IFI Submission on Bord na Mona Submission to An Bord Pleanala for Substitute Consent (2020)

IFI submission highlights a number of important environmental issues in relation to Bord na Mona landbank

Environmental Impact Assessment Report in relation to applications by Bord na Mona for Substitute Consent for its historic peat extraction activities on 41 individual bog units and future peat extraction activities on selected individual bog units situated across Counties Offaly, Westmeath, Laois, Meath, Kildare and Longford

IFI have reviewed the maps supplied and we note that huge areas of Bord na Mona owned peatlands have not been included. Our understanding is that this EIAR relates only to 41 sites where Bord na Mona proposes continuing the harvesting of peat.

Our knowledge of a number of the Bord na Mona sites which have not been included, is that maintenance of the drainage systems of these peat extraction areas is still undertaken. These drainage maintenance schemes involve the regular excavation of significant quantities of peat and we ask why these sites were not included as part of this EIAR.

IFI concerns relating to water quality issues include:


• The WFD Ecological Status/Potential for numerous waters draining these Bord na Mona peatland areas is “Poor”, while for many the WFD Risk calculation is that they are “At Risk”.

• The WFD Characterization Reports for numerous waters draining these Bord na Mona peatland areas identifies peat extraction as a significant pressure, with organic pollution the main impact associated with peat extraction.

• To facilitate peat harvesting deep drainage channels were constructed throughout these sites. Deepening of fisheries water-courses adjacent to and downstream of peatlands was also undertaken to facilitate this peat harvesting. These significant alterations lowered the water table within surrounding peat-lands and result in the associated peat being exposed to air, facilitating the rapid breakdown of this organic matter, releasing nutrients, principally ammonia to waters.

• The drying out of the peats exacerbates the washout of peat solids to surface waters. The potential for peat particles to become windblown is exacerbated by drying out also.

• Silt settlement ponds are used extensively on Bord na Mona properties, but are likely to retain heavier suspended solids only, with limited retention of dissolved nutrients. The ability of a silt settlement pond to retain fine particles depends upon regular maintenance, as it relates to residence time within the pond and as suspended solids settle out in the pond the retention time for water within that cell and the efficiency of the system reduces significantly. The efficiencies of these ponds in relation to their retention time needs to be considered, with a specific focus upon periods of high precipitation.

• Suspended solids pollution of surface waters from working peatland areas is not limited to carryover from silt settlement ponds, but may occur as a result of direct run-off from haul roads and stockpiles of peat. Wind-blown peat is another significant source. The potential for suspended solids generation from excavations in subsoils below peat deposits should also be considered.

• To date the main water protection/mitigation measure employed by Bord na Mona at peatland sites is the use of silt ponds. Silt ponds do not address the threat of ammonia pollution from working/cut-over peatland areas.

• Peat extraction requires the drainage/pumping of waters from relatively shallow peat deposits.
Of concern to IFI is the potential that the temperatures of this drainage water may (at certain times of the year) be significantly elevated when compared to typical groundwater recharge and/or the surface waters to which it is being discharged.

• Following on from the above point, this drainage water is likely to pumped/flow through a large drainage system which may include multiple, large surface area silt settlement ponds. Given the relatively shallow depth of the silt ponds and potential for full sunlight penetration, IFI have concerns that there is potential for a significant increase in temperatures of this drainage water prior to discharge to surface waters.

• Given the important link between water temperature and biological/biochemical reactions, the temperature of drainage waters being discharged to fisheries streams/rivers is critical in that some key constituents of water, either change their form (ionization of ammonia) or alter their concentration, as with dissolved oxygen. Considering that ammonia losses from drained peatland are the principal water quality issue it is important that this issue be adequately addressed.

• These operations involve significant machinery/plant/light rail infrastructure, throughout.
Fuels/hydraulic oils/lubricants etc. have potential to pollute both surface and ground waters. IFI ask that this EIAR address the potential for surface/ground water pollution at machinery storage/repair-maintenance/refueling locations.

