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Displaying items by tag: Loughs Agency

The Loughs Agency said it was delighted to welcome Charlie McConalogue, Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, to its zone at the Foyle Maritime Festival recently.

The minister was able to spend some time with the staff and experience the agency’s ‘Marine Machine’, which featured a critters’ pond, biodiversity area and a life-size basking shark.

Among the critters were crabs and a lobster, while the biodiversity area highlighted some of the hidden hazards that can be found within our catchments and beyond.

The Loughs Agency also debuted its ‘VR Experience’ at the maritime festival. The short video took users on a journey along the River Foyle past the Craigavon and Peace Bridges before diving underwater where the famous ‘Dopey Dick’ whale and a basking shark awaited.

Minister McConalogue said: “I had great pleasure visiting the Foyle Maritime Festival and had the opportunity to attend the Loughs Agency zone at the festival and meet the team.

“The Marine Machine and VR Experience are very impressive in promoting the importance of conservation and development of the fisheries and marine resources of the Foyle and Carlingford catchments.

“It was great to see the family-focused activities provided by Loughs Agency based on the River Foyle, ensuring enjoyment for the whole family.”

Loughs Agency interim chief executive Sharon McMahon added: “Firstly, on behalf of the Agency I'd like to extend a huge thank you to the minister for taking the time to come and visit our zone. It was a great opportunity to showcase our contribution to the Foyle Maritime Festival and we thoroughly enjoyed having Mr McConalogue as our guest.

“It was also brilliant to be able to highlight our ongoing work in providing sustainable social, economic and environmental benefits through the effective conservation, management, promotion and development of the fisheries and marine resources of the Foyle and Carlingford areas.

“The Marine Machine and VR experience are just the latest in a long line of projects for Loughs Agency, particularly when it comes to promoting positive biodiversity.”

Published in Maritime Festivals

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) says it is investigating a recent fish kill incident recorded on the Ballinagh River in Co Cavan.

Environmental and fisheries officers from the North-Western River Basin District were alerted to the incident by a member of the public on the evening of Tuesday 19 July.

Water samples were taken at the location and removed for scientific analysis.

The State agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats estimates that in excess of 150 fish were killed in the incident, including brown trout, stickleback and minnow.

IFI adds that as investigations are ongoing, it is not in a position to comment on the cause of the fish kill at this stage, pending further analysis of samples taken.

Dr Milton Matthews, director of the North-Western River Basin District with IFI acknowledged the ongoing support of the public in reporting suspected cases of water pollution and fish kills.

“We are grateful to the member of the public who reported this incident to us so promptly, which enabled our team to take immediate action and start our investigation without delay,” he said.

“Early notice is very often critical in determining the underlying cause of fish kill events, such as this one on the Ballinagh River.”

Members of the public are encouraged to call IFI’s new confidential 24-hour hotline number on 0818 34 74 24 to report any sightings of fish kills or suspected water pollution.

Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, the Loughs Agency has confirmed a fish kill on the River Mourne in Strabane, Co Tyrone where a number of dead adult salmon were discovered in the river’s lower stretch.

“Fishery officers are currently attempting to recover a number of dead fish to allow investigation,” the agency says.

“The cause at this moment is unknown. Officers at this time do not wish to speculate, but high-water temperatures and ambient air temperatures can result in conditions in our rivers that may be unfavourable to fish.

“Anyone recovering a dead fish should contact the Loughs Agency 24-hour response number on +44 287 134 2100.”

Published in Angling

The Loughs Agency has issued an alert requesting that anglers or members of the general public report any sightings of Pacific pink salmon in the Foyle or Carlingford river systems.

These migratory species of salmon, also known as ‘humpback’ salmon, are native to river systems in the northern Pacific Ocean but populations appearing in Europe are believed to have originated from stocking programmes in Russia in the latter stages of the 20th century.

Recordings of Pacific pink salmon in the Foyle and Carlingford catchments had been rare until 2017, when unprecedented numbers of the species began to be reported within inshore coastal waters in Scotland and England, and small numbers appeared in the Foyle catchment.

In 2019, the species was spotted in the Faughan, Dennett, Roe and Mourne Rivers within the Loughs Agency’s Foyle catchment between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and it was also prevalent in many other rivers throughout the rest of Ireland.

Inland Fisheries Ireland issued its own appeal to anglers last summer after a specimen was caught in Co Mayo.

Anglers are asked to be especially vigilant for potential reappearances of Pacific pink salmon during August and September, when they are most likely to be in spawning areas.

The following steps should be followed in the case of sightings or catches of Pacific pink salmon:

  • Take a clear photograph of the fish and keep a copy of the image
  • Record the date, location and method of capture or sighting, as well as details of the site
  • Note the weight and fork length measurement of the fish
  • Record the sex of the fish
  • Freeze and store the fish whole as soon as possible after capture
  • Contact the Loughs Agency immediately on +44 (0) 28 71 342100

If you are unsure as to the appearance of Pacific pink salmon, the following information can help identify the species:

  • Adult fish fresh from the sea are blue-green to steel blue on the back
  • Tend to have silver sides and a white underbelly
  • Range from 40—55cm in length (maximum 76cm)
  • Range from 1kg-2.5kg in weight (maximum 6.8kg)
Published in Angling
Tagged under

The Loughs Agency has confirmed the detection of a “limited number” of escaped rainbow trout from an aquaculture facility in the Foyle area.

Investigations are being conducted by inland fisheries officials from Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Anglers in the area who catch rainbow trout are advised not to release them back into the river and, if possible, to retain samples for Loughs Agency fishery officers who will collect them on request at +44 (0) 28 71 342100.

Published in Angling
Tagged under

Interested parties are now invited to apply for a licence to fish the 2022/2023 native oyster fishery on Lough Foyle.

Applicants will be required to submit a completed application via post, which must be received on or before Friday 29 July.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide proof of postage in the event of a late application delivery or a missing application.

At this stage the Loughs Agency asks that only completed application forms are sent. Please do not send additional documents or payment.

Loughs Agency offices are currently closed but application forms are available for download.

The licence fee is £150 or €166 and fees payable on receipt of licence.

No late applications will be accepted without proof of postage within the stated application timeframe.

Send applications to the following address:

Oyster Licence Applications
Loughs Agency
22 Victoria Road
Derry ~ Londonderry
BT47 2AB
Northern Ireland

Telephone opening hours 9am to 5pm Monday-Friday
Tel: +44 (0) 28 71 342100
Fax: +44 (0) 28 71 342720

Published in Fishing

This week the Loughs Agency welcomed Europe’s top marine scientists to the Northwest for the European Tracking Network’s (ETN) annual meeting, with delegates from across the continent attending the three-day event in Derry.

The conference, which is funded by the EU’s COST Action programme, took place in the City Hotel Derry from Tuesday 5 to Thursday 7 April, with attendees taking part in a range of informative workshops and activities.

The Loughs Agency is a member of ETN, an initiative devoted to furthering knowledge and management of aquatic species around Europe.

The network has six strategically placed large marine fish counters — known as ‘arrays’ — situated across the continent’s waters, with various member organisations involved in the long-term project.

During the conference delegates discussed a range of issues, including the current status of the project, new funding opportunities, key species for research and new projects in the pipeline.

Those in attendance have also embarked on site visits to Lough Foyle and rivers in the Foyle catchment. Over the course of these visits, they were able to observe the agency’s fish counters as well as estuary arrays which are deployed as part of SeaMonitor, the Loughs Agency-led project which has been described as “Europe’s largest fish counter”.

Graham Warke, the Mayor of Derry and Strabane was in attendance at the City Hotel Derry on Wednesday 6 April to meet delegates, and the party also had the opportunity to sample some of the region’s finest food and drink at the Walled City Brewery.

Sharon McMahon, acting chief executive of the Loughs Agency said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to welcome so many esteemed scientists, academics and environmentalists from across Europe to the Foyle catchment area in Ireland’s scenic Northwest.

“The agency is proud of the incredible work carried out by our science function on a daily basis, and as lead partner on the SeaMonitor project, we are fortunate to be right at the cutting edge of fish tracking technology.

“Through continuous collaboration with our European colleagues, this ETN annual meeting will enable us to increase our knowledge of aquatic species, which in turn will help us preserve marine life throughout Europe.”

ETN coordination Dr Jan Reubens explained that the network’s mission “is to track aquatic animals across Europe to better understand, protect and manage them. This meeting is an important milestone to boost our objectives by creating network opportunities, strengthening collaborations, sharing knowledge and advancing the science.”

Published in Marine Science

The Loughs Agency and Woodland Trust Northern Ireland have announced the launch of their new biodiversity project, TREES, within the Foyle and Carlingford catchment areas.

The primary aim of the TREES project is to protect and restore vital habitats for wildlife in rivers and trees.

It uses a nature-friendly solution of planting trees and creating a network of pond and dam systems which are specifically designed to manage flooding, potential pollution and nutrient run-off from farms which border vital river networks.

Ponds will be created on farmland, to hold an ample source of water which will provide a much-needed contingency, reducing the need for abstraction directly from the river. Ponds provide an additional benefit of retaining a water source on farms during periods of drought.

Areas of wet woodland are one of the most dynamic habitats and are important for a range of priority species, including salmon, otters, nesting birds, insects, bats and amphibians.

Biodiversity is a major focus for the project, with the planting of native trees sourced and grown in the UK and Ireland a priority to help ensure success.

So far, over 24 schemes are under way with the TREES project, which is on target to plant over 120,000 native broadleaf trees by the end of 2023.

Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon said: “We are delighted to be able to work with our esteemed colleagues at Woodland Trust NI on the TREES project, which will prove to be highly beneficial for the local farming community and the environment in the Foyle and Carlingford catchments.

“We are proud to be taking this proactive approach to address issues that could potentially lead to catastrophic consequences for the fisheries if left neglected.

“This partnership with landowners, farmers, and other like-minded organisations will hopefully lead to the protection of our rivers and ecosystems for years to come.”

With 8.7% tree cover in Northern Ireland and ancient woodland forming just 0.04% of that, the Woodland Trust works hard to create new woodland, and protect and restore our existing trees.

The Faughan Valley has the largest concentration of fragmented ancient woodland in Northern Ireland, and the Loughs Agency says it has been collaborating with the Woodland Trust to work with farmers whose land borders the River Faughan.

Ian McCurley, director for Woodland Trust Northern Ireland, said: “We are planting trees and woods to create resilient landscapes and a sustainable tree landscape for the future.

“The TREES project creates new woodland to protect and connect fragmented ancient woodland and to enhance havens for wildlife all resulting in a more resilient landscape for the future. We aim to support and advise landowners and the farming community.”

The new initiative will put the local farming community at its core, the Loughs Agency says, with involvement from the agricultural sector greatly encouraged to help deliver ecosystem services for the long-term benefit of rivers, habitats, environment and nearby farms.

Further information on the TREES project can be found at loughs-agency.org.

Published in Angling

As part of the Loughs Agency’s annual redd counting on the River Roe and its tributaries in Northern Ireland, underwater cameras were successfully deployed and have captured footage of salmon spawning activity.

Mark McCauley, freshwater fisheries biologist with the agency, said the footage shows some of the “varied and complex” lifecycle of the salmon.

“A female salmon begins to deposit her eggs in a redd as an adult male moves alongside to fertilise them. A female salmon produces approximately 1,100 eggs per kilogram of body weight,” he said, describing the footage.

“The male has a very distinctive hooked lower jaw called a kype. This is a characteristic displayed by adult males at spawning time. It is assumed to establish hierarchy among males, with those displaying larger kypes thought to be more dominant.

“The female then uses her tail to cover the fertilised eggs with gravel.

“The footage shows a parr moving over the area quickly afterwards, probably hoping to eat any eggs that are not covered before being driven off by the larger male.

“There are some instances of precocious parr, sometimes referred to as sneaker males. These are sexually mature salmon parr who will try to fertilise some of the eggs in an attempt to pass on some of their genes.

“This is all part of the varied and complex life-history strategies of Atlantic salmon.”

Spawning is a sensitive time of year for returning salmon and any disturbance can take them off the redd. Redds can also be damaged if stepped on. Therefore, the Loughs Agency advises against members of the public entering the river to view this activity.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Between 2012 and 2014, each spring the Loughs Agency — in partnership with Woodland Trust and with the agreement of local landowners — planted 10,000 mixed-species native trees along both banks of the River Roe in Northern Ireland.

This section of the Roe, in the upper Glenshane area of Co Derry, holds good populations of salmon and trout and a varied mixture of habitat for fish of all ages, the Loughs Agency says.

