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Suspension of Oyster Fishing in the Foyle Area

Fishing for native oysters (Ostrea edulis) is suspended in the entirety of The Foyle Area, as defined by The Foyle Area (Control of Oyster Fishing) Regulations 2008 as amended 2010, for the periods listed below:

  •  19th September 2019 at 06:00 hrs to 7th October 2019 at 18:00 hrs
  • 9th October 2019 at 06:00 hrs to 14th October 2019 at 18:00 hrs
  • 16th October 2019 at 06:00 hrs to 21st October 2019 at 18:00 hrs
  • 24th October 2019 at 06:00 hrs to 28th October 2019 at 18:00 hrs
  • 31st October 2019 at 06:00 hrs to 4th November 2019 at 18:00 hrs
  • 7th November 2019 at 06:00 hrs to 11th November 2019 at 18:00 hrs
  • 14th November 2019 at 06:00 hrs to 18th November 2019 at 18:00 hrs
  • 21st November 2019 at 06:00 hrs to 25th November 2019 at 18:00 hrs
  • 28th November 2019 at 06:00 hrs to 2nd December 2019 at 18:00 hrs
  • 5th December 2019 at 06:00 hrs to 9th December 2019 at 18:00 hrs
  • 12th December 2019 at 06:00 hrs to 31st January 2020 at 18:00 hrs

Reasons for suspension of fishing in The Foyle Area
Suspension of Opening
Poor recruitment of juveniles into the population in the summers of 2015, 2016 and 2017 resulted in reduced spawning potential for the subsequent seasons. The protection and retention of a functioning spawning stock biomass is necessary in order to maintain future stocks. There is evidence that a widespread spatfall took place in summer 2018, however these juvenile oysters will not recruit into the fishery until 2021 at the earliest.

The Foyle oyster population has generally ceased spawning late in August however on occasion, spawning is still occurring up to the end of September. The period immediately post spawning is a sensitive time when oysters are reconditioning and may still be susceptible to mortality if disturbed.

Weekly monitoring of gonad maturation, brooding, density of larvae and water temperatures in 2019 has indicated that conditions are such that oysters may still be spawning and settling in early September. Therefore, the 2019/20 fishery opening has been suspended until 06:00 hours on 8th October 2019 in order to protect juvenile stages until such times as they are robust enough to withstand fishery related stress.
Reduction of Days per Week

In order to reduce the amount of stress being put upon the Native Oyster population in Lough Foyle, and in order to retain an acceptable biomass of spawning stock in the population, fishing effort will be reduced from the total regulation days for the 2019 season as in previous years.

Fishing related stress levels in the oyster population in the Lough are directly linked to the fishing effort. Fishing related stress has been found to be highest during the first 8 weeks of the season. This correlates with the landings data submitted to Loughs Agency by licence holders which shows that, for the period 2012-18 around 80% of the total landings are removed within the first 8 weeks of the fishery. The high fishing effort at the beginning of the season is likely to have an impact on the health of the oyster stocks particularly those individuals which are undersized and which are being caught and released.

The Foyle oysters are infected with a blood parasite called Bonamia ostreae which causes a disease called Bonamiosis. This disease spreads when the cells of infected oyster rupture and infect nearby oysters which ingest the parasite. It is thought that infection rates are increased during periods of high stress. Therefore a reduction in fishing effort may go some way to reducing the spread of Bonamiosis in the Native Oyster population in the Lough.
Closure January 2020
Removal of 100% of the stock above the minimum landing size is not sustainable. It is advisable to retain a proportion of the spawning stock above 80mm in the fishery in order to allow for stock replenishment and the achievement of effective spawning for the 2020 spawning season.

Removal of a large proportion of stock over 80mm from the fishery this season could have a significant negative impact on broodstock, and could potentially have a highly detrimental effect on future recruitment to the population.

The fishery will be closed in January 2020 (in accordance with the dates listed in this Declaration) in order to allow a survey and review of the Native Oyster population remaining in the Lough after the fishing period.

 

A full copy of the declaration can be found here.

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