• The Dept. of Agriculture and the Marine document, “Land Types for Afforestation” Working Document 2016, includes former and existing industrial cutaway peatlands as an example of lands unsuitable for afforestation. Commercial afforestation on such peat deposits poses a significant environmental threat to water quality. In addition such afforestation is likely to require the bog drainage system is maintained, leading to continued ammonia run-off to surface water. A significant threat comes from forest harvesting on such sites, especially where such plantations, which are now maturing, have been established prior to the implementation of the Forest Service guidelines. IFI ask if such sites have been included in the maps relating to the 41 bog units supplied and we ask that this EIAR consider commercial afforestation on all Bord na Mona peatland sites.

• We note that a number of the sites relate to the production of peat and the processing of peat for use in horticulture. Certain aspects of this production are likely to include the addition of nutrient/minerals and other materials to peat. IFI request that the potential for contamination of ground and surface waters by such nutrients/minerals at these facilities be addressed.

• Thermal pollution from the Edenderry Power Plant is of concern to IFI. Given the important link between water temperature and biological/biochemical reactions, the temperature of cooling waters being discharged to fisheries rivers is critical in that some key constituents of water either change their form (ionization of ammonia) or alter their concentration, as with dissolved oxygen. Considering that the ammonia losses from drained peatland are the principal water quality issue and the extensive peat workings on both sides of the Figile River for some considerable distance upstream, it is important that this issue be adequately addressed.

• Relating to the above point the section of the Cushaling River (upstream of Edenderry Power Plant) in County Kildare represents some of the best salmonid habitat within the Figile catchment. This potential was underutilized because of a number of water quality issues, including run-off from peat-lands. IFI do however hope that fish stocks in this section of channel will improve significantly as a result of improvements/upgrading of Derrinturn WWTP and significant upgrades at a large industrial site, both of which were contributing to the unsatisfactory biological conditions. IFI believe that the improvements in water quality referred to above will lead to the restoration of salmon spawning in the Cushaling River, and that when this happens, these Cushaling salmon will be an important/integral component of the salmon populations of the Barrow SAC.

• The addition of biocides to cooling waters at power generation plants to prevent biofouling of their cooling systems is a widespread practice internationally. With reference to the Edenderry Power Plant IFI request that this EIAR address if such practices are undertaken at this facility.

• In relation to the above point, trihalomethanes (THMs), a large group of organic compounds are formed when organic material reacts with chlorine. Given the high organic content of the Figile River water (from which the Edenderry power plant abstracts cooling water) linked to extensive Bord na Mona peatlands through which the Figile and its tributaries flow, IFI have concerns regarding the potential for significant discharges of THMs to the Figile River. IFI request that the potential for negative impacts upon the aquatic biota of the Figile River by discharges of THMs be addressed in this EIAR.

• The potential for large scale fires on cut-over/”peatlands being worked” is significantly greater compared to sites that have not been subject to drainage/drying out or sites that have been rewetted.
IFI request that the potential for run-off of significant quantities of deleterious matter to surface waters following a large scale fire on cut-over peatland, and the likely makeup of the run-off be considered.

• The use of borrow pits/quarrying on Bord na Mona peatland sites may lower water levels within surrounding peats and act to exacerbate drying out of such peats, with an increase in release of ammonia to surface waters. Quarrying operations also represent a potential source of suspended solids pollution of surface waters.

IFI concerns relating to habitat/hydro-morphology include:

• An examination of OSI 6 & 25 inch sheets highlight significant modifications to watercourses flowing through, adjacent to and downstream of these peatland sites. The modifications noted (through both desktop checks and on-site visits) included:


o Realignment/Straightening
o Deepening
o Widening
o Culverting/piping of waters
o Construction of on-line silt ponds to facilitate commercial peat extraction.
o Differences in height where waters are lifted to facilitate drainage

• Realignment/straightening of watercourses is problematic for a number of reasons including the fact that it results in a net loss of habitat. Realignment of channels often results in a highly degraded hydro-morphology with the loss of natural sinuosity and natural instream variation characterized by the pool/glide/riffle sequence. Realignment may also negatively impact upon gravel recruitment at the realigned site and in waters downstream.

• The deepening of watercourses in, or adjacent to peatland sites, (in addition to the release of ammonia and suspended solids to surface waters) may result in the removal of all/most gravels from long stretches of fisheries waters where the excavation depth extends down to the subsoils beneath the watercourse. In such cases the potential for natural restoration in waters flowing through peatland areas is usually limited, given the relatively low gradient and other hydro-morphological issues referred to in the above point. Human intervention is likely to be necessary to facilitate recovery of the fisheries habitat on long stretches of watercourses draining peatland areas.

• The widening of watercourses, (regularly associated with realignment and deepening) often results in a highly degraded hydro-morphology with the loss of natural sinuosity and natural instream variation characterized by the pool/glide/riffle sequence. In shallow waters a braided channel with limited depth for fish to reside is often the result, while in deeper waters an overabundance of aquatic plants clogging the channel is regularly encountered.

• Culverting is potentially damaging to fisheries waters as it may (1) block/impede the free passage of fish, (2) result in a loss of fisheries habitat and (3) hinder the detection of pollution.
Our experience is that many of the culverts on Bord na Mona peatlands to facilitate the industrial light rail system are very long. The depth at which such culverts were installed also acts as a control re drying out of peats, as all peats upstream of the culvert at a higher elevation will be subject to drying out.

• Construction of on-line silt ponds results in a loss/degradation of fisheries habitat. The efficacy of any silt pond relates to residence time in the pond and as peat settles out in the pond the ability for the pond to retain peat is reduced. Because of this, these ponds are subject to regular maintenance whereby accumulated peat deposits are removed.

• Pumping operations and flow control weirs have potential to impact on both upstream and downstream fish passage, watercourse base flows and water quality. We request that this AIER address these issues.

• IFI have noted significant gradient differences on watercourses on peatland sites where water is lifted from one to the other using archimidean screws. Such practices represent a barrier to the free passage of fish.

• With reference to the Edenderry Power Plant and any other Bord na Mona industrial facility IFI request that any abstractions from surface waters and/or groundwater be considered with a focus upon potential impacts on flow rates in associated surface waters and also recharge of groundwater to surface water bodies.

• With reference to the Edenderry Power Plant and any other Bord na Mona industrial facility that includes an abstraction from surface waters, the issue of screening to prevent fish and other aquatic animals becoming entrained within the abstracted water and/or impinged upon screens should be addressed. Of particular concern is the potential for significant mortalities, where fish become trapped on screens and/or enter cooling water systems. Numerous factors influence the likelihood of fish mortality at/in such sites including, but not limited to:


o Flow velocity in the vicinity of screen
o Rate of abstraction relative to total flow in river/flow attraction
o Screen spacing
o Size of fish resident and migrating through the location
o Potential for screens to become clogged which is likely to increase flow velocities in the vicinity of screen
o Angle of the screen
o Surface area of the screen

• IFI consider that any abstraction should protect all age classes of all fish species resident within the area of the abstraction or likely to migrate through that section of watercourse.

IFI is keen to build on recent water quality improvements in the Black River, which drains 21% of the Barrow River catchment and to restore and increase populations of salmon over large sections of this system while the Shannon Salmon Restoration Project is a key IFI project is committed to the restoration of sustainable stocks of salmon throughout the Shannon Catchment. Large areas of the catchments of the above named rivers are dominated by Bord na Mona peatlands.


Habitat restoration in rivers such as Inny, Brosna, Figile and Philipstown Rivers will be central to these plans.

Many of the watercourses draining directly from Bord na Mona peatland sites have small catchment areas with limited flows, and should be regarded as highly sensitive to anthropogenic inputs/alteration.
Other larger and important fisheries watercourses flow through, adjacent to and downstream of the Bord na Mona sites and while many of these represent excellent fisheries habitat, in many cases the habitat of these watercourses has been degraded by deepening/widening, realignment and silt deposition.


IFI request that this EIAR examine the hydro-morphological damage to watercourses outside the boundary of the boundary of the Bord na Mona sites.

