About the AMBER Project

Adaptive Management of Barriers in European Rivers

Man-made barriers in rivers have brought many benefits to society over hundreds of years – for navigation, power generation, recreation. However, this has led to heavy fragmentation of European rivers, leading to major loss of natural river functioning. It has also restricted or eliminated migration pathways for a range of fish species such as sturgeon, Atlantic salmon, sea lamprey and European eel. The AMBER project (Adaptive Management of Barriers in European Rivers) seeks to raise awareness of the problems posed by stream fragmentation, the pressures on freshwater ecosystems and the need for innovative solutions.

AMBER, which is a €6.2 million Euro multi-disciplinary research project, will see 20 partners from 11 countries including Ireland, combine citizen science and cutting-edge technology to map the distribution of barriers and assess their effects on freshwater organisms. It will work with hydroelectric companies, water providers, NGOs, anglers and local authorities to restore river connectivity. The project will encourage citizens to become involved in efforts to reconnect Europe’s rivers by mapping the location of barriers and assessing their impacts with the help of a smartphone app.
AMBER is funded under the EU Horizon 2020 programme of scientific research and has a four year term from 2016-2020.

Atlas of European Barriers

Inland Fisheries Ireland direct involvement in AMBER

AMBER Work Package: Compilation of Atlas of European Barriers.

Inland Fisheries Ireland is compiling information on barriers in rivers, in particular their location and type, which will feed into the Atlas of European Barriers, a key objective of the AMBER project.  Inland Fisheries Ireland has successfully mapped the Nore catchment during 2008 and has continued to build towards compiling a national picture of barriers as a GIS (Geographic Information System) layer.  In 2016, the Bonet – Lough Gill catchment was surveyed and staff are currently working through the Barrow catchment.

A selection of barriers

Adaptive Barrier Management

Inland Fisheries Ireland direct involvement in AMBER

AMBER Work Package:  Demonstration Sites of Adaptive Barrier management

Sea Lamprey on the Munster Blackwater

A programme of radio tracking sea lamprey will involve the capture of adult migrating sea lamprey and external attachment of radio tags. The tagged fish are released, following recovery, and their movements are followed by manual tracking, either via boat or via bank-walking to monitor passage over weirs. The study intends to look at the response of the sea lamprey when they encounter barriers or blockages to their upstream spawning migration. This work will be undertaken during 2017.

In addition to the radio tracking work, Inland Fisheries Ireland will examine the main Blackwater channel to identify locations where sea lamprey spawning occurs and to count redds or spawning nests at these sites.

Sea lamprey excavating spawning nest in river gravels Sea lamprey excavating spawning nest in river gravels

Fish Community survey in the Munster Blackwater

Inland Fisheries Ireland has undertaken a number of fish community surveys as part of the AMBER project to investigate the impact of the weirs, and mitigation measures, if any on the fish community composition in impounded areas of channel and in natural areas.

Inland Fisheries Ireland has used its boom boat to undertake electric fishing surveys in the deep water areas upstream of the major weirs on the Blackwater as well as in the naturally deeper areas of the main channel. The surveys identified the range of fish present, measured all the fish and took scales to look at the age and growth rate of the fish.

 Fish Survey



Munster Blackwater fish community

More information

Find out more about AMBER

For more information about the AMBER project, visit

Download:  AMBER - Let it Flow