There are eight river catchments in the Irish Pearl Mussel Project. These catchments were selected due to their importance in supporting the largest remaining freshwater pearl mussel populations in Ireland and Western Europe.
European freshwater pearl mussel populations have declined by 90% over the past century. In Ireland, 27 freshwater pearl mussel populations are protected within Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). Eight of these populations contain 80% of the total Irish freshwater pearl mussel population, and are known as the ‘Top 8 catchments’. While the ‘Top 8 catchments’ have some of the highest remaining numbers of freshwater pearl mussels in Ireland, these populations are also undergoing a slow decline, and face extinction unless action is taken.
A summary of each of the river catchments:
Biodiversity Ireland Map of all pearl mussel locations