Public Consultation on the draft River Basin Management Plans for Ireland 2018–2021

(Posted 8 June 2017)

The Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government have published the draft River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018–2021 and are now inviting submissions, observations and comments on the proposed plans during a six-month public consultation process.

The second cycle River Basin Management Plan takes a very different approach to river basin management planning to that adopted during the first cycle plans. A single river basin district approach to plan preparation has now been taken, with a much improved evidence base to underpin decision making. Implementation structures have been strengthened to ensure more effective and co-ordinated delivery of measures. It is intended to publish the final approved River Basin Management Plan by December 2017.

Interested parties are invited to make written submissions or comments to help inform the development of the final plans no later than 5.30pm on Thursday 31st August 2017.

See the draft plan here


Persistent Organic Pollutants: draft Stockholm Convention UK implementation plan 2017

(Posted 8 June 2017)

Defra want to know what you think about the proposed new actions in their updated national implementation plan. This plan sets out the progress made since 2013 in reducing Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). It also proposes new actions for improving progress and implementing the requirements for new POPs that have been added.

The implementation plan sets out how the UK is meeting its commitment for the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants. This global treaty protects human health and the environment from Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

This consultation closed on 14 April 2017 and feedback is now being analysed.


Banning the landing of egg-bearing lobsters and crawfish in England

(Posted 8 June 2017)

Defra want to know your thoughts on proposals to introduce a national ban on landing egg-bearing lobsters and crawfish in England. This ban will help protect these important shellfish stocks. Defra particularly want to hear from fishing vessel owners and fishing licence or shellfish entitlement holders.

The consultation closed on 14 May 2017 and feedback is now being analysed.



Scotland's bathing water season begins

(Posted 8 June 2017)

The final classifications, now issued by the EU, show that out of the 84 officially designated bathing waters in Scotland in 2016:

  • 26 have been rated as ‘excellent’ (up from 17, previous season)
  • 36 are classed as ‘good’
  • 11 have achieved the ‘sufficient’ standard
  • 11 have been rated as ‘poor’ (down from 17, previous season)

Overall water quality has improved again for the start of the new bathing water season, with nine additional bathing waters meeting the much tighter ‘excellent’ water quality standards. The new classifications will be displayed by SEPA and Local Authorities across Scotland’s beaches until mid-September.

Tailored improvement plans, prepared by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, reflecting collaboration with its partners, are ongoing at each of the bathing waters rated as ‘poor’ to raise all designated bathing waters across Scotland to the new standards by 2020.


Blue Flag and Seaside Award winners announced

(Posted 8 June 2017)

A total of 143 English beaches are now flying a Blue Flag or Seaside Award. For the first time ever, one of Blackpool’s beaches – South Beach – has made the grade. Two more iconic seaside destinations, Brighton Central beach and Hove Lawns, will be joining other south coast winners which are proudly flying the flag.

68 beaches across England will be flying an international Blue Flag Award (an increase of seven this year) and 111 beaches have been given the Seaside Award. These awards are managed by Keep Britain Tidy. The increasing number of Blue Flags is fantastic news for all those who have worked hard to improve our seas and beaches, including local authorities, water companies and local businesses and communities.


Seaweed cultivation policy statement 2017

(Posted 8 June 2017)

This policy statement from the Scottish government covers commercial seaweed cultivation, development size, and Integrated Multi Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) development.

Different species of seaweed have differing habitat requirements, but all require good water flow to provide nutrients. The west coast of Scotland has suitable inlets and sea lochs for seaweed cultivation, with many already used for aquaculture production. There may also be potential for seaweed growing in other areas.

Commercial seaweed cultivation is considered to have the potential to take place on a number of different production scales. For the purpose of this policy, two scales have been identified: small-medium and large.

Read more at:


Solent Oyster Restoration Project

(Posted 8 June 2017)

This project, led by the Blue Marine Foundation, is working to restore the native oyster to the Solent, the strait that separates the Isle of Wight from mainland England and which once supported the biggest oyster fishery in Europe. This ambitious project has brought together a range of partners and stakeholders and aims to reintroduce 5 million oysters to the waterway over the next five years.

Oysters are capable of filtering 200 litres of water a day, helping to keep our inshore waters clear and more productive while also supporting many species of marine flora and fauna through the habitat they provide and as a source of food. In the UK the population has halved over the last 25 years, while globally an estimated 85% of oyster beds and reef habitats have been lost. The Solent native oyster fishery, once the largest in Europe in the 1970s and early 80s, has collapsed and was temporarily closed in 2013.  Historical overfishing, disease, invasive species and pollution from both land and sea have all contributed to the oyster population loss.