We request that the applicant address the root causes of the elevated ammonia concentrations in surface waters/pumped waters from their peatland sites.

IFI welcome the Bord na Mona, Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2021 statement that “the main aim of rehabilitation will be to re-wet former production areas as much as possible to maximize the benefits for biodiversity and carbon”.

Yours sincerely,
Donnachadh Byrne
Senior Fisheries Environmental Officer


Please note that any further correspondence regarding this matter should be addressed to

Senior Fisheries Environmental Officer, Inland Fisheries Ireland, 3044 Lake Drive,
Citywest Business Campus, Dublin 24

IFI submission starts on Page 13 of the submissions document:

Wicklow Bridges Project – Assessment of the risk of barriers to migration of fish species in County Wicklow

IFI Report (2012)

To carry out an ecological survey of a selection of Culverts and Bridges in the County for which there are most likely to be fish/mammal passage problems or other impediments for wildlife.

Conclusions

Context

Where barriers impede or block access of migratory fish to large portions of catchments a direct reduction in the production potential of these systems results. Biodiversity and associated economic value suffer as a result.

• European Eel stocks are currently outside safe biological limits – obstacles to migration in river systems were identified as one of several factors causing this dramatic decline.

• Species such as the Atlantic salmon, River Lamprey and Sea Lamprey are listed under Annex IIa and Va of the Habitats Directive. The Habitats Directive defines certain types of natural habitat and certain species which are seriously threatened as having priority in order to favour the early implementation of measures to protect them.

• The Standing Scientific Committee on Salmon’s report The Status of Irish Salmon Stocks in 2011 with precautionary Catch Advice for 2012, includes information on Irish salmon stocks, the current status of these stocks relative to the objective of meeting biologically referenced “Conservation Limits” and the catch advice which will allow for a sustainable harvest of salmon in 2012 and into the future. According to this report a number of Wicklow Rivers are failing to achieve their Conservation limits, these include the Avoca, Slaney, Vartry, Liffey and Dargle.

• “In Ireland, the Water Framework Directive Freshwater Morphology Programme of Measures and Standards identified barriers to fish migration as one of the principal issues placing channels “at risk” in terms of failing to achieve good or high status as required under WFD” (Gargan et al, 2011).

Wicklow Bridges Project Findings

• Assessments undertaken as part of the Wicklow Bridges Project confirmed numerous impediments to fish passage on watercourses throughout County Wicklow. The scale of the problem in the Avoca catchment alone is highlighted in Figure 4. This map demonstrates that approximately 50% of the entire catchment is potentially impaired (fish migration partially or fully blocked).

• The assessments undertaken through the Wicklow Bridges project represent an important step in the process of establishing a comprehensive baseline of barriers to fish passage in the Eastern and South Eastern River Basin Districts.

• We believe that the works recently undertaken at Mullyclagh Bridge, (Figures 15-17) demonstrate a relatively simple solution to fish passage issues at most existing scour protection aprons. We understand that the cost of the works undertaken at the Mullyclagh Bridge site were in the region of €5000. We would be hopeful that many of the fish passage issues highlighted at smaller bridge and culvert sites could be rectified with similar solutions when routine bridge repairs/maintenance operations are being carried out by relevant authorities (Wicklow County Council or the National Roads Authority).

• The size and scale of the works required for the provision of solutions to fish passage issues at larger bridge/weir/dam sites means that the associated costs are likely to be far higher and unlikely to be included within the budget of bridge maintenance/repair works. The costs associated with larger projects mean that these works will often require specific funding which in many cases may be prohibitive.

