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Displaying items by tag: water quality

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has noted with caution the findings from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) report on water quality in 2017.

While it welcomes the fact that the number of fish kills in Irish waters were at a historic low last year, IFI is calling for continued awareness of water quality issues in light of the EPA’s conclusion that water quality is once again in decline.

According to this latest report, there was 14 fish kills in 2017, affecting 7.8km of river with 2,123 dead fish recovered. This is significantly lower than the worst years of 1987 and 1989 when there were more than 100 fish kills reported.

IFI’s Environmental Officers carried out 26,000 environmental inspections last year across agricultural sites, habitats, industrial sites, wastewater and water treatment plants, civil engineering sites and forestry sites.

Despite the positive drop in serious pollution events causing fish mortalities, IFI remains concerned about the reduction of water quality, with the EPA reporting a 3% drop in river water quality since 2016 and a 0.6% loss in high-quality river sites.

The inland fisheries and sea angling resource contributes €836 million to the Irish economy every year and supports 11,000 jobs in rural communities.

“Ireland has some of the best wild fisheries in Europe and while water quality in Ireland still compares favourably with our European neighbours. The current decline is a source of concern as any impact on the quality of our waters can have a negative impact on the freshwater fisheries resource,” said IFI chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne.

“Not only is the quality of our natural environment and aquatic habitat inextricably linked to the appeal of Ireland as an angling and holiday destination, it is also a very important source of wellbeing for our people.

“It is essential that we protect and conserve our freshwater assets, meaning our rivers and lakes. The long-term conservation of the resource requires maintenance of healthy and ecologically viable ecosystems.

“That means that we need to prioritise monitoring and protecting water quality as well as dealing with other issues such as removing fish migration barriers, improving practices which cause physical changes to fisheries habitat, dealing with changes in water quantity and controlling the spread of invasive species,” Dr Byrne added.

Published in Inland Waterways

#Toxic - Pet owners have been advised to be vigilant over an outbreak of toxic blue-green ‘algae’ in a Killarney lake, as The Irish Times reports.

Lough Leane has been signposted by Kerry County Council over the presence of Cyanobacteria that has turned the waters a soupy pea-green colour.

A number of dogs died after exposure to the bacteria during a previous bloom on the lake shore in 2016.

Suspected similar cases have also been reported at Lough Mask as well as waterways further east, including Ballymore Eustace on the River Liffey.

Meanwhile, scientists at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology are preparing to use drones to test the water quality of lakes on the West Coast.

GMIT’s Marine and Freshwater Research Centre has secured €132,000 in funding from the EPA for the scheme that will allow for real-time feedback of camera images and data.

Licensed drone pilots will work with lake biologists and water scientists on the two-year project, part of Ireland’s mandate under the EU’s Water Framework Directive.

The Irish Times has more on this story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways

#CoastalNotes - Seven beaches in Dublin and Galway have failed to meet the EU’s minimum standards for bathing water quality.

That’s according to the latest Bathing Water Quality in Ireland report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which identifies Sandymount and Merrion Strands, Loughshinny, Portrane and Rush South in Co Dublin, as well as Ballyloughane in Galway city and Clifden in the west of the county, as problem areas.

Three of the Dublin beaches are repeat offenders, with Merrion and Loughshinny marked as ‘poor’ in the previous two reports, while Portrane was listed among 2016’s worst bathing spots.

Galway fares a little better in 2017’s report, with Trá na bhForbacha upgraded to ‘vulnerable’ — though it, along with Clifden and Ballyloughane, remains at the mercy of pollution from runoff, septic discharges and the like.

Pollution events were also up in 2017, with 163 incident notices issues by local authorities — almost double the total recorded the previous year. Twelve of these notices resulted in bathing restrictions at Merrion and Sandymount Strands alone.

On a more positive note, 93% or 132 of the 142 bathing areas surveyed for the 2017 report meet the EU minimum for swimming water quality.

Nationally, bathing water standards are on par with last year’s report, which found almost three-quarters of Irish swimming spots met the EU’s strict bar for ‘excellent’ water quality.

The full EPA report is available to read or download HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#CoastalNotes - Three beaches in Dublin and three in Galway have failed to meet the minimum standards for bathing water quality, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Irish Times covers the latest EPA Report on Bathing Water Quality, which listed repeat offenders Ballyloughane in Co Galway and Dublin’s Merrion Strand and Loughshinny, along with Portrane in North Co Dublin and Galway’s Clifden and Trá na bhForbacha as beaches especially vulnerable to pollution.

Youghal’s front strand, Duncannon in Wexford and the south beach at Rush in Co Dublin, which were listed as ‘poor’ in last year’s report, showed enough improvement in their bathing water quality to be classified as ‘sufficient’.

