges in a targeted way. This targeted approach to specific challenges in specific areas can complement our larger national agri-environmental schemes.”

The exhibition highlights the varied works undertaken by the EIP Project groups including projects on biodiversity, organic production, pollinators, water quality, flood management, soils, farming in an archaeological landscape and targeting un-utilised agricultural biomass.

The exhibition is open to the public to visit before going nationwide to other DAFM offices for display there. Following its display in Dublin, the exhibition will be moving to the department’s office at Johnstown Castle Estate in Wexford.

Further details of the EIP and locally led schemes can be found on the DAFM website HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes
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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

© Afloat 2020

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