IFI Board

Inland Fisheries Ireland

Legal basis: Inland Fisheries Act 2010, Chapter 1
Maximum Number of Positions: 10
Gender Balance Numbers: Female (4), Male (6)
Gender Balance Percentage: Female (40%), Male (60%)
Notes: The CEO of IFI is an ex officio member. Three members (including the Chair) are nominated by the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications’. One member is nominated by the Minister for Rural and Community Development’. One member is nominated by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage’. One member is elected by employees of IFI. Term of office: 5 years

NameFirst AppointedReappointedExpiry DatePosition typeBasis of appointment
Bernadette Orbinski Burke01/07/201601/07/202130/06/2024Board MemberMinisterial (PAS Process)
Dr Frances Lucy24/03/201507/12/202006/12/2023Board MemberNomination of Joint Oireachtas Committee
Fintan Gorman10/09/201310/09/201809/09/2023ChairAppointed as Chair by the Minister on 01/07/2015.
Fiona Walsh12/07/201911/07/2024Board MemberPAS Process
Marie Louise Heffernan01/05/201930/04/2024Board MemberNomination of Joint Oireachtas Committee
Michael McGreal22/03/201921/03/2024Board MemberPAS Process
Mr Francis O’Donnell02/11/202001/11/2025CEOEx officio
Mr Patrick Gibbons13/01/201616/02/202115/02/2024Board MemberNomination of Joint Oireachtas Committee
Seamus Boland22/03/201921/11/2022Board MemberPAS Process
Sean Coady17/11/201507/12/202006/12/2023Board MemberStaff Representative (as per Section 13 of the Inland Fisheries Act 2010)

Fish Kill Data (IFI Dataset)

Fish Kill Data is being nationally compiled and going through the QA process now by the research department at IFI

Data will then be uploaded on IFI website as an interactive GIS map. However, it won’t be ready until Q1 2022

Note: requested 2020 / 2021 data in advance of the full file being released in GIS format (11/11/2021)

These are fish kills (2019-2020) that IFI are aware of. IFI research department is compiling GIS data on all fish kills, and will forward when complete.

Related Media Coverage:

https://www.rte.ie/news/leinster/2019/0624/1057275-silage-fish/

https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40349645.html

https://www.thejournal.ie/fish-killed-in-cork-river-4789869-Aug2019/

https://www.independent.ie/news/environment/probe-into-serious-fish-kill-as-hundreds-of-salmon-and-trout-wiped-out-on-glore-river-in-kiltimagh-40819983.html

https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/munster/arid-40342916.html

https://www.offalyexpress.ie/news/home/627444/fish-kill-on-offaly-river-prompts-ifi-to-request-voluntary-turbine-shutdown.html

https://www.fisheriesireland.ie/news/notices/fish-kill-confirmed-on-river-ilen-in-skibbereen-west-cork-media-statement

Note: you can report pollution or poaching 24 hours a day top IFI on phone 1890 34 74 24

Quantifying the contribution of sea lice from aquaculture to declining annual returns in a wild Atlantic salmon population

Atlantic salmon Salmo salar has shown declines in abundance associated with reduced survival during marine life stages.

Key impacts on survival may include a changing ocean environment and salmon louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis infestation from aquaculture. A 26 yr record from the Erriff River (Western Ireland) was used to evaluate the contribution of sea lice from salmon aquaculture to declining returns of wild 1 sea-winter (1SW) salmon. Statistical models suggested that returns were >50% lower in years following high lice levels on nearby salmon farms during the smolt out-migration.

The long-term impact of salmon lice was explored by applying predicted annual loss rates as a multiplier to observed 1SW salmon returns. This produced a ‘lice-corrected’ return time series, i.e. an estimate of how returns might have looked in the absence of a serious aquaculture lice impact. The corrected time series was adjusted to account for some reduction in recruitment due to lost spawners.

Comparing observed and lice-corrected time series suggested that salmon lice have strongly reduced annual returns of 1SW Erriff salmon, but that the salmon lice impact does not explain a declining trend in this population.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316684886_Quantifying_the_contribution_of_sea_lice_from_aquaculture_to_declining_annual_returns_in_a_wild_Atlantic_salmon_population

Changes in growth and migration patterns of sea trout before and after the introduction of Atlantic salmon farming

Marine growth has strong implications for reproductive potential and ultimate fitness of sea trout.

Hence, the effects of anthropogenic factors on marine growth are important when evaluating population responses and implementing management measures.