The restoration of the native oyster will provide wide-ranging ecological and social benefits for the region over the long term by helping to improve water quality, foster valuable habitats and re-establish an important strand of the economy on the South Coast. A number of restoration techniques are being used including protected seabed sites, ranching areas and cages suspended from pontoons in marinas across the Solent.


Welsh Water and Natural Resources Wales in joint initiative on pesticides

(Posted 8 June 2017)

Welsh Water has launched a new initiative to encourage farmers, growers and landowners in targeted areas to consider ‘smarter’ ways of weed, pest and disease control that do not impact on people, water or wildlife. PestSmart, an initiative between Welsh Water and Natural Resources Wales, supported by the Welsh government and the agriculture and environment sectors, encourages people to consider the way they manage their land to help improve raw water quality before it reaches water treatment works.


Defra announces £6.3 million investment in rivers

(Posted 8 June 2017)

Funding is available based on the scale at which a catchment partnership operates.  This remains unchanged from 2016/17 and is as follows:

  • a full catchment scale partnership can apply for up to £15,000
  • a sub-catchment scale partnership can apply for up to £7,500


Poole Rocks Marine Conservation Zone website

(Posted 8 June 2017)

Discover life under the waves of Poole Rocks MCZ using this new website. Designated as a marine conservation zone in 2013, Poole Rocks MCZ protects around 4 km2 of seabed. Since 1997, volunteer divers have surveyed marine life on the rocky reefs.

The Dorset Integrated Seabed survey (DorIS) has mapped the Dorset seabed using sonar technology. This gives accurate information about the local seabed features. On the map you can explore the rocky reefs within the MCZ boundary and take a look at other incredible undersea formations around the Dorset coast.


Project to bring nature back to the River Tyne

(Posted 8 June 2017)

Communities along the River Tyne will have the opportunity to help migrating fish such as salmon and sea trout return to the headwaters of the river as part of an ambitious new project being led by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

Fish are highly adapted animals able to swim, leap or wriggle their way up many of Scotland’s rivers, but on the River Tyne they struggle with the number and sheer size of the obstacles blocking their journey. Obstacles include a number of disused weirs, examples of a long history of the river being altered for human benefit. The project will look at options for improving the passage of migratory fish at the historic structures along the river, increasing the accessible area of the catchment. Work is being funded through the Water Environment Fund (WEF) which SEPA administrates for the Scottish Government.

After spending a year or more at sea, salmon and sea trout would normally return to the headwaters of a catchment to lay their eggs. However, SEPA figures estimate that approximately 12% of the good salmon and trout habitat in Scotland is currently inaccessible due to man-made structures. As much as 90% of the habitat in the River Tyne and its tributaries is often inaccessible.

More information on the Water Environment Fund is available at:


Free joint events on integrated catchment delivery in 2017/18

(Posted 8 June 2017)

These events are collaboratively designed to fill knowledge gaps on what works well, what doesn’t and the best available flood and other evidence at a catchment scale.

The purpose of these events is to:

  • Share evidence and help embed learning at a catchment scale
  • Build future relationships between communities and partnerships.

The events will provide:

  • 14 days on improving profitable farming and land management, flood risk management, fish and wildlife passage and integrated catchment delivery
  • Seeing good practice at 12 different catchments across 8 counties in England
  • Exchange of practice and costing of lessons learnt to guide where we can save money

More than 10 organisations are giving their free time voluntarily to provide over £100,000 worth of events.

See the River Restoration Centre website for more details:


The 2017 UK River Prize & Nigel Holmes Trophy

(Posted 8 June 2017)

The UK River Prize celebrates the achievements of those individuals and organisations working to improve the natural functioning of our rivers and catchments, and benefitting society by having a healthy natural environment.

After much deliberation the judges selected the overall winner as the River Avon (Hampshire, Wiltshire & Dorset) for the excellent demonstration of a whole river approach to restoration and management. The project partners were awarded the Nigel Holmes Trophy, named after a hugely influential and passionate river restoration and conservation advocate.

The River Avon Restoration Programme was set up to restore the River Avon Special Area of Conservation to a naturally functioning river system to meet the government’s obligations under the Water Framework and Habitats Directives.

To read more and find out about the other finalists, click here


£2.2 million project to restore freshwater fish habitats in Cornish rivers

(Posted 8 June 2017)

The Westcountry Rivers Trust has launched the ‘Water for Growth’ project to restore freshwater fish habitats in two iconic Cornish rivers – the Camel and the Fowey. Working in partnership with the Environment Agency, Natural England and South West Water, the Trust has secured £1.6 million of European funding to enhance the rivers, benefitting wildlife and people.

This capital investment project will focus on improving habitats for declining salmon and trout by making it easier for fish to migrate and spawn. The project will enable the Trust to remove up to 20 more barriers to fish migration, working with landowners and local interest groups. The team aims to open up over 150 km across both rivers to migrating fish. The Trust will also restore a number of sites across both rivers. Working with volunteers, they will clean gravel to restore spawning grounds, increase light on shaded gravels to increase invertebrate life and create habitats in the rivers and on the banks to ensure they can support all stages of fish development.


Fish stocks boost for endangered pearl mussel

(Posted 8 June 2017)

Thousands of sea trout with pearl mussel larvae attached have been released into rivers in Northumberland to stock rivers for anglers and to help protect the future of a critically endangered species, the freshwater pearl mussel.

Pearl fishing and water pollution from industry have led to worldwide decline of the pearl mussel. A healthy population of endangered freshwater pearl mussels is important for water quality – each mussel filters 50 to 70 litres of water. They improve the quality of the habitat, increasing the ecological diversity, which includes juvenile trout and salmon numbers.

The larvae will drop off the gills of the sea trout towards the end of May where they will settle on the river bed. Given the right conditions, these juveniles could survive into adulthood and live for up to 100 years.


Thames Water ordered to pay record £20 million for river pollution

(Posted 8 June 2017)

Thames Water Utilities Ltd (Thames Water) has been fined an unprecedented £20,361,140.06 in fines and costs for a series of significant pollution incidents on the River Thames. These offences were caused by negligence and led to the death of wildlife and distress to the public.

The prosecution saw six separate cases - which caused widespread, repeated, sustained and avoidable pollution at a number of sites from 2012 to 2014. It is the biggest freshwater pollution case in the Environment Agency’s 20 year history.

The court heard how Thames Water’s repeated illegal discharges of sewage into the River Thames, and its tributaries, resulted in major environmental damage including visible sewage along 14 km of the river, and the death of birds, fish and invertebrates.

The multiple incidents from the company’s wastewater sites in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire caused significant distress and disruption to the public. Riverside residents, farmers, local businesses, anglers, and recreational river users were all affected. Investigations carried out by Environment Agency officers revealed a catalogue of failures by TWUL management. This involved repeated discharges of untreated or poorly treated raw sewage into rivers, disregarding risks identified by their own staff and failing to react adequately to thousands of high priority alarms used to alert them to the serious problems.

The Court heard how for weeks, untreated sewage, amounting to millions of litres per day, was diverted to the rivers and away from the treatment process, although the incoming sewage flow was well within the designed capacity of the treatment works. In many instances less than half of the incoming sewage was sent for treatment.


Fully Documented Fishery scheme helping to reduce discards of quota species

(Posted 8 June 2017)

The MMO is seeking to continue work with the fishing industry on the Fully Documented Fisheries (FDF) scheme (running since 2011) – looking at ways of tackling the problem of discarding fish. The scheme incentivises fishermen to stop wasteful discarding of dead fish back into the sea and avoid catches of unmarketable fish.

Fishing vessels taking part have to land all the fish of species of interest that they catch so they all count against their quota, ie they are ‘Fully Documenting’ their catch.  If they use up their entire quota for these species they would have to stop fishing altogether, rather than continue and discard over-quota catch. These schemes are voluntary and it is only with the support and co-operation of the fishing industry that they can be undertaken. There are currently three schemes running: one in the North Sea focusing on cod, one in the Western English Channel focusing on Dover sole, another in the Western English Channel focusing on haddock. The MMO also gathers data on the discards of other fish species in the trials.

The information from FDF trials helps to improve understanding of how a discard ban (the Landing Obligation) will work in a particular fishery.  For example, can a fishing vessel use modified nets to avoid catching unwanted fish?  The trials can also help us to understand where there are ‘choke’ species issues. That is, where it is very difficult for a fisherman to avoid catching a particular fish species and this might mean that a fishery has to be stopped before the end of a year as they run out of quota.

The trials have shown to significantly reduce the amount of quota species being thrown away at sea.

Read more at:


The environmental impacts of marine litter

(Posted 8 June 2017)

Litter has become a recognised issue within the marine environment. However, there are still many questions regarding the types of litter that occur and their impacts. Marine litter is consistently highlighted as an issue in marine planning and though there has been work covering the intertidal area, there remains a large gap in knowledge in understanding litter as an issue in the seas beyond the intertidal.

