New partnership will help conserve fisheries resource and facilitate flood risk management investment activities
Inland Fisheries Ireland and Office of Public Works commit to five-year working agreement
Monday, 2nd July 2018: Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Office of Public Works, Flood Risk Management Unit have signed a new shared service agreement which will see them continue to work collaboratively over the next five years in the protection of fishery requirements while carrying out flood risk management investment activities. The agreement will see both parties work closely together to help ensure the country’s statutory drainage objectives are achieved with a focus on the protection of fishery habitats and resources.
The OPW is the lead statutory body for Drainage Maintenance and Flood Risk Management (FRM) in the State while Inland Fisheries Ireland is the statutory body responsible for the protection and conservation of the inland fisheries resource.
The agreement, which spans from 2018 until 2022, has been secured at a time when Government investment in flood risk management operations is increasing. It follows the recent publication of the Government’s Flood Risk Management Plans which will see some €1 billion in funding under the National Development Plan invested in projects across the country to mitigate flood risk. This new partnership formalises the historical working relationship between the two organisations and commits them to continuing their positive engagement for Ireland’s fishery habitats and resources.
Under the agreement, both parties will work across the Environmental River Enhancement Programme (EREP) and will focus on:
- A series of scientific investigations to further understand environmental impacts of river maintenance works.
- Development of best practice to minimise environmental impacts and maximise environmental gain of river maintenance and flood relief activities.
- Work programme to identify barriers to fish passage on arterially drained rivers that have potential for improvements works.
- Work elements to assist achieving so that all waters will attain ‘Good’ ecological status by a specified date, as per the Water Framework Directive.
The aim is to provide a science-based platform to the IFI-OPW linkages. For example, scientific investigations will provide an evidence base for determining the appropriateness or otherwise of undertaking physical river enhancement works in locations to bring about improved Ecological Quality Ratio (EQR) scores. Facilitated by Inland Fisheries Ireland surveys, an EQR will be generated for the fish community and the physical form of the river at each site. This will inform all requests to OPW from third parties, such as angling clubs or community groups, to undertake such works. Inland Fisheries Ireland will be taking a prioritised approach in undertaking surveys and could handle a small number of cases annually.
Suzanne Campion, Head of Business Development at Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “We are delighted to re-engage with the OPW and continue to foster the high levels of understanding of fishery requirements within flood risk management activities while also ensuring statutory drainage objectives are realised. Together, we will secure the future of our rich natural fisheries resource.”
John Curtin, Director of Engineering Services, OPW said: “This agreement is a proactive one in terms of delivering environmental gain, while still balancing the drainage / flood relief functions for our communities and demonstrates how two public authorities working in partnership can achieve more that the organisations could working individually.”
For more information on Inland Fisheries Ireland, visit www.fisheriesireland.ie and to learn about the Office of Public Works, visit www.opw.ie. A full copy of the agreement can be read pdf here (692 KB) .
For more information
- Órla Sheils
- Communications Manager
- Inland Fisheries Ireland
- T: 01 8842673
About Inland Fisheries Ireland
Inland Fisheries Ireland is a statutory body operating under the aegis of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) and was established under the Fisheries Act on 1st July 2010. Its principal function is the protection and conservation of the inland fisheries resource. Inland Fisheries Ireland promotes supports, facilitates and advises the Minister on the conservation, protection, management, development and improvement of inland fisheries, including sea angling. Inland Fisheries Ireland also develops policy and national strategies relating to inland fisheries and sea angling and advises the Minister on same.
Notes for Editors
Inland Fisheries Ireland and predecessors have been scientifically investigating drained rivers with OPW since the 1990s.
The EREP is successor to a series of investigations – the EDM (Environmental Drainage Maintenance) studies – undertaken by IFI from 1990 - 2007. The EDM studies looked at the effect of channel maintenance on fish and habitat and developed strategies that could be implemented in river maintenance to reduce adverse effect and to also bring about habitat improvement, using the OPW machine on-site and the available bed material in the channel.
The EREP 2008-2012 introduced the opportunity to ‘import’ materials on-site to undertake channel works.
OPW undertakes maintenance works on approximately 2,000 km of channel annually. The initial plan in EREP, as of its commencement in 2008, was to implement a programme of river enhancement measures on suitable arterially drained channels. River enhancement increases the structural diversity of the river corridor to create a more natural physical form and this is achieved through a range of enhancement measures such as construction of various instream stone structures, excavating pools and building riffles, re-profiling the channel cross-section and fencing of river banks to allow vegetation regeneration. This reintroduced more natural structural diversity within the river corridor, facilitates an increase in the species richness in the river and has a positive effect on the whole food web surrounding the river corridor which supports all the associated habitats and biota.