Temporal changes in growth patterns of sea trout from three Norwegian and two Irish watercourses were examined, covering time spans of 25-65 years. Elemental chemistry Ba:Ca profiles and visual reading of fish scales were used to estimate smolt length and lifetime growth after first sea entry. Reduced growth after the first sea entry coincided with periods of nearby (<14 km) salmon-farming activity in impacted watersheds in both countries. Increased Ba:Ca levels were also recorded during these periods, likely indicating reduced residency in marine habitats caused by premature return to freshwater and estuaries.

An increase in estimated length at first sea entry coinciding with salmon-farming activity, for groups of fish sampled after sea migration, suggests a size-selective marine mortality, with the smallest individuals experiencing a larger mortality.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/344297227_Changes_in_growth_and_migration_patterns_of_sea_trout_before_and_after_the_introduction_of_Atlantic_salmon_farming

System-specific salmon louse infestation thresholds for salmon farms to minimize impacts on wild sea trout populations

Samuel Shephard Paddy Gargan

Salmon lice from aquaculture can cause negative impacts on sea trout Salmo trutta and other wild salmonids.

Long-term records from 5 Irish rivers were used to explore relationships between annual sea trout runs and the estimated total number of lice on nearby salmon farms. It was hypothesised that local environmental conditions may result in system-specific differences in realised louse pressure on sea trout. Louse count was thus tested as an absolute number and as a relative pressure, i.e. standardised by farm.

When the standardised total number of mobile lice on a given salmon farm in April was above ‘baseline’ level (50th percentile of observed annual values on that farm), there was a high probability of a below average sea trout run in the local river. Absolute louse counts did not show an important effect on runs.

This finding suggests that salmon farm louse production in spring can have a strong system-specific regulating effect on wild sea trout populations.

Total number of lice on a farm was most strongly driven by changes in individual infestation rate, with a lesser effect of stocking density.

Thresholds for number of mobile lice per farmed salmon required to maintain total louse count below the baseline varied with stocking density and among systems; greater density required lower infestation rate.

Regulations relying on a generic louse threshold to trigger treatment are not sufficient to protect sea trout populations – stocking density and site characteristics must be considered to evaluate system-specific infestation pressure and impacts on wild salmonids.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/353189370_System-specific_salmon_louse_infestation_thresholds_for_salmon_farms_to_minimize_impacts_on_wild_sea_trout_populations

Impact of Mink on Irish Rivers

A review of mink predation and control for Ireland

Click to access IWM40.pdf

Mink farmers representatives to Oireachtas Committee

Click to access 2021-07-15_opening-statement-sven-sjoholm-et-al_en.pdf

Mink farms to get €4m to €8m compensation from State 

Minister for Agriculture has brought memo to Cabinet to prohibit fur farming

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/mink-farms-to-get-4m-to-8m-compensation-from-state-1.4705077?localLinksEnabled=false

Why trapping a mink could help save curlews and corncrakes

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/another-life-why-trapping-a-mink-could-help-save-curlews-and-corncrakes-1.2698598

Mink Control (BASC Guide)

Click to access Mink-Control-Document-BASC.pdf

Buying and using mink traps

https://www.maceoinltd.com/news/news-25/Mink-Traps-for-Sale-In-Ireland.#.YW_MtCR4WEc

IFI Citizen Science Projects

Tagged Fish

Have you caught a tagged fish?

Inland Fisheries Ireland regularly tags eels, bass, sea trout and elasmobranchs. 

Take a photo, measure the fish, weigh or estimate its weight, record the tag number and then let the fish go.

Tell IFI in as much detail as possible where you caught it, including the time and date and fishing method used to catch it.

Send an email with the information to the relevant email below.

Tagging

Join our tagging team to tag elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays) and bass. Anglers who regularly catch these species can be trained and equipped for tagging by staff at Inland Fisheries Ireland. Our Marine Sportfish Tagging Programme has been running for 50 years and has tagged over 40,000 fish, providing fantastic information on the distribution and movement patterns of 15 different species.

Who do I contact?

Email info@fisheriesireland.ie

For more information, the Marine Sportfish Tagging Programme and Tagging and Telemetry.

Tagged Bass

Have you caught a tagged bass?

Please look out for tagged bass and report any you find. Take a photo, measure the fish, weigh or estimate its weight, record the tag number and let it go. Tell us in as much detail as possible where you caught it, including the time and date and fishing method used to catch it. Send an email with the information to the relevant email below.

Who do I contact?

Email Bass@fisheriesireland.ie

For more information, National Bass Programme and Tagging and Telemetry.

Salmon / Trout Scale Samples

Have you caught an adult salmon or trout?

If you are lucky enough to catch an adult Atlantic salmon, sea trout, brown trout or ferox trout, IFI would love to hear from you

You can help IFI learn a little bit about the fish, its growth rate and its age by taking scale samples from the area shown below in the diagram.

Using a sharp knife, gently but firmly scrape about 5 to 10 scales in a head-to-tail direction. This may be done two or three times in rapid succession on the left side of the fish. Scales can be rubbed off the knife on the inside of a small envelope and sent in to us.

Who do I contact?

Research Division, Inland Fisheries Ireland, 3044 Lake Drive, Citywest Business Campus, Dublin, D24 Y265. 

For more information, visit the National Salmon Scale Project and on Fish Ageing Techniques.

Diagram of how to take a scale sample from a salmonid.

Have you seen any lamprey spawning activity?

River and brook lampreys spawn in March–April in shallow, moderately-flowing gravelled areas of rivers and streams. If spawning is occurring, you are most likely to see a ‘freshening’ of areas in the gravels, with loosened gravels of a lighter colour than the surrounding river bed.

River lamprey nests, or redds, are identified by oval or circular scrapings in the gravels of up to 40cm in diameter. Brook lamprey nests are smaller, often only a few centimetres wide and long. Lampreys are often present in the nests, even during the day, with numbers varying anything between 2 and 20 individuals.

Brook lamprey and river lamprey are sometimes seen spawning in the same location, but they can be told apart by their size: brook lampreys are about 10–12cm in length, but river lampreys are bigger, measuring about 25–30cm in length.

Sea lampreys are easily distinguished from river and brook lampreys as they are much larger, around 60–90cm in length, and have a mottled brown and black colour. They spawn in May–July, which is later than brook and river lampreys, in the gravels and cobbles of shallow, fast-flowing sections of rivers. They often spawn in areas that are used by spawning salmon and trout.

Sea lamprey nests are large structures, over 1m wide and up to 50cm deep, often visible from the bank. Look for a mound of freshly turned gravels of a lighter colour than the surrounding river bed and a bowl-like depression immediately upstream of it. Nests are often found in clusters just downstream of weirs.

For more information, visit the Red Data Book Species.

If you spot any lamprey spawning activity, please let IFI know:

  • the exact location (preferably with GPS  coordinates)
  • the date of the sighting
  • the number of nests
  • the number of lampreys
  • the approximate lengths of the lampreys (this helps us identify the species, sea, river or brook lampreys)

If possible, use a mobile phone to take a photo showing the nest and its location in the river.

Who do I contact?

lamprey@fisheriesireland.ie

Proposed conservation byelaw prohibiting angling for Arctic Char

Inland Fisheries Ireland is seeking submissions from interested parties in relation to the proposed introduction of a conservation byelaw prohibiting angling for, killing or retention of Arctic Char (Salvelinus alpinus) from any waters of the State. 

The proposal currently under consideration is: 

to request the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, to introduce a conservation byelaw prohibiting any person from taking, or attempting to take, an Arctic Char (Salvelinus alpinus), by means of any fishery engine or rod and line from the waters of the State and to prohibit killing, retention or possession of Arctic Char.

https://www.fisheriesireland.ie/news/public-consultations/proposed-conservation-byelaw-prohibiting-angling-for-arctic-char

Additional Note about the Arctic Char

The Arctic Char is a glacial relict fish species, native to Ireland, which is currently classified in the Irish Red Data Book as vulnerable due to a range of anthropogenic and environmental pressures such as water abstraction, eutrophication, climate change and introduction of non-native fish species.

More information about the Arctic Char can be found on Inland Fisheries Ireland’s website here