I propose to take Questions Nos. 573 to 575, inclusive, together.
I am advised by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) that the term “experimental strategies” is considered to cover a wide range of habitat – fisheries interactions in the drained rivers managed by the Office of Public Works (OPW).
As previously advised, OPW undertakes maintenance on about 2000 km of channels annually. OPW uses an environmental guidance procedure, agreed with IFI, to ensure habitat retention and to implement value-added works that are consistent with the OPW’s compliance requirement with the Water Framework Directive and with fisheries issues.
In the overall planning process, the two organisations under their joint agreement, have also examined the rationale for experimental strategies in respect of:
- reconnection of old channel meanders cut off in drainage works;
- mitigating for gravel traps on OPW channels, constructed as part of the original schemes, that may be impeding fish passage and sediment transport; and
- mitigations for fish passage at bridge structures etc. that can be addressed in OPW work programmes
As previously confirmed the agreement between IFI and OPW was signed in mid-2018 and provides that “proposals from 3rd parties to undertake in-stream and/or riparian works should be tested in advance to assess appropriateness of interventions and the most relevant measures, if the works are to proceed”. The agreement envisages IFI undertaking surveys in this context on an agreed small number of cases annually.
The four sites referred to are all third party projects proposed in 2017 but not progressed by the third party applicants. IFI has advanced matters by organising that these sites are surveyed to facilitate progression of the projects. IFI will, therefore, conduct pre-fishery enhancement surveys on four locations in 2019, in line with agreement with OPW. IFI envisages that further such surveying will be undertaken in 2020 as part of the on-going IFI-OPW programme.
The previous questions, Nos. 592 and 593, referenced by the Deputy do no appear to relate to uptake on fishery enhancement funding schemes. In that regard, I assume the Deputy is referring to the Salmon and Sea Trout Conservation Fund.
If this is the case I can advise the Deputy that uptake in the most recent call, following the expansion of the scheme, has been as expected, with 32 expressions of interest received by IFI, for this scheme alone, with an investment value in excess of €1 million.
I have already offered the Deputy a briefing from IFI on all these matters and, in view of the questions tabled by her in relation to fisheries schemes, I extend that offer again.