Overall, almost three-quarters of Ireland’s bathing spots — both coastal and inland — were classified as having ‘excellent’ water quality.

The Irish Times has more on the story, while the full EPA report on Ireland’s bathing water quality can be found HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Angling - Continued vigilance on Ireland’s rivers and lakes is required, says Ireland’s inland fisheries body, as a new report indicates a substantial loss in the number of highest quality river sites.

According to the latest State of the Environment Report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only 21 sites were classified as the highest quality rivers (0.7% of sites) in most recent monitoring period (2013-2015). This compares with 575 sites between 1987-1990 and 82 sites between 2001-2003.

In addition, 18% of monitored rivers and 27% of monitored lakes were defined as ‘less than good status’ due to fish ecological status as monitored reported on by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

Preliminary assessment suggests that barriers to fish migration and physical deterioration of habitats may be partly to blame.

Between 2010 and 2012, there were also 70 fish kills reported. However serious pollution of rivers has fallen to just over 6km compared to 17km in 2010-2012 and 53km in 2007-2009.

“We need to protect our fish populations and conserve our resource for the next generation,” said IFI chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne on the new report, adding that Ireland’s fisheries resource “is worth €836 million annually to the Irish economy and supports over 11,000 jobs often in rural and peripheral communities.

“We have over 273,000 domestic anglers currently in Ireland and in 2015, 163,000 international visitors fished here. Angling and the fisheries resource, if developed in a conservation focused manner, offers huge recreational and economic potential for Ireland now and into the future.

“We have some of the best wild fisheries in Europe and water quality in Ireland still compares favourably with our European neighbours. However, the dramatic reduction in the number of our pristine rivers is a wake-up call which we need to address.”

Published in Angling

#BathingQuality - Six Irish coastal beaches – half of them in the Greater Dublin Area – fall short of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) minimum required standard for water quality.

Rush's south beach and Loughshinny in north Co Dublin joined Merrion Strand in south Dublin, Youghal's front strand in Co Cork, Duncannon in Wexford and Ballyloughane in Co Galway in the list of bathing areas classed as being of 'Poor' quality in the EPA's Bathing Water Quality in Ireland report for 2015.

The EPA explains that the 'Poor' class, which averages data collected between 2012 and 2015, reflects bathing areas that "may be subject to more frequent, or more significant, pollution events" often impacted by "nearby sewage discharges, most commonly as a result of heavy rainfall".

All six beaches on the current 'Poor' list showed improvement in the last year, recording a number of 'Excellent' scores in 2015, but pollution concerns remain.

And in the case of Merrion Strand, bird droppings from seagulls congregating in the area are a serious issue, as they carry as much as 10 times the bacteria of human waste.

Overall, bathing quality in Irish waters remains "very high", according to the report, with just over 93% of sites meeting the minimum EU standards.

Three-quarters of these – 101 of the 137 areas monitored - were classed as being 'Excellent', with the counties of Clare, Kerry, Leitrim and Louth standing apart with unblemished records for their bathing quality.

The complete EPA bathing water quality report is available to read or download HERE.

Sandymount swimming baths built in 1883.
Published in Coastal Notes

#CoastalNotes - 'Poisonous parsnips' on Co Antrim coastal beaches have prompted warnings to dog owners, as BelfastLive reports.

Warning signs were put up at Ballygally, Carnfunnock and Drains Bay earlier this month after locals found evidence of hemlock water dropwort roots, which are extremely toxic to animals – particularly at this time of year.

It's thought that the plant is previously responsible for the death of at least one dog that tried to eat one at Drains Bay in 2014.

In other recent news from Northern Ireland, a seal spotted swimming in the River Lagan has been hailed as a sign of its good water quality.

Video of what appears to be a grey seal happily bobbing along upstream near the Ormeau Embankment was captued by Belfast man Brendan McNeice, who thought the sight "unusual".

But marine wildlife expert Tanya Singleton told UTV News that seals swimming so far up the river is actually a regular occurrence – and a good sign for the waterway's health as they chase booming fish stocks as far as Lisburn.

Published in Coastal Notes

#CoastalNotes - Ireland gets an 'A' for seaside bathing, as 94% of beaches have met the EU's new stricter water quality standards.

And as RTÉ News reports, three out of every four Irish beaches have been rated as 'excellent' on the new scale for levels of microbiological contaminants, which is "twice as strict" as in previous years.

But seven out of 136 bathing places monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2014 still failed the test.

Youghal in Cork, Clifden and Ballyloughane in Galway, Rush's south beach in North Co Dublin, Duncannon in Wexford, Ardmore in Waterford and Liliput on Lough Ennell in the Midlands were all rated 'poor', for the most part due to wastewater discharges.

