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Project Summary

“Restoration of the Lower Shannon SAC (Mulkear River) for Sea Lamprey, Atlantic Salmon and the European Otter”


Project Title: Enhancement of the Lower Shannon SAC for Sea Lamprey, Atlantic Salmon and European Otter

The Mulkear River (part of the Lower Shannon SAC)

The Mulkear River rises in the Slievefelim and Silvermines mountains in Co. Tipperary and flows through a picturesque landscape, before joining the Shannon River below Annacotty in Co. Limerick. The main river channel is approximately 21.5 km long, and together with its principal tributaries (Dead, Bilboa and Newport rivers), it drains a catchment area of approximately 650 km². This catchment area spans both Counties Limerick and Tipperary. The watershed consists of upland and lowland areas, typical of many Irish river systems. The upland area is extensive and has many mountain peaks in excess of 400m.


Main Project Objective

Through instream rehabilitation work restore degraded habitats along stretches of the Mulkear River, which forms part of the Lower Shannon SAC, for Sea Lamprey, Atlantic Salmon and the European Otter

Sub Objectives

The project aims to:

  • Enhance populations of Atlantic salmon and Sea lamprey through best practice instream rehabilitation work along the Mulkear.
  • Remove obstacles to the annual adult sea lamprey river upstream migration, opening up most of the river catchment for sea lamprey spawning and recruitment.
  • Monitor this work by radio-tracking sea lamprey to determine habitat use and how they approach and navigate obstacles.
  • Improve breeding, resting habitat and food supply for European otters
  • Stop and reverse the damage caused by invasive exotics (Giant hogweed and Japanese knotweed) and restore the natural riparian zone with a management programme to prevent re-colonisation.
  • Run large scale trials on the removal of Himalayan balsam and non-native conifers in the riparian zone.
  • Address local water quality problems by working directly with farmers to develop alternative solutions to cattle drinks.
  • Develop practical prescriptions for the management of a complex river system and its riparian zone, ensuring that the integrity of the Lower Shannon SAC is managed sustainably into the future.
  • Promote the project’s work and the issues affecting the SAC through a range of events at a local and wider community level.
  • Build on the work already undertaken by the Mulkear Catchment Steering Group in developing strong community links with all relevant stakeholders.
  • Produce management prescriptions for habitat rehabilitation for Atlantic salmon, Sea lamprey and European otters which can be applied to SACs in other Natura 2000 sites.
  • Promote education and awareness at local, regional and national levels through various media and educational events.

Expected Results

  • Enhancement of the populations of Atlantic salmon, Sea lamprey and otters along the Mulkear River.
  • Greater awareness and understanding of issues affecting the SAC and how to manage same
  • Development of practical, costed and transferable management prescriptions for habitat rehabilitation for Atlantic salmon, Sea lamprey and European otters for other Natura 2000 sites.
Project Budget: Total budget is €1,740,818 – 50% funded by the EU LIFE Programme
Project Partners: Inland Fisheries Ireland (Project Sponsor & Main Beneficiary), Office of Public Works and Limerick County Council (Associate Beneficiaries)
Project Supporters: NPWS (Partner & Co-financier), North & South Tipperary Councils (Partners & Co-financiers), IFA, ICMSA, Coillte, ESB, Shannon, Mulkear & District Anglers Associations and BirdWatch Ireland
Project Team: Project Manager; Mr. Ruairí Ó Conchúir, Project Officer; Mr. Glen Wightman
Project Timeframe: 5 years (to the 1st January 2014)

Contact Details

Mulkear LIFE – Inland Fisheries Ireland (Limerick), Ashbourne Business Park, Dock Road, Limerick, Ireland E-mail:
Web: /
Tel: + 353 (0)61 300 238 / Fax: + 353 (0)61 300 308 / Mob: + 353 (0)87 062 5582 / + 353 (0)87 7713695

Mulkear LIFE, Inland Fisheries Ireland, Ashbourne Business Park, Dock Road, Limerick, Ireland
Phone: +353 (0)61 300 238   Email: