IFI encourages action to reduce impact of climate change and water abstractions on Ireland’s freshwater lakes and rivers
Freshwater lakes, rivers and their aquatic communities are becoming increasingly vulnerable due to water abstractions and the impact of climate change. That is according to Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) who issued a call today (27.02.23) to encourage future development planning applications to consider the impact of water abstractions on Ireland’s rivers, lakes, and fish species.
Water level fluctuations caused by numerous pressures, including abstractions, can negatively impact aquatic ecosystems and consequently, the services they provide to the local economy and to aquatic biodiversity.
Higher water temperatures as a result of climate change are also said to have an impact on the natural water cycles of our rivers and lakes, causing thermal regimes in lakes and rivers to change. This results in a reduction in wetted area and a decrease in suitable habitat for fish and other aquatic communities during droughts.
IFI is cautioning that changes in the flow or abstraction of water in a catchment can be extremely harmful to migratory fish species such as salmon, sea trout, and eel, which are already stressed as a result of climate change. Such adverse conditions can reduce the success of fish migration and demonstrate how vulnerable these species are to changing climatic conditions and other pressures.
Francis O’ Donnell, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “It is imperative that we ensure where possible, all water resources are managed sustainably to protect our natural resources. This involves making sure that river flows and lake levels can sustain aquatic environments and biota while also allowing the use of water for drinking water supply and other purposes such as agricultural, commercial, industrial and recreational use.
IFI strongly advises that the impacts of climate change should be considered in all planning applications for developments that affect the natural hydrological water cycle and the wider aquatic community. IFI has a statutory responsibility to protect salmonids and other freshwater fish species including Eels and this will remain our first priority.”
Dr. Cathal Gallagher, Head of Research at Inland Fisheries Ireland added: “IFI’s Climate Change Mitigation Research Programme was set up in 2019 to assess the impact of climate change on Ireland’s fish and habitats. The ongoing research is already identifying areas in catchments where fish species and habitats are most under threat, but also areas that are showing resilience to climate change. It is important that we work together to safeguard the future of our natural resources.”
For more information on IFI’s Climate Change Mitigation Research programme, visit www.fisheriesireland.ie