However, surveys highlighted that the riparian zones on both banks were devoid of tree cover, with only small numbers of coniferous pine trees present.

Riparian tree planting undertaken by the Loughs Agency sought to address several issues:

  • reduce runoff from the surrounding hills, thus reducing in-stream sedimentation and the threat to salmonid redds;
  • stabilise the riverbanks; and
  • slow the flow in the upland area, thus helping to reduce the potential of flooding downstream

Given current trends for prolonged dry spells in summer, the trees will provide valuable shade along the riverbank and a much-needed cooling effect during these times.

The maturing trees strengthening the banks of the River Roe in Co Derry | Credit: Loughs Agency

Fallen leaf litter will help increase populations of in-stream bug life for fish to prey upon. In addition, the trees provide a much-needed biodiversity corridor in this upland area.

Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon said: “In a climate of ever-increasing pressure upon the environment and natural resources, these schemes meet Loughs Agency's core responsibility of protecting and conserving freshwater fish stocks.

“They also help protect rivers, slow the flow, capture carbon. and provide an aesthetically pleasing biodiversity corridor adjacent to one of our most travelled routes.”

During planting, tree guards were put in place to protect young saplings from sheep, hares and deer. In this exposed environment, the guards also protect the trees from the elements.

Now that the trees are maturing, and the left-hand bank of the riparian zone has been fenced off since 2019, earlier this month the Loughs Agency completed the process of removing these plastic guards and over 3,000 were sent for recycling.

The works continue enhancements of the River Roe that have benefitted from an £80,000 investment since 2019, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Angling

The Loughs Agency has completed river enhancement works on several rivers in the Omagh area in Northern Ireland in partnership with local landowners, the Omagh Anglers Association and Strule Tributaries and Rivers Trust.

Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon said: “Since the major flood event in 2017, the agency has worked extensively to reduce silt in rivers, predominantly through working with farmers and landowners at a catchment level to protect riverbanks from excessive erosion.

“Siltation is less obvious than pollution events that are often reported, but it can significantly affect the sustainability of the fishery.

“This project demonstrates how partnership and using nature-based solutions can relieve some of the pressures on the fishery.”

One enhancement project was at a section of the Camowen River known as Bertie Anderson’s. The stretch had suffered bank slippage due to a combination of public and livestock access over the years. The subsidence resulted in silt entering the river and narrowing the channel.

Soft engineering works were completed by installing 60 metres of root wads to help stabilise the bank. The locally sourced wads will help to catch and reduce silt in the river and revegetate the bank.

Forty metres of vertical larch timber piles were also driven into the edge of the river along with horizontal poles to protect the base of the riverbank.

Salmon survival can be significantly affected by suspended solids entering the river due to bank erosion. This is due to salmon eggs becoming smothered by silt during the winter following soil erosion and run-off.

Downstream of this site, there is fantastic spawning habitat. However, bank erosion here has resulted in siltation which is impacting downstream spawning beds.

This soft engineering project will reduce erosion and act as a siltation trap, collecting suspended soils travelling down from upstream, the agency says.

Camowen River bank stability works before and after

Hard and soft engineering solutions were also used in other sites in the Foyle catchment. The Owenkillew, Quiggery, Glenelly, Cloughfin, Fintona, Altinagh, Routing, Granagh, Aghlisk and Glensawisk Rivers have also had habitat enhancement projects this year via local and stakeholder partnerships.

Terry Smithson of Omagh Anglers Association was delighted to work in tandem with other organisations to complete these works.

“We took the opportunity to work in conjunction with Loughs Agency and a local landowner on the Camowen project,” he said. “This work complements previous work undertaken by the club in the upper reaches of the Camowen on the spawning grounds and annual access works.

“It is great to see what can be achieved when we all work in a partnership to protect the holding pools, spawning beds and nursery streams."

Shane Colgan of the Strule Tributaries and Rivers Trust added: “We have been working with Loughs Agency in recent years on schemes to help create and reinstate habitat throughout the upper reaches of the Strule catchment.

“Works were carried out primarily to rehabilitate Atlantic salmon habitat but will benefit an array of riparian species, both flora and fauna. The schemes involved remedial bank revetment in helping alleviate the damage after several flooding incidents.”

For more information on the river enhancement projects, visit the Loughs Agency website HERE.

Published in Angling
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