Lough Neagh supports several recreational and commercial industries, including sand extraction and a variety of fisheries. Commercial sand extraction had been in operation on the site since the 1930’s and it was deemed important for this industry to gain a better understanding of it’s environmental impact.
THA Aquatic were commissioned to compile baseline characterisation and fisheries studies that would inform the submission of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
Gap analysis, undertaken as part of the baseline, revealed there was little information regarding the ecology and life history of the protected whitefish species, pollan Coregonus Autumnalis.
Endemic to Ireland and with distribution limited to just 5 loughs (Lough Neagh being one), it was essential to design a robust survey that could successfully target this comparatively rare and unknown species.
Our comprehensive survey programme aimed at assessing abundance and distribution.
A novel multi-method approach targeted all year classes of pollan throughout the water column, utilising both static & mobile sampling techniques deployed both within and around the sand extraction area.
Alongside consultation with the local commercial fishing industry to gain an appreciation of their intimate knowledge of the lough and pollan population, THA Aquatic chartered a commercial skipper to enable traditional draft netting activity.