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.
These sites have a special status in that the features (habitats and species) for which they are designated must, in the long term, not be allowed to deteriorate. They are not closed areas or areas which aquaculture need explicitly to be prohibited. Rather the activity of any industry must be planned in order that the risk they pose to the designated environmental features can be appropriately assessed and the scale and type of activity can be regulated such that the impacts to the environment in the long term are mitigated.
Article 6 of the Habitats Directive requires that the impact of projects or plans, such as aquaculture enterprises, be appropriately assessed in relation to the feature (habitat, species) for which the site was designated, so that the likelihood of significant effects on the feature can be objectively estimated. Only when the likelihood of significance has been discounted can these activities be licenced in Natura 2000 sites. This project will investigate the interactions between proposed aquaculture activities and Natura features (habitats and species) in two SACs and make licencing recommendations and advisory services in relation to subsequent management of aquaculture activities in the sites. The SACs of interest are Mulroy Bay SAC (002159) and Slyne Head Peninsula SAC (002074).
The project had a 1 year duration and project work was carried out in 2016.
Two Appropriate Assessment reports to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to support aquaculture licencing decisions in relation to Natura sites.
1. Improved advisory services in relation to site specific interactions between bird use and aquaculture practices
2. Support to aquaculture licencing decisions in relation to Natura sites