At present, the Marine Management Organisation has very little information on the potential nature, sources and type of impacts of different types of marine litter as it is a relatively new area of research. Although plastic in the seas has been covered in the press, work on this subject is still relatively undeveloped. Any improvements to this evidence base will help to deliver improved sustainable development, through providing more information to help improve marine management. There are drivers for doing this, through OSPAR requirements and to support good environmental status through the UK Marine Strategy.

This requirement will catalogue the different types of marine litter and its sources, and will identify their impacts on the marine environment. It will look at spatial distribution of different types of marine litter and, if possible, link impacts spatially too. Suggestions for appropriate management responses should also form part of this work.


The Common Fisheries Policy – Brexit Explained

(Posted 8 June 2017)

This is a useful document covering the Common Fisheries Policy and the possible implications of Brexit.

The CFP is the mechanism and set of rules through which European fishing fleets and fish stocks are managed. It began in 1970 and was most recently reformed in 2014. All member states are members, but only 23 of the EU 28 are coastal states. It gives all European fishing fleets equal access to EU waters to create fair competition. It aims to ensure that European fishing is sustainable, balancing the desire to maximise catches with conserving fish stocks.

The CFP has four main policy areas:

  • Fisheries management – ensuring the long-term viability of fish stocks like cod, tuna, and prawns in EU waters.
  • International policy and co-operation – working with non-EU countries and international organisations to manage shared fisheries, including Norway, Iceland, Morocco and Cabo Verde.
  • Market and trade policy – creating fair competition in the market and setting standards on seafood products sold within the EU to protect consumers, such as requirements for clear product labels.
  • Funding – money to support fishermen transitioning to more sustainable fishing and assist coastal communities in diversifying their economies. The UK has chosen to spend €19.3m of its EU funding on improving sustainability in the sector during 2014-2020.

The document also covers ‘How does the CFP work?’, ‘How are quotas set?’, and ‘Why do some in the UK have issues with the CFP?’

In connection with Brexit, the document addresses:

  • After Brexit, what happens to the UK fishing industry?
  • Can the UK do whatever it wants with fisheries policy after Brexit?
  • Will devolved countries have a say on fisheries policy after Brexit?

Read the full article at:



Rivers Trusts expand across Ireland

(Posted 8 June 2017)

There are now a total of 14 rivers trusts across the island of Ireland.

In Northern Ireland, the rivers trust network stretches from the Lagan River in the east to the Erne system in the west, with a total of eight trusts across the Province.  Two of these rivers trusts, the River Blackwater Catchment trust and Erne Rivers Trust are cross-border, making them the first international rivers trusts.

In the Republic of Ireland, the well-established Slaney Rivers Trust and Nore Rivers Trust have been joined by a growing number of newly formed trusts, including Inishowen Rivers Trust in County Donegal, Maigue Rivers Trust in County Limerick and the Waterville Lakes and Rivers Trust in County Kerry.  A newly established Association on the River Moy in County Mayo is building the foundations for what could become another Irish rivers trust. These trusts join the 44 in England and Wales and 25 rivers and fisheries trusts in Scotland.


European bathing water quality in 2016

(Posted 8 June 2017)

The European Environment Agency and the European Commission publish the annual European bathing water quality report. The information contained in this edition – which covers bathing water quality in 2016 in the EU Member States, Albania and Switzerland – indicates where good quality bathing water is likely to be found in 2017.


$2 million innovation prize to help keep plastics out of the ocean

(Posted 8 June 2017)

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, together with The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit, have today announced the launch of the $2 million New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize. The prize calls for innovators, designers, scientists and entrepreneurs to help create packaging that keeps plastics out of the ocean.

To achieve the goal of eliminating plastic packaging waste, the prize is composed of two parallel challenges:

  • The Circular Design challenge which invites applicants to rethink how we can get products to people without generating plastic waste. The Challenge will focus on small-format packaging items (10% of all packaging) such as shampoo sachets, wrappers, straws and coffee cup lids, which are currently almost never recycled and often end up in the environment.
  • The Circular Materials challenge seeks ways to make all plastic packaging recyclable. About 13% of today’s packaging, such as crisp packets and food wrappers, is made of layers of different materials fused together. This multi-layer construction provides important functions like keeping food fresh, but also makes the packaging hard to recycle. The challenge therefore invites innovators to find alternative materials that could be recycled or composted.

The first winners will be announced later this year.

