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Development of methods for characterisation and conservation assessment of Inshore Reef Habitats

The definition of marine habitats as ordinated biological community complexes can allow variations in structure and prevalence of species to be used to show change that may be linked to environmental pressures. To date, the inshore intertidal and subtidal reef has not been the subject of the same degree of focused surveys as the offshore. As a result, Ireland’s knowledge of the communities that occur here is qualitative and patchy.

Aquaculture and Fisheries Interactions with SCI Bird Species

The capture of spatial data relating to bird use in inshore and offshore environments and interpreting these data as it relates to various anthropogenic activities is important in implementing management actions. Specifically, the capture of data and subsequent analysis will aid in understanding the interactions between bird species of special conservation interest (SCI) in Special Protection Areas (SPAs), and aquaculture and fisheries activities. This is an important requirement to the management and mitigation of these industries in Natura sites and more widely.

Ecological risk assessment for pressures that vary in time and space

The assessment of ecological risk associated with marine industry activity and development is a key issue in providing advice to licensing authorities and planners in the marine environment. The project would take existing quantitative frameworks for risk assessment and add functions to incorporate effects of applying and withdrawing pressures over short time steps and to enable modelling of population responses to these pressure schedules. Developing these methods will allow us to incorporate them into decision support tools to allow for a more robust comparison between temporally and spatially explicit management measures.

Ecosystem data collection on Irish fisheries surveys in support of MSFD, Natura and Habitat mapping Phase 2

As part of the data collection framework, the Marine Institute conducts ten annual fisheries research surveys at sea to provide fisheries independent data for stock assessment. These surveys can be used as platforms of opportunities for the collection of additional ecosystem data to support the reporting requirements for environmental legislation including MSFD, Natura and MSP.

Measure the effectiveness of mitigation measures of managed activities (aquaculture) carried out in Natura sites – monitoring and baseline data collection.

This project was designed to measure the effectiveness of management or mitigation measures taken as part of aquaculture licencing decisions to reduce or minimise risk to conservation features. Such measures are likely to be of the form of, 1) licence conditions that place certain constraints on activities in certain areas or, 2) redrawing site boundaries. The response of the conservation features to such measures will have to be considered.

Appropriate Assessment of Aquaculture Activities in SACs (2019-2020)

As identified, the aquaculture industry is an important economic activity on all coasts of Ireland. The inshore aquaculture industry produces a variety of shellfish as well as salmon and trout. A significant proportion of the activity occurs within, or proximate to, Natura 2000 sites which are environmentally designated areas under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives.

Assessment of Species Catch Composition in Fisheries Posing a Risk to Biodiversity Phase 2

The estimation of bycatch of protected, endangered and threatened species (PET) in commercial fisheries and its sustainability assessment is an important consideration in the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy, the Marine Strategy Framework directive (Descriptor 1) and the Habitats and Bird’s directives.

Assessment of fisheries/habitat interaction on offshore reefs: SeaRover Phase 2

Consistent with sub-article 6.2 of the Habitats Directive (EC 92/43/EEC), which requires member states to take measures to avoid deterioration of protected habitats, Ireland will undertake a further mapping survey of offshore reefs in 2019 to evaluate status and introduce conservation and management measures in proportion to status and pressures from fishing. This study has been identified as highest priority by DAHG for the marine environment and is based on a letter by DAHCG to DAFM (attached).