Sean Kyne TD, Minister with responsibility for the Inland Fisheries sector, has committed funding of €300,000 for 2019 to ensure Inland Fisheries Ireland’s (IFI) successful operations involving extensive removal of the invasive waterweed, Lagarosiphon Major (L.major), at Lough Corrib, Co. Galway, continue. Minister Kyne also asked Inland Fisheries Ireland and his Department to continue liaison with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), who have responsibility for the legislation covering Alien Invasive Species (AIS), and in particular liaison as regards species impacting on fisheries.
Minister Kyne said: “The management of the curly-leaved waterweed took place on Lough Corrib from January – July 2018 with a view to protecting this important angling resource and I am committing significant funding to Inland Fisheries Ireland for 2019 for this initiative. I also welcome the new Inland Fisheries Ireland research project commenced recently which will see scientists survey the distribution of the plant on the Lough. “I want to encourage liaison between Inland Fisheries Ireland and National Parks and Wildlife Service and other bodies on the issue of aquatic AIS so that a multi-agency approach can be brought to bear on the challenges involved.”
As part of the battle against L.major, Inland Fisheries Ireland cut and removed the weed across 73.5 hectares (73,500m²) of the Lough over a 5-month period this year in four sites which contained dense strands. These sites included Barrusheen Bay, Corrib View Bay, Drumsnauv Bay and Farnaught Bay. In addition, 21.3ha (21, 320m²) of L.major was covered using the light excluding jute treatment method between May and July. The areas targeted included Cornamona Bay, School House Bay, Farnaught, Corrib View Bay, Bob’s Island, The Needles and Ballynalty Bay. Finally, an area of 250m² was eradicated using the hand picking method across Farnaught, Cornamona Bay, Corrib View Bay, Bob’s Island and The Needles. The ongoing weed management operations carried out by Inland Fisheries Ireland has prevented the choking of bays by the weed which has occurred in the past. The management operations of L.major in Lough Corrib are supported annually by Galway Country Council and the Office of Public Works.
In addition to the management operations, Inland Fisheries Ireland commenced a research project last month which aims to establish the current distribution of L.major in Lough Corrib. New innovative methods are being trialled to survey the aquatic plant as part of this research. These include unmanned aerial drones, sub-aquatic remotely operated vehicles (ROV’s) and modern remote sensing techniques.
Physical and environmental factors will also be reviewed at sites on the lake each month to determine the influence of habitat and other factors on the distribution of the plant.
The findings of the project will help inform policy on future control operations of the invasive plant in the future. Dr Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “Lough Corrib is the second largest lake in Ireland and is of major conservation importance. It is a nationally important angling resource and as Lagarosiphon major has the potential to compromise the environmental, social and economic value of this unique resource, it is important that the appropriate control measures are put in place. Inland Fisheries Ireland welcomes the Minister’s commitment of funding for this programme. “Our staff have delivered a significant management programme for this invasive weed. The efficacy of the control measure implemented will now be evaluated by monitoring the natural recovery of the habitat and post-control assessment will continue. We also look forward to completing the L.major research project next year which will provide useful information to help its control.”
Source – EnviroSolutions