Read more here


Riverine Litter Observation Network

(Posted 8 June 2017)

RIMMEL (RIverine and Marine floating macro litter Monitoring and Modelling of Environmental Loading) welcomes interested parties to join the Riverine Litter Observation Network for quantification of floating macro litter entering the sea. The project will provide a monitoring protocol for observation of floating litter along with a Tablet Computer Application based on MSFD litter category list. The monitoring is based on Visual Observation as a simple method to monitor fluxes of floating litter from rivers to the sea.

This is the first-ever European-scale quantification of loads of floating litter to the European seas. Results will bring a better understanding on litter dynamics from freshwater to marine environments, contributing to source identification and quantification, thus supporting policy makers for improvement of management options.

Join the RIMMEL Observation Network: interested researchers, institutions and organizations are encouraged to contact RIMMEL for further information and registration:

Read more here:


Receding glacier causes immense Canadian river to vanish in four days

(Posted 8 June 2017)

A river that flowed from one of Canada’s largest glaciers vanished over the course of four days last year in an unsettling illustration of how global warming can dramatically change the world’s geography. The abrupt and unexpected disappearance of the Slims river, which spanned up to 150 m at its widest points, is the first observed case of ‘river piracy’, in which the flow of one river is suddenly diverted into another.

For hundreds of years, the Slims carried meltwater northwards from the vast Kaskawulsh glacier in Canada’s Yukon territory into the Kluane river, then into the Yukon river towards the Bering Sea. But in spring 2016, a period of intense melting of the glacier meant that the drainage gradient was tipped in favour of a second river, redirecting the meltwater to the Gulf of Alaska, thousands of miles from its original destination. The continental-scale rearrangement was documented by a team of scientists who had been monitoring the incremental retreat of the glacier for years.

While the Slims had been reduced to a mere trickle, the reverse had happened to the south-flowing Alsek river, a popular whitewater rafting river that is a Unesco world heritage site. The previous year, the two rivers had been comparable in size, but the Alsek is now 60 to 70 times larger than the Slims. The Yukon region is extremely sparsely inhabited, but future river piracy could have catastrophic effects on towns, villages and ecosystems that have sprung up around available water.

Read more here


Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme: year 1 projects in the Caribbean

(Posted 8 June 2017)

The Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) Programme aims to support the sustainable growth of Commonwealth Small Island Developing States within the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.

Information on CME Programme outputs providing marine data and capacity building in the Caribbean can be found here


Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) Programme: Caribbean Marine Climate Change Report Card Scientific Reviews

(Posted 8 June 2017)

A total of 12 scientific reviews provide the background for the Caribbean Marine Climate Change Report Card 2017, one of the Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme’s specific outputs from its first year. The Report Card 2017 is a regional evaluation of the impact of climate change on the marine environment in the Caribbean, which will provide vital evidence for further analysis of the resulting socio-economic issues.

The scientific reviews cover the following topics:

Physical Environment, Extremes, Sea Temperature, Ocean Acidification, Biodiversity, Coral, Mangroves, Fish and Shellfish, Society, Fisheries, Settlements and Infrastructure, and Tourism.

Read more here


Rock giants Pink Floyd honoured in naming of newly discovered, bright pink pistol shrimp

(Posted 8 June 2017)

A strikingly bright pink-clawed species of pistol shrimp, discovered on the Pacific coast of Panama, has been given the ultimate rock and roll name in recognition of the discoverers' favourite rock band – Pink Floyd.

The conspicuously coloured pistol shrimp has been named as Synalpheus pinkfloydi in the scientific description of the species, published in Zootaxa journal. Just like all good rock bands, pistol shrimps, or snapping shrimps, have an ability to generate substantial amounts of sonic energy. By closing its enlarged claw at rapid speed the shrimp creates a high-pressure cavitation bubble, the implosion of which results in one of the loudest sounds in the ocean – strong enough to stun or even kill a small fish.

Combined with its distinct, almost glowing-pink snapping claw, Synalpheus pinkfloydi is aptly named by the report's authors, Arthur Anker of the Universidade Federal de Goiás in Brazil, Kristin Hultgren of Seattle University in the USA, and Sammy De Grave, of Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Source of article:


Coral bleaching resumes on Great Barrier Reef

(Posted 8 June 2017)

Coral researchers are remobilizing to conduct aerial and underwater surveys along the Great Barrier Reef and elsewhere in Australia as coral bleaching reappears for the second year in a row. The decision coincides with the release of a study in the journal Nature warning that the Reef's resilience is rapidly waning.



Environmental DNA survey technique for deepwater fish can complement trawl surveys

(Posted 8 June 2017)

A survey of deepwater fisheries off the coast of Greenland which used traces of fish DNA has produced similar results to trawl surveys and fishing catches. The environmental DNA (eDNA) technique can therefore complement trawl data, and may be particularly useful for surveying large species (which can often avoid bottom trawls) or cryptic species in inaccessible ocean areas.