Ten other popular seaside spots – including Trá na mBan in Spiddal and the beaches at Merrion Strand, Loughshinny and Balbriggan's front strand in Co Dublin - were rated as 'sufficient' as they are still prone to periodic pollution episodes, according to The Irish Times.

But there was good news for the denizens of Trá Inis Oirr in Galway Bay, which scored an 'excellent' rating in its first year on the EPA's list.

The Aran Islands beach was added in the same year that nearby Trá gCaorach became a first-time winner in the National Green Coast Awards.

The EPA's Splash website maps out the latest bathing quality ratings for beaches around and throughout Ireland. The agency's report on bathing quality in 2014 can be found HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#MarineScience - The final report for Biological Effects and Chemical Measurements in Irish Marine Waters has just been published after four years of collaborative research led by Trinity College Dublin in partnership with the Marine Institute, Shannon Aquatic Toxicity Laboratory (Enterprise Ireland) and Dublin Institute of Technology.

The marine environment is affected by a complex mixture of man-made and naturally-occurring substances derived from a variety of sources such as shipping, sewage or industrial discharges or through accidental or historic spills of hazardous substances.

“Current monitoring and assessment of the pollution status of the marine environment in Ireland is mainly reliant on chemical measurements of contaminants in sediments, water and in 'bio-indicator' species," said Prof Jim Wilson of TCD. 

"The success of this pilot project is that it reports the first major Irish study that examined both pollutant levels in the coastal environment while concurrently assessing the potential for biological-based effects on organisms exposed to these often hazardous substances."

Drawing on diverse expertise provided by a number of Government and academic research institutions, the study completed testing of a variety of chemical and biological-based monitoring tools in diverse coastal locations in Dublin, Wexford, Cork, Kerry, Clare and Galway.

The project confirmed that Irish coastal water quality is generally good, with the most elevated pollutant levels detected typically at more populated locations subject to greater impacts and pressures.

Lower pollutant levels were generally evident in less populated areas where diffuse pollution rather than local sources are of greater relevance.

In isolation, chemical measurement studies do not always explain the potential of the pressures that affect the ecosystem as a whole. The findings of this report note that using a suite of biological effects as part of an integrated approach to support chemical measurements gives a better overview of the health of our marine ecosystem.

For example, chemical compounds and mixtures present in the environment in combination with natural changes in the ocean, such as salinity or temperature, can all work in synergy or against each other to elicit diverse effects on the marine environment and on resident marine species.

“Individual pollutants or a mix of chemicals can cause metabolic disorders, increases in diseases becoming more common, as well as having an adverse effect on population growth and on species reproduction potential," said Dr Michelle Giltrap of TCD. 

"An example of this is the reproductive effects on dog whelks, which were affected by the legacy of exposure to the biocide Tributyltin (TBT). TBT was widely used as an effective antifoulant on the hulls of ships and boats to prevent growth of aquatic organisms. Although use of TBT has been phased out internationally, the effects are still evident, but have been diminishing over time."

Dr Brian Donlon, who manages the Environmental Protection Agency's Research Programme, said “ongoing international commitments under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive require that member states monitor pollution in their marine waters by assessing both the level of chemical contamination and the effects of this contamination on organisms.

"Continued research and monitoring is required in order to further develop the dedicated chemical measurement and ecotoxicological response datasets.”

Dr Brendan McHugh of the Marine Institute added: “Integrated biological effects and chemical monitoring, including use of the novel tools, offer the potential for a more ecologically oriented approach to pollution monitoring and for further enhancing and supporting management actions in maintaining a sustainable marine environment."

The full report is available HERE on the Marine Institute’s Open Access Repository. The research project and was carried out under the Sea Change Strategy and the Marine Sub-Programme of the National Development Plan 2007-2013, and was jointly funded by the EPA and the Marine Institute.

Published in Marine Science

#CoastalNotes - The vast majority of Irish beaches are fit for bathing, according to the latest figures from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

But as The Irish Times reports, any bathing spots that fail to meet the EU's minimum requirements in future will be closed for an entire season.

Of the 135 bathing places assessed by the EPA over the past 12 months, just four were rated as 'poor' quality.

Two of these were in Co Galway - Ballyloughane in Galway city, which experienced two pollution incidents; and Clifden, which "continues to be subject to episodic pollution" after it was identified among 40 towns nationwide still discharging raw sewage, though work is ongoing to upgrade the local treatment plant.

Some 114 bathing spots were rated 'good', and would have been rated higher if not for low but persistent bacterial levels in some East Coast waters.

Nationwide, the EPA's verdict is that better wastewater management practices have resulted in improving standards, maintaining Ireland's position as "one of the best countries in northern Europe" for water quality.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes
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