IFI encourages action to reduce impact of climate change and water abstractions
Freshwater lakes, rivers and their aquatic communities are becoming increasingly vulnerable due to water abstractions and the impact of climate change. That is according to Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) who issued a call today (27.02.23) to encourage future development planning applications to consider the impact of water abstractions on Ireland's rivers, lakes, and fish species.
Water level fluctuations caused by numerous pressures, including abstractions, can negatively impact aquatic ecosystems and consequently, the services they provide to the local economy and to aquatic biodiversity.
Higher water temperatures as a result of climate change are also said to have an impact on the natural water cycles of our rivers and lakes, causing thermal regimes in lakes and rivers to change. This results in a reduction in wetted area and a decrease in suitable habitat for fish and other aquatic communities during droughts.
IFI is cautioning that changes in the flow or abstraction of water in a catchment can be extremely harmful to migratory fish species such as salmon, sea trout, and eel, which are already stressed as a result of climate change. Such adverse conditions can reduce the success of fish migration and demonstrate how vulnerable these species are to changing climatic conditions and other pressures.
Francis O’ Donnell, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “It is imperative that we ensure where possible, all water resources are managed sustainably to protect our natural resources. This involves making sure that river flows and lake levels can sustain aquatic environments and biota while also allowing the use of water for drinking water supply and other purposes such as agricultural, commercial, industrial and recreational use.
IFI strongly advises that the impacts of climate change should be considered in all planning applications for developments that affect the natural hydrological water cycle and the wider aquatic community. IFI has a statutory responsibility to protect salmonids and other freshwater fish species including Eels and this will remain our first priority.”
Dr. Cathal Gallagher, Head of Research at Inland Fisheries Ireland added: “IFI’s Climate Change Mitigation Research Programme was set up in 2019 to assess the impact of climate change on Ireland’s fish and habitats. The ongoing research is already identifying areas in catchments where fish species and habitats are most under threat, but also areas that are showing resilience to climate change. It is important that we work together to safeguard the future of our natural resources.”
For more information visit IFI’s Climate Change Mitigation Research programme
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About Inland Fisheries Ireland
Inland Fisheries Ireland is a statutory body operating under the aegis of the Department of Environment, Climate and Communication (DECC) 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 (fisheriesireland.ie).
- It is predicted that Ireland’s mean annual temperatures could rise by between 1oC and 1.6oC by 2050 with summers becoming hotter and drier and winters becoming wetter and warmer. 2022 has been declared the warmest year on record by Met Eireann.
- The Environmental Protection Agency has defined an abstraction as “the removal or diversion of water from rivers, streams, lakes, springs, groundwater wells, borehole or estuary for any purpose. The extracted water is used for a number of reasons e.g. well, water bottling plans, agricultural activities (e.g. watering of livestock), hydropower or cooling for electricity generation, commercial activities such as golf courses or racecourses as well as drinking water supply, aquaculture, mining and quarrying activities.
- Regulations governing the abstraction of water are set out in The Water Environment (Abstractions and Associated Impoundments) Act 2022.
- The EU Water Framework Directive aims to protect the EU’s water resources by promoting efficient water use and minimising abstraction, prevent further deterioration of water resources and protect and enhance the status of aquatic ecosystems.