Call for the creation of a Corrib Forum

The Who’s Who in the Corrib event, held on the of 2nd of September in Claregalway, heard calls on the need for a Corrib Forum to bring together the many State agencies and voluntary groups that are working to protect the Corrib.

The Corrib workshop included over 40 representatives from Galway City & County Councils, EPA, Inland Fisheries, National Parks & Wildlife, Universities, angling groups and Corrib Beo. The Irish Ocean Literacy Network was also present, represented by the IOLN Secretariat members Noirin Burke and Maria Vittoria Marra. The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Trish Murphy (Inishowen Rivers Trust) & Mark Horton (All Ireland Rivers Trust Director), with support from LAWPRO. Dr. Bernadette White of LAWPRO looked ahead to ‘Catchment Plans’ and the potential for Catchment Forums in the new River Basin Management Plan for Ireland, due out by the end of 2023.

The workshop discussed the challenges facing Lough Corrib: these included a loss of water quality, invasive species, climate change, lack of public awareness of the Lake and a confused mosaic of State bodies – people just don’t know “who is in charge of the Corrib?”. The groups then looked at “How can we work together to make things happen for the Corrib?”: based on the feedback, there was a strong sense that we need an entity with a holistic view, to mobilize the resources towards a common vision for the Corrib.

John Gibbons of Oughterard spoke eloquently at the public session: “The Owenriff river is dying before our eyes: we are on a race to the bottom on the Corrib!“.

Billy Kavanagh, East Corrib Alliance, stated that the ECA was established by four angling clubs with the aims of improving water quality in our rivers, enhancement and restoration of habitat around these rivers, and trout stream development. “We felt we had to do something as a matter of urgency and we feel that the involvement of farmers/landowners is of the utmost importance.

Micheál O Cinnéide, co-chair of Corrib Beo, heralded the importance of a Corrib Forum, where agencies, Council staff and voluntary groups could share experience, set priorities and work on a long-term plan for the management of the Corrib.  Gerry Lydon of Corrib Beo thanked LAWPRO for the initiative: “Corrib communities are working locally for years, but we need a collective approach, leadership and shared learning.”

The Corrib information day included an open session, where members of the public were able to meet the participants at their stands and learn about the many groups and projects working towards the protection of the Corrib. The turnout showed a strong level of public interest and a mandate for LAWPRO to continue its work with Corrib groups and agencies.

The Who’s Who in the Corrib event was a great opportunity for the IOLN Secretariat to liaise with the organisations involved and engage them in a conversation aimed at defining actions to address the need for the Network to support initiatives focused on the interface habitats between inland waters and the ocean that emerged at last June’s IOLN regional meeting in Cork. The discussion was prompted by Noirin Burke and Maria Vittoria Marra with questions about the main challenges faced by individuals, communities and organisations to protecting, monitoring and promoting the Corrib as well as the state of the source-to-sea management at local, regional and national level, and it focused on how the connection between upstream and downstream stakeholders can be increased, and what role the IOLN can play in this. The event attendees engaged in the conversation pointed out the importance of dedicated networking events to bring together both freshwater and marine organisations as well as shared campaigns on litter (e. g. disposable vapes) or focused on key species for transitional waters (e. g. otters, swans and seals). The IOLN will take all of these suggestions in account in designing the plan of actions for the coming months.

This blog post is based on a press statement developed by Corrib Beo Partnership Ltd. The photo above features from left to right Gerard Lydon, Hazel Morrison, Eoghan Concannon & Micheál O Cinnéide of Corrib Beo, Caitriona Cunningham of Claregalway Tidy Towns & Brendan Smith of Galway National Park City.

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