Source: BIM presentation at WFD National Technical Implementation Group

Norovirus impact on shellfish waters.

Norovirus comes from human sources so urban waste water and stormwater overflows are the key
significant pressure where there are impacts.

A targeted approach is needed and will need to reflect future higher standards.

NTIG discussion on the scale and type of technical characterisation work needed to identify the sources of norovirus in the catchments of the impacted waters.

LAWPRO are proposing a detailed characterisation in the catchment of the Clarinbridge Shellfish area where there are issues.

Clarinbridge Kinvarra Bay Final Characterisation Report

Clarinbridge Kinvarra Bay PRP 2012 – Updated

Clarinbridge Kinvarra Bay Final PRP

Clarinbridge Kinvarra Bay Map

Shellfish Waters: Plans to Address Water Quality Issues

Source: NTIG Minutes, March 2021

Minutes highlight a number of issues with shellfish water quality

There are gaps relating to shellfish water when compared to other protected areas and pressures on these shellfish areas is increasing” BIM

• Marine issues have been raised at ROCs and AFA workshops.
• Marine Working group established: this will progress issues locally where possible and escalate issues not solvable locally though WFD governance structures.
• There can be a lack of alignment between WFD ecological status and other indicators (e.g WFD does not look at E.coli or source of pathogens)
EPA –Protected Area Characterisation
• The EPA is taking a risk-based approach to the characterisation of Protected Areas, including bathing waters, drinking waters and shellfish waters. The risks for these protected areas are related to impacts on public health rather than ecological health, and so different data sources, models and tools are required.

• There are gaps relating to shellfish water when compared to other protected areas and pressures on these shellfish areas is increasing

DHLGH – Roadmap for the replacement of the repealed shellfish regulations
• The shellfish regulations were repealed in 2013.
• These regulations had designated 64 areas; new areas currently cannot be designated as there is no legislation to do so.
• The Marine Institute is currently monitoring these designated areas.
• A Statutory Instrument is being developed.
• DHLGH is looking at specifying monitoring and assessment requirements (threshold levels, EQSs); this will be informed by current Marine Institute work and reviewed by the national aquatic environmental chemistry working group

Carrigaholt Priority Area for Action Desktop Report


March 2020

Carrigaholt Bay is a designated Shellfish Water

Nutrients (ammonia and orthophosphate) are the significant issues impacting on water quality. Sediment is potentially a significant issue. Chloride and conductivity levels are also significantly elevated. Elevated chloride in freshwater can be an indicator of domestic sewage (or slurry) pollution

Agriculture and domestic wastewater treatments systems are the significant pressures

Village is unsewered, the river periodically floods and septic tanks overflow, putting the shellfish waters at risk

Carrigaholt requires a waste water treatment plant

Section 4s (effluent discharge licence) on Moyana upstream of the village (holiday mobile home park with over 100 mobile homes and seven holiday homes)

The second S4 licence is not operational (it was an oyster nursery)

Adrigole Priority Area for Action Desktop Report

June 2020


EPA initial characterisation predicts the significant pressure to be clear felling of forestry. Domestic
waste water treatment systems as well as agriculture may also present possible pressures.

The 2016 sanitary survey carried out by the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority suggested that potential sources of contamination include slurry spreading and domestic waste water treatment systems.

Important shellfish area

No monitoring data are available on Adrigole Harbour, it is a protected area for shellfish and so would be
sensitive to bacterial contamination. It is notable that there is another river inputting into the harbour (Cappanaparka_East_010). This is not included in the PAA but may also be a potential source of contamination, it is currently unassigned.

Sediment is affecting water quality on the Adrigole river. It is likely that sediment making its way to the
streams from multiple sources including forestry, agriculture and possibly peat harvesting. Nutrient enrichment may also be causing issues

Phytoplankton and Algal Blooms

Phytoplankton are possibly the most important group of organisms on the planet as they generate most of the oxygen that we breath. Also, as they convert inorganic nutrients and sunlight into vegetative matter, most marine food chains depend on their presence as a primary food source.

A small proportion of species produce highly potent toxins and the monitoring of these are very important to ensure food safety.

While blooms can provide more food to organisms higher up the food chain, too much phytoplankton can also do harm. Dissolved oxygen becomes rapidly depleted as the phytoplankton die, sink to the bottom and decompose. This can result in the death of other organisms including shellfish, crabs and fish.

