The Office of Public Works are to carry out emergency works to aid salmon, eel, lamprey and other species to migrate up the River Bandon in West Cork.
As part of a flood relief scheme the OPW installed a large 'rock-ramp' fish pass in the Bandon River in 2018, measuring some 130m.
The rock ramp was designed to mitigate the impact on fish passage at the existing salmon weir, which arose from the deepening of the channel downstream of the weir.
The pass was designed by international experts, with input from national experts in the then Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLH), along with Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).
However concerns have been expressed locally over the past few months about the salmons’ ability to swim upstream.
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The OPW and Inland Fisheries Ireland have now agreed that urgent measures need to be implemented to aid migrating species.
The proposed solution will comprise of large boulders placed in a line across the width of the fish pass - close to the ‘step’ at the upstream end of the pass - to create a pool from which the fish can pass with greater ease.
The use of natural boulders is preferred, but if suitably sized boulders cannot be sourced, the use of large concrete blocks will be considered.
An Appropriate Assessment Screening process is underway, in line with the requirements of the Habitats Directive and a contractor is expected to be appointed to undertake the works shortly.
Subject to environmental approval, it is planned to commence the works in the coming days and to have all works completed before 1 May or shortly afterwards.
While these emergency works will be critical in solving the immediate problem, in addition an investigation into the reasons for the deterioration of the bed material on the fish pass has commenced and a longer term solution will be developed with a view to fully rectifying the issue over the next few months.