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

Project Outputs

This project is 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.

This project will continue to monitor the response of shorebirds to a reconfiguration of oyster trestles in Dungarvan Harbour SPA (commenced during 2016/2017 winter season). The proposed reconfiguration of trestles allows for a tidal break to allow shorebirds free movement up and down the shore. The tidal break will provide for a single clear corridor of approximately 400 metres. This break will be considered an exclusion zone with no shellfish culture activities permitted. For example, travel must avoid this area. Travel across this area will only be permitted across the top of the shore (i.e. in the high intertidal zone). The response of shorebirds, in particular Grey plover, to the creation of this exclusion zone will be monitored during 2018/19 as part of this project.

Additional surveying will be carried out in Bannow Bay SPA to augment shorebird counts with a view to providing greater confidence to the conclusions of the AA reports and subsequent management decisions.

Assessing the impact of aquaculture activity in Shannon Estuary and Wexford Harbour will continue during 2019. Monitoring will consist of assessing the interactions between bottom mussel dredging activity in Wexford Harbour and how it interacts with site use by the Greenland Whitefronted Geese at the North Slob portion of the SPA. Shannon Estuary monitoring will consist of targeted counts of shorebirds in Poulnasherry Bay. Baseline winter low water shorebird counts data collection will be required in Castlemaine Harbour SPA in order to identify sensitive/important bird habitat and areas. These data will be used to validate existing and facilitate future licencing decisions.

A broader survey of SPA sites designated for shorebirds will be conducted to calculate annual trends to relate to aquaculture activities at the sites. This will include acquisition of shorebird trend data from NPWS/Birdwatch and mapping of trestle cover (to reflect levels of activities). This study will help determine the relationship between broader trends in bird numbers with aquaculture activities to aid future planning of aquaculture activities. 


The project has a 2 year duration and runs between 2019 and 2020.

Project Outputs: 

monitoring of effectiveness of mitigation measures :

  1. Response of shorebirds to a reconfiguration of oyster trestles in Dungarvan Harbour SPA.
  2. Monitoring of shore birds in Bannow Bay SPA.
  3. Monitoring of targeted counts of shorebirds in Poulnasherry Bay as part of Shannon Estuary.
  4. Baseline low water bird counts in Castlemaine Harbour SPA (Winter 2019).
  5. SPA shorebird population trend analysis allied with site usage (trestle mapping). Production of report.

Reports for each monitoring site to be produced annually in March. The reports outlining the links between SPA site usage and population status of shorebird species with a view to informing future licencing decisions.

Expected Benefit: 

Validation of licencing decisions taken at sites to allow adaptive management of aquaculture in Natura sites.

Further Information: 
Contact Francis O’Beirn, Marine Institute, Rinville, Oranmore, Co. Galway at Francis.XOBeirn@Marine.ie
Project Cost - Projected: 
Project Staus: