Lough Neagh Partnership

Talk by Ciara Laverty 9th October 2023

Lough Neagh has been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently so there was great interest among members of RSPB Antrim Local Group in this talk by Lough Neagh Ranger, Ciara Laverty.

Lough Neagh Partnership, founded in 2002, is a stakeholder organisation aiming to preserve the natural, cultural and built heritage around the Lough as well as promoting tourism and economic development.

Ciara is a member of the Shoreline and Islands team within the partnership. Along with her two colleagues, they carry out species monitoring and habitat management across 100 miles of shoreline. This includes surveying the breeding populations of black-headed gulls and common terns on fifteen offshore islands.

One such island is the torpedo platform near the Loughshore Park in Antrim. In 2020, Lough Neagh Partnership replaced the chick barrier around the platform, installed a removable ladder for access and set up a camera system to livestream views of the nesting birds. At the last count in summer 2023, there were 745 gulls and 130 terns.

The Shoreline and Islands team also liaise with other lough users like Antrim Boat Club and wildfowler groups to alleviate pressures on the local wildlife. An upcoming collaboration with RSPB aims to restore 320 acres of peatland in Derrytresk and Derrlaughin.

But the issue on everyone’s minds at the moment are the foul-smelling blooms of blue-green algae that have erupted all over the Lough through summer and autumn.

Ciara explained that many factors over decades have contributed to the current shocking state of the Lough. Addressing these issues and restoring the Lough to its full potential could take an equally long time. A sobering thought to end a fascinating presentation.