contact us

22 Victoria Road
Northern Ireland
BT47 2AB

Tel: +44 (0) 28 7134 2100

Dundalk Street,
Co Louth,
Rep. of Ireland

Tel: +353 (0) 42 938 3888

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Frequently Asked Questions

Corporate FAQ’s

What are the Agency`s normal opening times?

Foyle – Our head office (including our Riverwatch Visitor Centre) at Prehen is open to the public Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Carlingford -The regional office at Carlingford is open to the public Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Does the Agency have offices in other locations?

Yes, we have an office in Omagh however it is only an operational base.

Is the Loughs Agency wheelchair accessible?


How is the organisation structured?

The Loughs Agency is split in to 4 directorates each run by a Director:

  • Conservation and Protection which is run by John McCartney
  • Development which is run by Kevin Wilson
  • Corporate Services which is run by JP O’Doherty
  • Aquaculture which is run by Barry Fox

Sharon McMahon is the Loughs Agency’s Designated Officer. These 5 staff make up the Senior Management Team and they report to a Board on a monthly basis. Check out the who’s who section of our website for further details on our staff.

Who should I contact if I need more information?

You can contact the Information Services Officer on 0044 (0) 2871 342100 will be able to help you or refer you on to the most appropriate member of staff.


How can I make a group booking?

Simply call Riverwatch on 0044 (0) 2871 342100 or e-mail

Is there a guide to take me around the centre?

The centre is self guiding and there are lots of interpretative panels. However, if you require assistance or have a group booking a guide can be easily arranged with no additional charge.

Is there activity packs available for the kids?

Yes, we have free activity packs available at reception.

Is there an admission charge?

No, admission to Riverwatch is FREE!

Is there schools programmes?

Yes, Riverwatch runs a range of educational programmes from key stage 1 upwards. See the Riverwatch section on the website for more information.

What time are the fish fed in Riverwatch?

They are normally fed before opening to the public. However, if this is something you really want to see we can sometimes alter the time. Just contact us in advance of your visit.

When is the Riverwatch Aquarium and Visitor Centre opening?

The centre is open Monday to Friday from 10am and closes at 4pm.


Can they be collected by the public and are they safe to eat?

Persons wishing to collect shellfish for personal consumption should be aware of the health risks associated with doing so, they should also be aware of the European Food Hygiene Regulations (EC Regulation 853/2004). Persons wishing to commercially gather shellfish by hand should contact the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Ireland, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland or the Loughs Agency for advice.

Although red tides do not occur very often in our waters it is best to check with the monitoring body prior to eating shellfish from Lough Foyle or Carlingford Lough so as to avoid eating shellfish during a closed period.

Do the oysters in Lough Foyle have a disease? Is it harmful to humans?

A very small percentage of native oysters in Lough Foyle have tested positive for a microscopic parasite called Bonamia ostreae. This parasite can cause mortality in native oysters, especially during spawning seasons and periods of high water temperature.

This parasite is not harmful to humans and oysters can be consumed without any worry by the public.

What are red tides/harmful algal blooms?

Shellfish are filter feeders and they eat by siphoning water through their gills and collecting any suspended food particles in the seawater. Their diet contains plant and animal material in the form of plankton. Some of this plankton can sometimes be toxic to humans when it is eaten. For this reason it is important to monitor the levels of these harmful plankton. This toxic plankton can be called red tides or harmful algal blooms and government scientists monitor the levels of these toxins weekly to determine if there is a toxic plankton species present in the water. When there is a toxic species present the shellfish are not harvested and not sold to the human consumption market. These toxic events are very rare in Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough although they do occur in other bays around Ireland and the UK.

What shellfish are in Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough?

Lough Foyle is home to many species of wild shellfish. Blue Mussels and native oysters are the most abundant shellfish however brown crabs, velvet crabs, spider crabs, green crabs, lobsters, prawns, winkles, clams and whelks can also be found here. There is a traditional fishery for native oysters in Lough Foyle that has been fished by local people for centuries.

Lough Foyle supports a thriving shellfish aquaculture industry, which produces about half of Ireland’s total production of blue mussels per annum. Pacific oysters are also farmed in Lough Foyle and sold in restaurants around Ireland and other European countries. Carlingford Lough is also home to large populations of blue mussels. These are present in wild beds within the Lough and are also farmed in aquaculture sites within the Lough. Green crabs, brown crabs, lobsters, clams, prawns, winkles and native oysters are also present in the Lough. Pacific oysters, manila clams, native oysters and mussels are all farmed in Carlingford Lough on the seashore and also on the seabed.


Conservation & Protection

What area does the Loughs Agency cover?

We cover all the rivers and streams that drain into Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough.

What number should I ring if I see pollution in the river?

You can contact the Agency’s normal office number on Tel: 0044 (0) 2871 342100. After 5pm and over the weekend you will be given advice on who to contact in an emergency.  Download our WaterWatch app to report pollution via your phone.

What number should I ring if I want to report illegal fishing?

You can contact the Agency’s normal office number on Tel: 0044 (0) 2871 342100. After 5pm and over the weekend you will be given advice on who to contact in an emergency.  Download our WaterWatch app to report illegal via your phone.

Where can I buy salmon?

It is illegal to buy or sell rod caught salmon. Registered dealers may sell commercially caught wild salmon during the season.