New Joint Protocols in place for North-South Waterway
23rd October 2015
Minister for Natural Resources Joe Mc Hugh TD and the North's Minister for Arts Culture and Leisure, Caral Ni Chuilin today welcome the agreement completed by ESB with both Ministers' Departments to mitigate the loss of a quantity of elvers at ESB's Cathaleen's Fall Hydro Electric Plant on the River Erne.
Minister Mc Hugh said, "I want to commend ESB for the responsibility and diligence they have shown in agreeing a comprehensive package to mitigate the loss of elvers.
"The package includes the purchase and release of eels into the sea and the extension of its highly successful "trap and transport" programme on the Erne to carry eels around the Hydro Electric Plant."
Both Ministers were also briefed on the inter-agency protocol jointly developed by ESB, DCAL and Inland Fisheries Ireland around the entire operation of the trapping and release of eels at the Plant
Minister Ni Chuilin said: "Key to any response to this incident is the requirement to minimise the risk of repeating it and that measures in place, North and South, to protect the vulnerable eel species are not undermined.
"Officials in my Department and Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) have agreed a new protocol to clarify roles and responsibilities regarding the operation of Hydro Electric Plant installations and Fisheries staff from both Government organisations will assist in overseeing the monitoring of elver traps and the subsequent overland transport of them by ESB on the Erne catchment".
Both Ministers also were also happy that ESB had, since the incident, made considerable investment in a full upgrade of elver trapping facilities to the latest available technology at Cathaleen's Fall. This upgrade ensures enhanced aeration and storage facilities for collected elvers before release.
Minister Mc Hugh said "ESB acted on the technology upgrade very quickly. I want to emphasise that a key element of the mitigation agreement also includes a commitment by ESB to keep operational matters under review in the light of future developments in technology".
Minister Ni Chuilin stressed that in contemplation of potential mitigation options, both Departments had sought the views of the Standing Scientific Committee on Eels (SSCE) which is composed of scientists from a range of organisations North and South acting in an independent advisory capacity.
She said; "Independent scientific views on the effectiveness and adequacy of proposed mitigation measures to address the initial loss and was essential for stakeholder confidence and I trust that the new protocols which have been put in place will avoid any repeat of the incident which happened at Easter 2014."
The elements of the mitigation measures are set out below;
Measures in Mitigation of loss of 115kg of Elvers on the River Erne
- A quantity of 8450kgs of silver eel to be acquired by ESB for immediate release to the sea. The release of eels to be overseen by DCAL and ESB will act as observers.
- ESB trap and transport (T&T) operations on the Erne catchment shall be increased by a total quantity of 17,500kgs.
- In recognition of the quantity (12,000kgs) above target transported (post event), by ESB, in 2014 a quantity of 6,500kgs of this 2014 overage shall be counted as part of the agreed additional quantity set out in 2 above.
- The agreed net additional quantity for T&T is therefore 11,000kgs. This is to be achieved by exceeding the annual targets (set by SSCE) for T&T until such time as the net additional quantity (11,000kgs) has been exhausted, but in any event is to be completed within a maximum period of 4 years (i.e. no later than 2018), but may be achieved sooner.
- The additional quantities transported by ESB shall be verified on an annual basis by SSCE. Progress in relation to the additional T&T quantities will be jointly reviewed on an annual basis by all parties.
- In view of the suggestions of SSCE as regards "improved technology to increase future eel escapement", it is also agreed that, in addition to the mitigation actions above, ESB, having already upgraded eel traps to best available, will keep operational matters under review in the light of future developments in technology.