Conservation Measures

In 2009, Regulations (S.I. 296 of 2009) were made to set environmental quality objectives for the listed freshwater pearl mussel SAC populations.  The Regulations also required the preparation of Sub-basin Management Plans, to provide the more detailed programmes of measures for the species under Water Framework Directive River Basin Management Plans.  Although the draft plans were not finalised, many of the required measures have been implemented, particularly those for licensed discharges.

NPWS, DAHG developed a national conservation strategy for the freshwater pearl mussel in 2011 that has the objective of ensuring the long-term survival of the species in Ireland, while maintaining its broad geographic range.  It sets out a prioritised approach to the implementation of measures necessary to conserve the species and prioritise eight SAC populations that encompass approximately 80% of the Irish population.

KerryLIFE is a key conservation measure for the freshwater pearl mussel in Ireland.  This EU (LIFE nature) and Irish exchequer funded project aims to demonstrate conservation measures in farming and forestry to support restoration of two priority freshwater pearl mussel populations.  NPWS, DAHG is co-ordinating this five and a half year partnership project.  Further information is available on the KerryLIFE website and here.

In addition, since 2009 NPWS has run a number of projects to further identify and characterise pressures in priority catchments and to develop appropriate conservation measures.  A methods manual for assessing damage in peatland and upland areas was trialed in three priority catchments and is available here.  The causes of river bank erosion in the Bundorragha catchment have been investigated and a contract is on-going to design appropriate remediation measures.

A programme to breed Nore pearl mussels was initiated in 2005 by the NRA and NPWS.  Captive breeding of Margaritifera is very complex, requiring high levels of skill and specialist, pristine facilities for adult and juvenile mussels, as well as trout.  In spite of considerable effort, the project failed to deliver any mussels of five years of age, or above.  Juvenile mussels dropped off fish on a number of occasions, however most died within one to two years.  Episodic high suspended solids in the water supply caused both adult and juvenile mussel deaths.  Critically, adults did not brood glochidia in captivity.  On decommissioning in 2014, approximately 30,000 juvenile mussels were translocated to the Nore at Durrow.  A report of the programmes findings in available here.