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 as part of the 2016 Marine Biodiversity Scheme projects). 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 Appropriate Assessment (AA) reports and subsequent management decisions.
Assessing the impact of aquaculture activity in Shannon Estuary and Wexford Harbour will commence during 2018. 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 White-fronted Geese at the North Slob portion of the SPA. Shannon Estuary monitoring will consist of targeted counts of shorebirds in Poulnasherry Bay. Baseline data collection for low-water shorebird counts in winter will be required in Castlemaine Harbour SPA in order to identify sensitive/important bird habitat and areas. These data will be used to facilitate future licencing decisions.
The project has a 2 year duration and runs between 2017 and 2018.
Reports for each monitoring site to be produced in March 2019.
Validation of licencing decisions taken at sites to allow adaptive management of aquaculture in Natura sites.