16th July

Urgent action required to save premier Irish lake

Diarmuid Mucahy outlines the issues

Lough Corrib can boast many accolades: It is one of the Great Western lakes; it is a priceless regional amenity; it is one of the most significant remaining brown trout fishing lakes in Europe, and it is the source of water supplies to Galway city and a number of other local towns and villages. The lake, however, is in a state of flux. Changes to its water may be about to seriously impact on all who depend on the lake for water, for a livelihood or simply as an amenity.

Recent studies carried out by NUI Galway suggest that overall there has been no significant changes in the lake over time; however there are unquestionably localised difficulties, many of which were clearly evident last summer.

Read more: Urgent action required to save premier Irish lake

Scientists skating on thin ice?

Dr Martin O'Farrell

The report of the Standing Scientific Committee of the National Salmon Commission: ‘The Status of Irish Salmon Stocks in 2006 and Precautionary Catch Advice for 2007’ is now the blueprint for the management of Irish salmon rivers. This report underpins government policy in relation to the management of wild Atlantic salmon in Ireland. 

With the operation of fisheries restricted to estuaries and rivers from 2007, assessment now focuses primarily on estimating individual river returns from catch data, counter data if available and rod catch exploitation rates.Catch of the day on the River Erriff. Photo Jim Stafford, Erriff Fishery

Catch of the day on the river Erriff. Photo Jim Stafford, Erriff Fishery

These data are then related to the estimated salmon Conservation Limit (CL) / spawning target for each river. The CL estimate is based on several catchment parameters (wetted area, latitude) as well as the salmon characteristics in the catchment (sea age, fecundity, sex ratio).

Read more: Scientists skating on thin ice?

Threat to native aquatic species from ornamental plants

Ireland needs to avoid repeating the mistakes made by countries that tried to eradicate freshwater invasive aquatic species, if it is to have an effective programme of control, an international expert, has indicated.

Dr John Clayton, a senior scientist and aquatic plants specialist with NIWA - the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research of New Zealand – told a public meeting in Galway that a national programme to tackle invasive plants like the Africa weed, Lagarosiphon major, were likely to be very expensive and would succeed only if they were well planned from the start.

The carpet of Lagarosisphon is so dense in places that swans have been seen walking on it.

The carpet of Lagarosisphon is so dense in places that swans have been seen walking on it.

“Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as going out and just cutting the weed,” he warned.
“For a control or eradication programme to be really effective, and to get the ‘best bang for your buck’, you have to put a lot of thought into it from the start.  You must know exactly what you are doing and where you are doing it.”

Read more: Threat to native aquatic species from ornamental plants

Government fails to protect Ireland's shellfish waters

Shay Fennelly

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has found that Ireland has failed to fulfill its obligations under the Shellfish Waters Directive 79/923. The Directive’s purpose is to protect the quality of shellfish waters designated by Member States as needing improvement or protection in order to support shellfish life and to contribute to the high quality of shellfish products. Clew Bay, Co Mayo. Photo Shay Fennelly

Clew Bay, Co Mayo. Photo Shay Fennelly

The ECJ ruled in June that the Irish Government failed:

Coastal zone management: dead or alive?

Rick Boelens

What ever happened to coastal zone management (CZM)? More to the point, what plans does the Irish government have to introduce CZM in Ireland, if any? 

The concept that coastal environments and communities warrant special consideration in planning and development achieved international recognition following the UN Earth Summit (Rio de Janeiro) in 1992.

Prominently, page one of the marine chapter in the conference proceedings identifies integrated management and sustainable development of coastal areas, including exclusive economic zones, ‘as a priority’. Thus, the term Integrated Coastal Area Management (ICAM – the word zone was substituted later) was born. 

Dune system at Maghercarty, Co Donegal, part of the demonstration programme. During the 1990s, the EU Commission embraced ICZM as an area requiring co-ordinated European action

Dune system at Maghercarty, Co Donegal, part of the demonstration programme. During the 1990s, the EU Commission embraced ICZM as an area requiring co-ordinated European action

During the 1990s the EU Commission embraced Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) as an area requiring co-ordinated European action given the coast’s ‘critical value’, and in the belief that many of the problems have a ‘European dimension’.

Read more: Coastal zone management: dead or alive?

Why is marine biodiversity important?

Tompot Blenny. Photo Nigel Motyer

Bryan Deegan

When we look at the sea, it is usually hard to imagine what life is like and what species exist beneath the waves. We usually don't realise there is a whole different world down there, with its own mountains, valleys and animals, that only a few of us have seen and which remains largely unexplored. The Earth's tallest mountain, longest mountain range and deepest canyon are all found in the ocean.

The seas off Ireland are a fascinating world full of magical organisms from tiny microscopic plants, much smaller than the eye can see, to some of the world’s biggest animals. The variety of living things that exists in this soup of biological sea life is called marine biodiversity. Another aspect of marine biodiversity that is very important for long-term survival of a species is the different makeup of individuals within a species. This is called genetic diversity.

Read more: Why is marine biodiversity important?

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Seashore stress from prolonged heatwave
Majority of Ireland's bathing waters are  of high quality
Plan ‘lacks ambition’ to improve Ireland’s water quality
 Never trust the ice beneath your feet