Monitoring deepwater fish communities is necessary to assess the impacts of climate change and intensive fishing. However, it is difficult due to the remoteness of such habitats, which are expensive to survey. Bottom trawling is also not possible in certain areas due to steep slopes or deepwater coral cover. However, many species are only being monitored through invasive bottom trawling. As a result, many fish species and ocean regions are little studied.

Read more here


New light-based method for detecting and monitoring algal blooms

(Posted 8 June 2017)

Algal blooms in inland and marine waters could be detected and monitored more accurately in future, thanks to a new assessment method. A new algorithm has been developed for sensors which identify emerging blooms of cyanobacteria based on the behaviour of light reflected by the pigment of the algae. Importantly, the algorithm may reduce uncertainty in estimations of algal concentrations by distinguishing between two different types of pigment.

With further testing and refinement, the researchers suggest that their algorithm (developed for algae in coastal waters) could be applied to a broader range of waters and used by satellites to assess regional and global waters.

Read more here


Graphene sieve turns seawater into drinking water

(Posted 8 June 2017)

New research shows that graphene can filter common salts from water to make it safe to drink and this could lead to affordable desalination technology.

Graphene-oxide membranes have attracted considerable attention as promising candidates for new filtration technologies. Now the much sought-after development of making membranes capable of sieving common salts has been achieved. New research demonstrates the real-world potential of providing clean drinking water for millions of people who struggle to access adequate clean water sources.

Previous research at the University of Manchester found that if immersed in water, graphene-oxide membranes become slightly swollen and smaller salts flow through the membrane along with water, but larger ions or molecules are blocked. The group have now further developed these graphene membranes and found a strategy to avoid the swelling of the membrane when exposed to water. The pore size in the membrane can be precisely controlled which can sieve common salts out of salty water and make it safe to drink.

As the effects of climate change continue to reduce modern city’s water supplies, wealthy modern countries are also investing in desalination technologies. By 2025 the UN expects that 14% of the world’s population will encounter water scarcity. This technology has the potential to revolutionise water filtration across the world, in particular in countries which cannot afford large scale desalination plants.


Ocean acidification puts Norwegian fishing industry at risk

(Posted 8 June 2017)

Fishing in most of Norway’s counties is at moderate to high risk from ocean acidification, concludes a new study. The researchers used an integrated risk-assessment method that accounts for environmental, economic and social factors within the 19 counties. They call for immediate action to protect the fishing industry against the effects of ocean acidification.

To read more click here


Plastic from tyres 'major source' of ocean pollution

(Posted 8 June 2017)

Particles of debris from car tyres are ending up in the ocean as plastic soup. Microplastics from tyres and textiles are a bigger source of marine pollution than the breakdown of larger plastic waste in some areas, says the IUCN.

Up to 30% of plastic released into the oceans each year comes from primary microplastics, not the disintegration of larger pieces. Debris from tyre abrasion and synthetic fabrics are the main sources.

The IUCN reviewed data from seven global regions to look at how much of the estimated 9.5 million tonnes of new plastic waste released into the oceans each year comes from primary microplastics. These are tiny plastic particles from consumer products rather than the degradation of larger bits of plastic in the oceans. The report found between 15% and 31% of plastic pollution came from primary microplastics, of which the biggest contributors (almost two-thirds) were abrasion of synthetic textiles, while washing, and abrasion of tyres, while driving. Synthetic rubber, made from a variant of plastic, makes up around 60% of the rubber used in tyres.

Other sources included microbeads in cosmetics, which contributed about 2% of the releases to the ocean globally. The release of microbeads from cosmetic products has received widespread publicity, resulting in action from manufacturers. However, solving plastic pollution from tyres and synthetic clothes will be harder to address. Solutions must include product and infrastructure design as well as consumer behaviour. For example, synthetic clothes could be designed to shed fewer fibres and consumers can act by choosing natural fabrics.


Understanding eel and fish behaviour to improve protection and passage at river structures

(Posted 8 June 2017)

This project studied the behaviour of fish and eels to find better ways to protect them at flood control structures, weirs, hydropower sites and other intakes. The study showed significant impacts of some river structures on migrating eels, but also that understanding eel behaviour at such structures and intakes, in relation to flow, could help improve their passage.

