Thursday, 3 October 2019
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Inland Fisheries Ireland
277. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 2242 of 23 July 2019, if there are third-party completed expressions of interest in the 2019 funding call for instream fishery enhancement works through the midlands permit fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40184/19]
279. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 2244 of 23 July 2019, his views on whether Inland Fisheries Ireland will undertake instream fishery enhancement works for brown trout in 2020 in view of the fact the anticipated source of funding for the 2020 instream fishery enhancement programme is coming from the salmon and seatrout rehabilitation, conservation and protection scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40186/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 277, 279 and 280 together.
As previously indicated in response to questions tabled by the Deputy project applications are made to Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) under funding schemes within National Strategy for Angling Development (NSAD) which opened earlier this year.
I am advised by IFI that projects are in the final step of the process and awaiting IFI Board approval in line with the process for administering the funding schemes. I also understand that there is one completed third party project application to the Midland Fisheries Fund.
I would expect that details of projects that have been successful in their applications to Inland Fisheries Ireland in 2019 and have been approved by the Board will be notified to my Department and I will be happy will to announce details of the projects shortly.
Sustainable funding schemes available to IFI for disbursement include the Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund, due to the State through the sale of salmon and sea trout licences and the Midland Fisheries Fund, gathered through the sale of permits in the midland fisheries area. Some 50% of this State funding is made available for works related to the funds. The Midland Fisheries Fund does facilitate in-stream fisheries enhancement work in trout fisheries and I understand that works undertaken to improve habitat for salmon and sea trout also benefit other salmonid species.
The Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund is confined to these species in respect of which a licence fee is required. A further sustainable funding mechanism to fund projects related to trout and other species nationally could be considered to if there were similar requirements for those species.
The IFI budget for 2020 has yet to be finalised and I am advised that IFI allocate budget to priority works across the country. IFI has previously undertaken lagarosiphon weed control and stock management in the Western Lakes and is working on the Owenriff for example, and these initiatives are expected to continue.
278. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 2245 of 23 July 2019, if he will provide a report of the instream fishery enhancement work carried out under the Inland Fisheries Ireland and OPW memorandum of understanding in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40185/19]
The memorandum of 2018 entitled Environmental River Enhancement Programme (EREP) relates to the Shared Service Agreement between the OPW and IFI. This umbrella title covers various series of scientific and habitat management investigations in arterially drained rivers, commenced in 2008. The EREP is the successor to the Environmental Drainage Maintenance or EDM Programme, involving a series of shared studies by OPW and IFI. The EREP, as with the EDM, has undergone significant development and transformation during the period since its inception in 2008. The Shared Service Agreement of 2018 set out a priority, within EREP, of an essential greater focus on scientific investigations within an emphasis on Water Framework Directive (WFD) requirements.
The investigations undertaken in 2018 covered a range of issues, completing a detailed 2-year examination of fish, habitat and barriers in the Inny catchment, continuing a programme of long-term monitoring of sites previously examined in the 1990s, examining options for OPW in regard to management of old channel meanders and of gravel traps among other priorities.
The Shared Service Agreement identified that a number of proposals could be examined annually within EREP in the context of river enhancement. It was also agreed by OPW and IFI that, in line with the WFD, the status of any waterbody where river enhancement works might be proposed would be assessed in advance of undertaking any works.
Waterbody status is assessed under WFD and an Ecological Quality Ratio or EQR is allocated. This is a WFD management process and the EQR identifies if a waterbody is in HIGH, GOOD, MODERATE, POOR or BAD status. Sites identified as being in HIGH or GOOD status are deemed not to require further ‘intervention’ to improve status. The Agreement identified that detailed EQR data would be collected for fish community and for habitat in any waters where works were being proposed, in advance of any determination to proceed.
It is, therefore, a priority that the scientific evidence gathering process, underpinning proposed works, should be advanced and completed before any determination on proceeding with works is finalised. In that regard, and in view of the commencement of the current Shared Service Agreement in 2018, thus far work has concentrated on the essential data gathering element agreed under EREP.