RPS has recently been appointed by Donegal County Council as lead consultant for the Practical Implementation of Freshwater Pearl Mussel Measures in Ireland and Northern Ireland, a project aimed at helping to secure the conservation of this flagship species. The project is funded under the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund under the INTERREG IVA Programme, as part of the Environment strand, under Priority 2.2. The Project Study Area covers Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland.
FPM is protected throughout the island of Ireland under European and national law. The locations of designated FPM populations on the island of Ireland are shown in the map. Virtually all of these populations are at unfavourable conservation status and evidence suggests that recruitment of juvenile mussels to the adult population has substantially failed in recent decades. Unless measures are put in place to ensure successful breeding and recruitment, the existing populations will go to extinction as the standing population of adult mussels dies off.
As part of the effort to conserve the pearl mussel, the FPM Project is undertaking the tasks outlined below on a cross border basis through engagement with agencies and parties interested in the conservation of this flagship species.
1. Preparation of management strategies for a number of pearl mussel catchments. Project management strategies will be prepared for mussel populations in three catchments; the Ballinderry, and the Owenkillew, both in County Tyrone, and the Swanlinbar cross-border catchment in Counties Fermanagh and Cavan. The strategies will identify pressures and impacts on FPM and propose mitigation measures to address these issues.
2. Testing of Selected Measures that are designed to protect mussel populations. This will establish whether actions are likely to be efficient and cost effective.
3. Drafting of Codes of Practice for various sectors to allow for a sustainable approach that prevents impact on the mussel’s survival.