Photo of redtide credit: Irish Air Corps

The main groups of Phytoplankton include Diatoms, Dinoflagelates, Coccolithophorids and Micro-Flagellates. Each of these groups has distinguishing features that allow specialists to identify them to species level.

The Marine Institute Phytoplankton Monitoring Programme monitors coastal waters around Ireland for phytoplankton and algal blooms on a year round basis.

The Marine Institute monitors phytoplankton under a national programme which has been in place since the 1980s. During this period, phytoplankton scientists have developed an understanding of phytoplankton populations and dynamics around the Irish coastline.

Sample HAB Bulletin


The PRIMROSE project will develop a web-portal system providing a joint front end for transnational forecasts of harmful events for the aquaculture sector. In addition to the HAB forecasting, PRIMROSE will investigate forecasts models for microbial contamination. Reporting procedures will be standardised, and partly automated for an expert evaluator to have information available to make an accurate forecast.

The Marine Institute are the project lead in PRIMROSE. This project follows on from the successful ASIMUTH project, which delivers weekly HAB’s forecast bulletins to the Irish aquaculture industry.

Further information on the PRIMROSE project is available at


ALERTOX-NET aims to develop a technology driven applied approach to make industries aware of emerging toxin issues stemming from potential environmental change, in order to ensure the delivery of better, safer seafood-products during the occurrence of naturally occurring toxicity in coastal waters.

The Marine Institute are a project partner in ALERTOX-NET

View the ALERTOX-NET website at


Enhanced biorefining methods for the production of marine biotoxins and microalgae fish feed.

MARBioFEED is a three year project supported by the First Call for Transnational Research Projects within the Marine Biotechnology ERA-NET, involving partners from Ireland (Marine Institute), Norway (Norwegian Veterinary Institute), Spain (Spanish Oceanographic Institute and Neoalgae), and Canada (National Research Council).

Project background and aims:

The quality assurance of fish and shellfish for human consumption is of paramount importance in ensuring the marketability of products from this expanding and predominantly rural sector. The global demand for fish is increasing due to an expanding population and the awareness that fish is a healthy food source. With increased pressure on land-based agriculture due to climate change, the potential for sustainable marine sourced food is growing. The industry and regulators rely heavily on analytical reference materials to guarantee safety for human health. This project will involve large-scale algal biotechnology for the production of value added products (marine biotoxin reference materials and fish feed).

Further information on the MARBioFEED project is available at and

Shellfish Stocks and Fisheries Review 2020: an assessment of selected stocks

The intention of this annual review is to present stock assessment and management advice for shellfisheries that may be subject to new management proposals or where scientific advice is required in relation to assessing the environmental impact of shellfish fisheries especially in areas designated under European Directives.

The review reflects the recent work of the Marine Institute (MI) in the biological assessment of shellfish fisheries and their interaction with the environment. The information and advice presented here for shellfish is complementary to that presented in the MI Stock Book on demersal and pelagic fisheries.

Separate treatment of shellfish is warranted as their biology and distribution, the assessment methods that can be applied to them and the system under which they are managed, all differ substantially to demersal and pelagic stocks.

Shellfish stocks are not generally assessed by The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and although they come under the competency of the Common Fisheries Policy they are generally not regulated by EU TAC and in the main, other than crab and scallop, are distributed inside the national 12 nm fisheries limit.

Management of these fisheries is within the competency of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM). A co-operative management framework introduced by the Governing Department and BIM in 2005 (Anon 2005), and under which a number of fishery management plans were developed, was, in 2014, replaced by the National and Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums (NIFF, RIFFs).

These bodies are consultative forums, the members of which are representative of the inshore fisheries sector and other stakeholder groups. The National forum (NIFF) provides a structure with which each of the regional forums can interact with each other and with the Marine Agencies, DAFM and the Minister.

Management of oyster fisheries is the responsibility of The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) implemented through Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). In many cases, however, management responsibility for oysters is devolved through Fishery Orders or Aquaculture licences to local co-operatives. The main customers for this review are DAFM, RIFFs, NIFF and other Departments and Authorities listed above

Shellfish Waters Directive Areas

The aim of the Shellfish Waters Directive is to protect or improve shellfish waters in order to support shellfish life and growth. It is designed to protect the aquatic habitat of bivalve and gastropod molluscs, which include oysters, mussels, cockles, scallops and clams. The Directive requires Member States to designate waters which need protection in order to support shellfish life and growth.