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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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River Habitat

Good quality in-channel and riverside (riparian) habitat is one of the essential components to a river as part of a fully functioning aquatic ecosystem. All our rivers and streams can be broadly categorised into different habitat types where fish of different species and age classes can seek refuge and develop feeding territories. The diversity of fish species in the Foyle and Carlingford areas and the various life history stages of these fish mean that no river habitat should be devoid of fish life, invertebrates or aquatic vegetation.

The Foyle area has been described as having natural channel structure in its headwaters where the rivers and streams continue to have the potential to fully function as aquatic ecosystems.

Post war arterial drainage schemes designed to improve land for agricultural productivity and to protect land, property and life have resulted in significantly altered river habitats. Flood banks and flood walls have been erected and rivers dredged to facilitate quick runoff of flood waters. This has resulted in a lack of connectivity between the rivers and their floodplains, limiting the essential natural processes required to ensure optimal river habitats are maintained as part of a fully functioning aquatic ecosystem.

The Loughs Agency undertakes habitat surveys of river channels to classify the quality of spawning, holding and nursery habitats. Secondary information including bank erosion, trampling by cattle, fly tipping, locations of barriers and invasive species amongst other impacts are also recorded. Both primary and secondary habitat information is recorded on GPS units in the field and transferred to the Loughs Agency Geographical Information System (GIS) on return to the office. This information can then be overlain with fish stock assessment data and other information.

By utilising the fish stock assessment data, local knowledge and the information on the GIS the Loughs Agency can pin point areas which would benefit from habitat improvement works. These works are developed to ensure they have a positive benefit on the native fish species and surrounding habitats. Over recent years the Loughs Agency has conducted significant habitat improvement works throughout the Foyle and Carlingford areas and is always keen to discuss future projects with interested partners. These projects generally require significant planning and other statutory approvals prior to commencement.

If you are part of an organisation which is interested in protecting and improving your local aquatic habitats please contact Art Niven at the Loughs Agency. We are always eager to develop collaborative projects with local partners.