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27/09/2021

Funding for Laois river under conservation scheme

Funding for Laois river under conservation scheme

The River Erkina at Woodenbridge

Funding has been announced for the river Erkina under a conservation scheme.

Inland Fisheries Ireland, the state agency with responsibility for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats, is awarding funding to 17 projects in 11 counties under the ‘Habitats and Conservation Scheme 2021’.

Of this, €24,000 in funding has been granted for habitat enhancement works for salmon on the River Erkina in the Nore catchment.

The funding will go towards works on the river and adjacent lands, such as selective tree pruning, fallen tree removal, placement of boulders and pair deflectors to improve water quality, habitat, climate mitigation and the movement of fish.

Under two separate funds, the Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund and the Midland Fisheries Fund, eligible angling clubs, commercial fishermen and fishery owners were invited to apply for financial assistance to support fisheries conservation projects in their local areas.

Funding for 17 projects have been approved so far this year, based in Laois, Westmeath, Carlow, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, Mayo, Wexford and Wicklow. Examples include:

- construction of rock ramp passageways to make it easier for fish to migrate upstream and downstream of impassable weirs
- improvements to water quality by installing fences to stop livestock from entering the river and providing water pumps and troughs for livestock to minimise agricultural impacts
- encouraging wild river regeneration by planting native Irish trees and shrubs along riverbanks in combination with fencing
- enhancement of spawning and nursery habitats for salmon and sea trout
- research to inform and improve national management decisions around sea trout
- carrying out catchment-focused feasibility studies, habitat management plans, aquatic invasive species plans and environmental assessments to improve river habitats and species
- soft engineering works to help regenerate the land and water adjacent to rivers

The announcement has been welcomed by Minister Eamon Ryan, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications.

The Minister said, “The Habitats and Conservation Scheme 2021 is a great example of proactive conservation and protection of habitats. The scheme will support angling clubs, commercial fishermen and fishery owners in improving habitats, water quality and fish passage at a local grassroots level. The works and studies supported by the scheme will also result in wider benefits for the environment.”

Since 2016, Inland Fisheries Ireland has made more than €4 million available through its various funding schemes, including the two 2021 funds. Suzanne Campion, Head of Business Development with Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “Protecting and conserving fish species, like Atlantic Salmon and Sea Trout, is critical to overall health of our eco-system.

Threats like water pollution, climate change and invasive species are all having a damaging impact. Under the Habitats and Conservation Scheme, made possible through fishing licence income, groups all over the country will be working on projects and measures that benefit the conservation of salmon, sea trout and their freshwater habitats.”

Financial assistance under the Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund (SSTRCPF total of €744,326) is generated by the sale of salmon and sea trout angling licences and commercial fishing licences in Ireland. 

The Midlands Fisheries Fund (MFF total of €29,778) is financed through contributions from permit income, received through the Midlands Fisheries Group permit area. To be eligible, applicants to the SSTRCPF must have purchased a valid salmon and sea trout angling licence or a commercial fishing licence or for the MFF, hold a current Midlands Fisheries Group permit.  

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