Sea lampreys spawning in the Lower River Shannon SAC

We are currently undertaking a survey of lamprey populations in the Lower River Shannon Special Area of Conservation, and the sea lamprey spawning season is now under way. We recorded increasing levels of nest building activity this week with river levels dropping and water temperatures rising. We have provided some photos and videos below from the survey work this week.

Sea lamprey is listed under Annex II of the European Union Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) and is included in Schedule Four of the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations (S.I. No. 477/2011). Sea lamprey are currently evaluated as being at ‘Unfavourable Status’ in Ireland. The Lower River Shannon is one of the key sites for this species in Ireland.

River Mulkear (4)
River Mulkear at Annacotty. This is as far as most lampreys get on this river as this weir is difficult for sea lampreys to pass, and impossible for river lampreys to get over. A €1.75 million EU LIFE project to address fish passage problems came and went, with no benefits except to the bank accounts of the individuals and organisations concerned.
Old River Shannon at beat 6, downstream of Castleconnell. This is a major spawning area for sea lampreys in the Lower River Shannon SAC. No activity was recorded here this week, although that is expected to change very shortly.

Here is a selection of photos taken during early June 2015. We have also provided a video and will upload some FHD video to our YouTube channel shortly. Most of these photos and the video below were taken on the River Mulkear on the 11th June 2015. We look forward to posting more photos over the next few weeks. Click on any of the photos to activate the gallery.

River Mulkear (2)
Mulkear LIFE project – this sign is the project’s only legacy at Annacotty.
River Mulkear (3)
The benefits for lampreys and other species that were promised and paid for by the EU have not been delivered by Mulkear LIFE. Here the weir stands the same today – barrier to lamprey migration – after €1.7m has been squandered.

It is always disappointing to visit Annacotty weir and know that there was €1.75 million available to address fish passage issues at this site which was squandered on side-show projects, public relations videos, along with jeeps, salaries and generous benefits for the people who ran Mulkear LIFE.  In the end, this project very clearly did not “restore the Lower River Shannon SAC” or come anywhere near this.  Ask the lampreys who still cannot get over this weir. Along with the €1.75 million, the experimental lamprey passes that Mulkear LIFE installed here – these never worked – are long gone while the fish passage issues remain. All Mulkear LIFE did during their programme was become another pressure on lamprey populations in this catchment, with their invasive sea lamprey tagging work and their extended major instream works during the lamprey spawning season. The lampreys are better off that this project is gone, but the fish passage issues remain.

The upstream migration of sea and river lampreys on the Old River Shannon is completely blocked by the ESB’s Parteen Regulating Weir.

As we are now into the sea lamprey spawning season, no instream works should occur in any rivers in which they occur. This especially applies to Natura 2000 rivers designated for this species. Instream works on rivers with sea lamprey populations should only be undertaken after the 1st August each year.

See our YouTube videos here.

Please also see the following links for further information:-

Also contact us if you have any enquires.

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