As part of the International Year of the Salmon, Loughs Agency hosted a celebration event at its Headquarters in Derry~Londonderry this week. There was lots to celebrate on Wednesday 10th April, including the 21st Anniversary of the historic signing of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement, two decades of Loughs Agency and the launch of SeaMonitor, a ground breaking research project funded by the EU INTERREG VA Programme, led by Loughs Agency.
Since the implementation of the 1998 Agreement, Loughs Agency has been protecting, enhancing and improving the quality of the cross border fisheries in the Foyle and Carlingford Areas. Over the last 20 years the Agency has gone from strength to strength. Working closely with its Sponsor Departments and other stakeholders, the Agency has successfully delivered a multitude of projects and programmes aimed at creating better environments, supporting sustainable development and protecting the rich, diverse natural environment, fisheries and resources under its care.
Speaking at the event Sharon McMahon, Designated Officer at Loughs Agency said “We in the Agency are very conscious that globally, there is a demand for collaborative structures to ensure effective and ethical stewardship and protection of some of our most precious and valued shared environmental and natural resources. We are so very fortunate that we are the product of the foresight of both Governments on this island, North and South, that such a structure was and remains necessary for the effective conservation, protection, enhancement and promotion of such amazing but fragile environmental assets.”
Sharon continued “The Agency has established a talented and knowledgeable workforce who literally work around the clock which is often unseen by the general public, to ensure our mission continues to be achieved.”
Guest speaker Tim O’Connor, former Joint Secretariat of the North South Ministerial Council said “As somebody privileged to have been part of the Good Friday Agreement talks 21 years ago, where the concept for the Loughs Agency was conceived, it gives me great personal satisfaction to see what a thriving organisation it has grown to be over those two decades. My warmest compliments to the Board, and to Sharon McMahon and her great team for the wonderful work they do on a daily basis in the Foyle and Carlingford areas. Their mission contributes strongly to the protection of the planet and the protection of peace and is a perfect outworking of what I hoped could be achieved in the Agreement through the enablement of a new era of cross-border co-operation.”
Sighle FitzGerald, Deputy Joint Secretary at the NSMC said “There is much to be proud of in terms of the Loughs Agency’s achievements over the past 21 years and much to look forward to in realising your ambitions for the future. You have and will continue to make a very important contribution to North/South cooperation and to the All Island economy”.
Speaking at the event Donal Moran, Deputy Joint Secretary at the NSMC said “I welcome the opportunity to be here today to represent the Joint Secretariat at this event to mark the 20th Anniversary of the Loughs Agency. Since its establishment, the Agency has delivered a multitude of projects and programmes aimed at creating a better environment and a sustainable development to protect the rich, diverse and natural environment that comes under its care. Loughs Agency is an important element of North/South co-operation and will continue to grow to protect and improve cross border environmental development.”
Tim O’Connor (NSMC), Mark Hanniffy (NSMC), Sighle FitzGerald (NSMC Joint Secretariat), Sharon McMahon (Loughs Agency), Donal Moran (NSMC Joint Secretariat).
During the event, guests were informed of the achievements and current work of the Loughs Agency. Dr Patrick Boylan, Senior Biologist at Loughs Agency informed the audience how the Agency has developed and deployed an internationally recognised evidence based fisheries management approach and a multi-audit point management system for Atlantic salmon to enable sustainable management decisions.
Fishery Inspector, Seamus Cullinan talked through the conservation, protection and enforcement work of the Agency which forms the central core of their day to day operations. Seamus explained ‘enforcement is an often unpopular but essential part of the job and is delivered in a number of ways through partnership, consultation, licensing, inspection, seizure and prosecution.’
Other elements of the Loughs Agency work was celebrated with speakers sharing the achievements made in areas such as aquaculture, marine tourism, angling development, environmental education and community engagement.
In closing Vice Chair of Loughs Agency Board, Andrew Duncan thanked the support of the Agency’s Sponsor Departments, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment who support the Agency on an equal basis. Mr Duncan also thanked invited guests for their partnership, engagement and support in the past and hoped this would continue to in the future.
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