18th October

‘Sheer lunacy’ to consider fracking in an Irish context

Tom White

After researching the shale gas industry in the US I have come to the conclusion that rather than asking ‘how do we regulate this industry’, we in Ireland should be asking ‘why are we soliciting an industry that is mired in debt?’  Because, if we're not careful, we could end up bailing out the shale gas industry here.

The shale gas industry in the US and elsewhere is facing cash flow issues with many companies spending twice as much as they are making: UK exploration company Cuadrilla has had to raise more cash than anticipated; and Chesapeake — the second largest natural gas producer in the US — is paying over 8% to refinance at a time when interest rates are at historic lows.

This is not a well industry (pardon the pun), and given the grave concerns about environmental damage; risks to public health and threats to a profitable agri-business, tourism and angling industries, it appears sheer lunacy to even consider fracking in an Irish context.

Read more: ‘Sheer lunacy’ to consider fracking in an Irish context

Mapping the connection between farming and the water environment

In an era of rapid change, farmers in Ireland are getting used to constantly assessing the most profitable and sustainable strategy for their enterprise. As part of that change, an awareness of impacts on the water environment has come to the fore, writes Gearóid Ó Riain, director, Compass Informatics.

At the same time, farm enterprises and water resources organisations alike are looking to mapping and geographic technologies to assist with decision-making and efficient management. These technological tools now play valuable roles in making the most of what both the land and the water offer, and in minimising conflicts over what happens where and when.

Another real spin-off of this awareness of the connection between farming and the water environment on one hand, and the value of geographic technologies on the other, is the employment created in companies providing these technical services and designing new solutions and tools.

Read more: Mapping the connection between farming and the water environment

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:

Spread the News

Native woodlands to protect water and aquatic ecos...

Deployment of new native woodlands and associated undisturbed water setbacks, which together combine [ ... ]

Seashore stress from prolonged heatwave

Alarm bells are ringing for plants, algae and sea creatures stressed by the current heatwave in  [ ... ]

Majority of Ireland's bathing waters are of high ...

The Bathing Water Quality in Ireland  2017 produced by the Environmental Protection Agency has  [ ... ]

Plan ‘lacks ambition’ to improve Ireland’s w...

A two-year overdue River Basin Management Plan “falls far short” of what is needed to protect Ir [ ... ]

Native woodlands to protect water and aquatic ecosystems
Seashore stress from prolonged heatwave
Majority of Ireland's bathing waters are  of high quality
Plan ‘lacks ambition’ to improve Ireland’s water quality