ESB has the
capacity to produce 220MW of clean energy by harnessing the power of five
rivers enough to power 180,000 homes. As this activity impacts on fish movements
and migration, we have statutory responsibility to manage, conduct and preserve
the fisheries throughout the Shannon, Erne, Liffey, Lee, and Clady catchments.
committed to putting significant resources into the conservation of the
fisheries to assist with their accessibility and enhancing their amenity value.
ESB Fisheries’ role is part of our organisation’s larger, strategic goal: our
commitment to Ireland’s environment and natural landscape; and engaging
sustainability as our core value; with particular focus on waterways and fish
We operate various
fisheries conservation programmes on the rivers Shannon, Erne, Liffey, Lee and
Clady/Crolly. On the Shannon for instance, we protect fish habitats and enable
migration through the addition of spawning gravels, rock, and boulders, along
the operation of fish passes to assist fish passing through man-made structures
such as the dams. Fencing to protect livestock access to the rivers, along with
improvements to public access to the fisheries have also been added.
We operate a
trap and transport (T+T) for migrating silver eel. Juvenile eel coming from the
Atlantic are captured in elver boxes at the dams and released into freshwater
habitats upstream of the hydro stations. When fully grown the adult eel (referred
to as silver eels) migrate downstream and are captured in large river nets by contractors
working on behalf of ESB. They are then safely transported and released
downstream of the stations where they continue their ocean migration.
This activity is undertaken each year for
elvers (March-September) and for adult eel from September to February.
This programme operates under the Irish National Eel Management Plan (NEMP).
This NEMP came about as a result of the 2009 EU Eel Regulation which specified
that all Irish large-scale hydro stations undertake T+T on each of the
7.5 million elvers are captured and safely released on an annual basis.
Work is regularly carried out to keep the
traps clean during the elver monitoring season, but some growth can appear in
between maintenance periods when they are not in service. ESB strongly urges
members of the public to always keep a safe distance from the elver traps at
the hydro stations and weirs as the area can be dangerous where sudden
discharges of water through the station can occur at any stage.
ESB has heavily invested resources into the
trapping and transport programme and protocols for both juvenile and adult eels
with Ireland now at the forefront in Europe in this regard. Details of these
activities may be found at the Inland Fisheries Ireland website (under the
National Eel Management Plan), with whom ESB work in partnership with, along
with the Marine Institute.
and operate fish passes at all of the hydro catchments which include fish
passes located upon the Shannon (Ardnacrusha and Parteen Weir); the Erne
(Cathaleen’s Fall and Cliff), the Lee (Inniscarra and Carrigadrohid), the
Liffey (Lexilip) and the Clady (Gweedore weir). Salmon smolt (juvenile salmon)
migration protocols are also operated each year at all of the above sites.
This means that there is a site-specific generation
regime in place which assists the downstream movement of juvenile salmon for
the period mid-March to June.
on most European and Irish rivers have declined dramatically in recent decades
– primarily due to declining stocks and marine survival rates of less than 5% -
so it’s essential that we continue to support the salmon population where we
All the work completed
by ESB is detailed in the Annual Reports of the ESB Fisheries Conservation
unit. This report which is for the relevant government minister is also
published on the ESB website. The
work is largely overseen by Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Marine Insititute
with whom ESB often liaise with.
Also, a large
proportion of our work also utilises a partnership style approach. These
partnerships are usually with local angling clubs and development associations
but also include third level institutions such as University College Cork and
the National University of Ireland, Galway.