MulkearLIFE was delighted to have the opportunity this week to present its work on sea lamprey to an international lamprey conference. The event which was hosted by the Institute of Fisheries Management, took place in the National Science Leaning Centre at the University of York. It was attended by over 80 people, including leading researchers and lamprey experts from 17 different countries. It included individuals from North America, Scandinavia and the Iberian peninsula. Ireland was represented with colleagues from Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Loughs Agency.
A great many interesting presentations were given, including one by Dr. Kjell Sjoberg of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences who gave a fascinating presentation on river lamprey fishing practices in the Baltic Sea area. This included an insight into traditional fishing practices in the region and the equipment used in different Baltic counties.
Margaret Docker, University of Manitoba, presented on environmental DNA work and lamprey distribution sampling. The eDNA work was very similar to work on the Mulkear River conducted last year by researchers from UCD. Dr. James King, Inland Fisheries Ireland, outlined the approach developed in Ireland between the Office of Public Works and Inland Fisheries Ireland to ensure best practice is adhered to in maintenance and management of OPW drainage works. The talk, entitled ‘Channel cleaning and juvenile lamprey: impacts, recovery opportunity?’ outlined the 10 point best practice protocol which the OPW now follows and gave case studies from throughout Ireland.
Dr. Martyn Lucas, Durham University, gave an overview of the exploitation of European river lamprey for angling bait in England and Europe. The presentation including some interesting historical images of traditional fishing practices.
Dr. Sean Rooney, IFI, outlined the various manmade barriers which sea lamprey face on their return migration in various Irish river systems.
MulkearLIFE’s project manager, Ruairí Ó Conchúir, gave a detailed presentation on the project’s work on sea lamprey over the past four years. The presentation outlined the key elements of the project’s work since 2010, including the project’s initial tagging and tracking work. The main focus of the presentation was however MulkearLIFE’s work to ease the passage of sea lamprey with the installation of the two sea lamprey passes (sea lamprey peg tiles) at Annacotty.
The process followed to design, manufacture and install this was outlined, as was the early morning (from 04:00 to 08:00 hrs) and night-time (from 21:00 to 01:00) monitoring work. The monitoring results over three years (2011, 2012 and 2013) of sea lamprey ascending Annacotty Weir, using the lamprey pegs specifically designed and installed by MulkearLIFE in 2011, was presented to the international conference.
The project’s work at Ballyclogh, where the weir was partially removed, was also presented. The partial removal of Ballyclogh weir in 2013 has provided permanent passage for sea lamprey and Atlantic Salmon and reduced the risk of unauthorised fishing activity below Ballyclogh weir. It was noted that this work has opened up an additional 180km of habitat for sea lamprey and created almost 1km of prime habitat directly upstream. In addition, immediately upstream of Ballyclogh, excellent pool and riffle habitat has opened up for almost 1km. Finally, the presentation gave an overview of MulkearLIFE’s sea lamprey spawning surveys throughout the catchment.
Yesterday (Thursday 8th May 2014), delegates were taken to visit various sites during the fieldtrip element of the conference. This included extremely interesting sites on the River Derwent.
MulkearLIFE would like to sincerely thank the Institute of Fisheries Management for affording the project the opportunity to present its work to such a distinguished international audience in such a well organised and focused conference.