#Angling - Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and the Office of Public Works (OPW) Flood Risk Management Unit have signed a new shared service agreement which will see them continue collaborate over the next five years in the protection of fishery requirements while carrying out flood risk management activities.
The agreement will see both parties work closely together to help ensure the country’s statutory drainage objectives are achieved, with a focus on the protection of fishery habitats and resources.
The OPW is the lead statutory body for drainage maintenance and flood risk management (FRM) in the State, while IFI is the statutory body responsible for the protection and conservation of the inland fisheries resource.
The agreement, which spans from 2018 until 2022, has been secured at a time when Government investment in flood risk management operations is increasing.
It follows the recent publication of the Government’s Flood Risk Management Plans which will see some €1 billion in funding under the National Development Plan invested in projects across the country to mitigate flood risk.
This new partnership formalises the historical working relationship between the IFI and the OPW and commits them to continuing their positive engagement for Ireland’s fishery habitats and resources.
Under the agreement, both parties will work across the Environmental River Enhancement Programme (EREP) and will focus on:
A series of scientific investigations to further understand environmental impacts of river maintenance works.
Development of best practice to minimise environmental impacts and maximise environmental gain of river maintenance and flood relief activities.
Work programmes to identify barriers to fish passage on arterially drained rivers that have potential for improvements works.
Work elements to assist achieving so that all waters will attain ‘Good’ ecological status by a specified date, as per the Water Framework Directive.
The aim is to provide a science-based platform to the IFI-OPW links. For example, scientific investigations will provide an evidence base for determining the appropriateness or otherwise of undertaking physical river enhancement works in locations to bring about improved Ecological Quality Ratio (EQR) scores.
Facilitated by IFI surveys, an EQR will be generated for the fish community and the physical form of the river at each site. This will inform all requests to OPW from third parties, such as angling clubs or community groups, to undertake such works. IFI will be taking a prioritised approach in undertaking surveys and could handle a small number of cases annually.
“We are delighted to re-engage with the OPW and continue to foster the high levels of understanding of fishery requirements within flood risk management activities while also ensuring statutory drainage objectives are realised. Together, we will secure the future of our rich natural fisheries resource,” said Suzanne Campion, IFI’s head of business development.
John Curtin, director of engineering services with the OPW, added: “This agreement is a proactive one in terms of delivering environmental gain, while still balancing the drainage/flood relief functions for our communities and demonstrates how two public authorities working in partnership can achieve more that the organisations could working individually.”