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Freshwater Environment

The freshwater habitats of the Foyle and Carlingford

These areas support significant populations of native fish species. Atlantic salmon is probably the most well known of these and has been viewed traditionally as a good environmental indicator species. This means that its continued presence has demonstrated the high water quality of local rivers, natural habitats and ecosystem structure.

In addition to the Atlantic salmon populations the rivers and lakes of the Foyle and Carlingford systems provide excellent habitat for a variety of other native fish species including, Trout (sea trout and brown trout), European Eel, River Lamprey, Brook Lamprey , Sea Lamprey, Three Spined Stickleback and the Freshwater Pearl Mussel. Descriptions and distributions of these native fish species within the Foyle and Carlingford areas are outlined here.

The conservation, protection and development of these fishery resources are of primary concern to the Loughs Agency. If the diversity of native fish species is to be maintained it is important not only to monitor and conserve the fish species directly but also to monitor, conserve and where appropriate improve their habitats, associated ecosystems and geomorphological processes impacting upon the watercourses.

The Loughs Agency aims to manage the Foyle and Carlingford systems in line with national and international obligations to provide a sustainable fishery resource. In doing so the Loughs Agency is keen to promote the concept of sustainable development within the systems from a social, economic and environmental perspective. Sustainable development is defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

European legislation has also enabled the designation of a number of rivers within the Foyle system as Special Areas of Conservation or SAC’s. These sites include examples of areas where threatened species and habitats of local and European importance are present and in need of active conservation and protection. Within the Foyle area this has involved the designation and creation of: The River Foyle and Tributaries SAC, Owenkillew River SAC, River Finn SAC, River Roe and Tributaries SAC and most recently the River Faughan and Tributaries SAC. The Foyle river SAC’s have been designated to protect a variety of species and habitats including the Atlantic salmon, River, Brook and Sea Lamprey, Freshwater Pearl Mussel, Otter and habitat in the form of watercourses of plain to montane levels with Ranunculus fluitans and Callitricho-Batrachion vegetation.