Press Release - Friends of the Irish Environment 23rd Aug 2019
Kenmare River mussel expansion will damage biodiversity
New Government Report ( https://www.npws.ie/publications/article-17-reports/article-17-reports-2019 ) to EU records damage from mussel longline cultivation in West cork.
A report released this week from Ireland to the EU detailing damage done to valuable protected habitats in Ireland through mussel line cultivation has been cited in an objection to new 3 km long mussel longlines proposed for the Kenmare River, a Special Area of Conservation Natura 2000 Site.
In supporting its opposition to the proposal Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE] cited this week’s publication of ‘The Status of Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland’. The Report, by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, is required every seven years under the Habitats Directive. The new Report details the covering of the maerl beds in Dunmanus Bay where mussel faeces has led to extensive algae growth. Maërl, a purple-pink hard seaweed that forms spiky underwater ‘carpets’ on the seabed, provides vital shelter to many and varied marine creatures.
The Report also cites the invasive and ‘opportunistic’ sea squirt now recorded as “dominant” within the maërl beds in the immediate vicinity of the Dunmanus Bay mussel longlines. A spokesman for FIE pointed out that ‘in turn, these invasive sea squirts compete with native shellfish for food and habitat, further degrading the protected environment’.
‘It is clear from the maps’, the submission states, that despite the application form denying that the site is in a designated nature protection area, ‘the 225 hectare site 12 km from Kenmare is within the Kenmare River Special Area of Conservation and covers a significant area of EU protected habitats, including reefs which are a protected habitat in their own right. In addition, the proposed transport route is likely to disturb Harbour Seals at one of the known breeding and haul out sites. Kenmare River Special Area of Conservation holds an important population of Common Seal, and otter use the site. Both Common (Harbour) Seal and Otter are listed for protection in Annex II of the E.U. Habitats Directive.’
FIE points out that the designation of the Kenmare River as a Shellfish Water in 2009 was ‘not drawn to ensure future aquaculture licences would be permitted. The area was drawn to protect the aquatic habitat of bivalve and gastropod molluscs including wild species, not as business interests contend, to define an area to be filled with mussel lines.’
The submissions also provide maps showing the proposal’s impact on the surrounding High Value Landscape and the Wild Atlantic Way.
A 28 day period for public consultation closes today.
Friends of the Irish Environment: Tony Lowes 353 (0)27 74771 / 353 (0)87 2176316
Daithí Ó hÉalaithe (Irish language) +353 (0)87 6178852
Link to submission
Link to Report
The Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland, HABITAT ASSESSMENTS, Volume 2
2019; page 75
Link to this Press release