Read more here


Effects of run-of-river hydroelectric power schemes on small in-stream animals

(Posted 8 June 2017)

This project explored the effects of existing run-of-river hydroelectric power (HEP) schemes across England and Wales on communities of small freshwater animals (macroinvertebrates). The research found a very small but statistically significant reduction in the proportion of invertebrates of different families (called evenness) after the HEP schemes were built. It’s unclear whether a change in evenness is ecologically important or just a reflection of adaptation to changing conditions.

The aim of the study was to see whether macroinvertebrate communities associated with HEP schemes have changed in a different way from unaffected but similar sites over the same time period. The research highlighted the wide variability in invertebrate communities in streams and rivers at a given site over time and between sites at the same time. The study also demonstrated the value of looking at as many sites as possible to detect the presence or absence of effects from site-based interventions where other drivers of change may be present.

Read more here


Environmental DNA in rivers can assess broad-scale biodiversity

(Posted 8 June 2017)

This research showed that traces of animals’ DNA in the environment, known as environmental DNA (eDNA), can be monitored to paint a picture of biodiversity. This study used eDNA to assess biodiversity in an entire river catchment in Switzerland. Importantly, the eDNA technique allowed the researchers to detect both aquatic and land-based species in river water, making it possible to assess biodiversity over a broad scale.

Recently, eDNA analysis has emerged as a useful tool for conservation management. This technique identifies species in the environment through their DNA found in cells shed from skin, faeces or other bodily excretions. Much of the eDNA research to date has focused on identifying aquatic species. Suspended cells, particle bound or free-floating DNA in water can last from a few days to a few months and can be collected and analysed for the presence of genetic material, which is unique to a particular species or group of species. In this study, researchers broadened the use of eDNA analysis to develop a picture of the biodiversity found in the Glatt river catchment in Switzerland.

Read more here


Combinations of veterinary antibiotics may harm algae

(Posted 8 June 2017)

Combinations of antibiotics used in veterinary medicine could harm the growth of algal communities when they pass into water bodies from treated livestock, according to this recent research. Algae play vital roles in ecosystems by cycling nutrients and producing energy from photosynthesis; the study recommends that veterinary use of antibiotics should, therefore, be monitored in the environment, including for any biological impacts on algal species.

Antibiotics used in agriculture can enter soils and waterways either directly when excreted from pasture animals or when manures and slurries from housed animals are added to agricultural fields as fertiliser. As antibiotics target bacteria, non-target algal species such as cyanobacteria (bacteria which obtain their energy from photosynthesis) may be particularly affected by antibiotics in the environment. Potential impacts include prevention of, or a reduction in, the algae’s growth.

Water bodies within certain agricultural landscapes are likely to be exposed to a mixture of antibiotics from veterinary use. Assessing the combined effects of these products is therefore important when assessing the environmental risks from antibiotics.

Read more here


European coastal regions at greatest risk from oil spills identified by new risk index

(Posted 8 June 2017)

European Atlantic countries are, in general, at higher risk of being affected by oil spills than Mediterranean and Baltic countries, with the United Kingdom most affected, according to new research. This study developed a new risk index for analysing the potential vulnerability of coastal regions to oil spills at sea.

The risk index revealed that the west coast of the UK was at highest risk of being affected by an oil spill at sea. Of the 25 regions most at risk from an oil spill, 20 were along the UK coast and the top three were all in the UK – Torbay, Swansea and Blackpool. Of the remaining five regions, four were in Greece (Argolida, Arkadia, Korinthia and Voiotia) and one was a Spanish region (Ceuta), on the north coast of Africa. The UK's west coast is the area with the highest risk partly as a result of ocean currents that push oil towards the coast. In general, however, sea currents tend to disperse oil away from the coastal areas in Europe.

This study could help policymakers manage risks in coastal areas by identifying regions which are the most vulnerable to the impact of an oil spill at sea, and inform protective measures against potential future spills.

To read more click here



WFD River Status 2016

(Posted 8 June 2017)

The 2016 Water Framework Directive classification results have been published by the Environment Agency and are available as a spreadsheet download and as an interactive map layer via The Rivers Trustメs catchment mapping portal


RiverWiki – River Restoration Case Studies

(Posted 8 June 2017)

The RiverWiki has recently been updated to improve functionality. Have a look at the RiverWiki which holds more than 1,000 case studies from across more than 30 countries. Search case studies for examples of best practice, and add your projects to showcase your work and demonstrate what techniques you have used.

This site is funded through the Environment Agency and managed by the River Restoration Centre. It is an interactive source of information on river restoration schemes from around Europe.


River Restoration Factsheets and Videos

(Posted 8 June 2017)

From the River Restoration Centre (RRC), these factsheets aim to provide simple and concise guidance for community groups involved in river restoration.

What is river restoration?

This factsheet provides an overview of what river restoration is and why it's important. It outlines how rivers are commonly restored at different scales and uses examples from the RRC’s Manual of Techniques. Details on how to find out about river restoration projects across the UK are provided as well as useful links to help you find river restoration groups and projects near you and how to get involved.

Other factsheets include:

  • Planning your river restoration project
  • River restoration in urban areas
  • Monitoring and evaluating your projects
  • Fixed point photography
  • RiverWiki

Videos are also available, providing concise guidance to those involved in river restoration projects. See


Lundy Marine Management Plan 2017

(Posted 8 June 2017)

Lundy was one of the first UK voluntary marine reserves, and in1973 it had one of the first management plans. Forty-four years on, the new management plan provides a useful model.

See the plan here


Shaping a prosperous future for nautical tourism in Europe

(Posted 8 June 2017)

The European Commission has published a Staff Working Document on Nautical Tourism. Nautical tourism includes activities in coastal and offshore marine waters, eg boating, yachting, boat-based angling and wildlife watching, kayaking, and other harbour and marina-based activities.

This sector can provide economic opportunities for coastal communities, and the paper describes several areas where action is needed to unleash this potential and overcome existing obstacles to growth. It also stresses the need to minimise adverse environmental impacts.

Issues addressed in the paper include:

  • recognition of professional and private skippers licences
  • on-board safety equipment
  • innovation for marinas and boating development
  • the potential of combined nautical and coastal tourism products
  • what happens to end-of-life boats.

Read the document here


Blueprint for PR19

(Posted 8 June 2017)

This is produced by Blueprint for Water who are a coalition of 18 environmental, water efficiency and fisheries organisations, brought together by Wildlife and Countryside Link.

Over the next 18 months, water companies in England and Wales will be drawing up their business plans for 2020 to 2025, as part of the Periodic Review 2019 (PR19). Blueprint for Water believe that nature should be at the heart of water companies’ business plans and has developed a set of key priorities that they want to see reflected in these plans, to benefit both customers and the natural environment that we all cherish:

  • Protect and restore catchments from source to sea
  • Stop pollution from our waters
  • Use water wisely and price water fairly
  • Keep our rivers flowing and wetlands wet.

Throughout the development of PR19 plans, Blueprint for Water have been engaging with water companies, government, regulators and their supporters, to gain the best outcomes for nature. They have launched Blueprint for PR19, a manifesto for the environment, to companies, and will be continuing to engage with those above to ensure the environment is recognised and protected.

You can readᅠa summary of their priorities or download the full Blueprint for PR19 publication.

Source of information:


Marine Protected Areas Revisited

(Posted 8 June 2017)

The Marine Protected Areas Revisited report (from the Environmental Audit Committee) found that Marine Protected Areas are not being effectively managed, and the government needs to do more to protect vulnerable marine habitats, features and species once a site is designated as a Marine Protected Area.

Access the report here


Shark and Ray Tourism

(Posted 8 June 2017)

WWF, Project AWARE and The Manta Trust have joined together to produce the world’s first guide to best practice for shark and ray tourism. This type of tourism is on the rise globally. If current trends continue, shark-related tourism numbers could more than double over the next twenty years. The Guide, developed in collaboration with science and industry, aims to create well-managed shark and ray tourism operations, conserve species and benefit local communities.

One in four shark and ray species is facing an increased threat of extinction, primarily due to overfishing. Well-managed, responsible shark and ray related ecotourism can be a powerful, complementary conservation strategy.  It can also serve as an important supplementary source of income, benefiting operators and local communities alike.

Responsible Shark and Ray Tourism – A Guide to Best Practice provides a suite of free, practical, downloadable tools that can be used by operators, NGOs, local communities and resource managers.

Access the guide here

Source of information:


British Water publishes code of practice for SuDS technology

(Posted 8 June 2017)

In a first for the UK water industry, a code of practice for assessing surface water treatment technologies has been published by British Water. The document, which took over two years to develop, has been supported by the Environment Agency and manufacturers of surface water treatment devices.

British Water members ACO Technologies, Hydro International and Polypipe joined with the environmental regulator to sponsor an in-depth study of UK rainfall by research consultancy HR Wallingford. The information was key to the development of a robust product-testing protocol.

The voluntary code of practice allows professionals delivering SuDS to apply a risk-based approach to minimising the environmental impact of the diffuse pollution from runoff. Verifying the capture and retention capabilities of different devices for a range of pollutants gives regulators, designers, specifiers and local authorities the information they need to select the most appropriate technology in a given application.

The document can be accessed here:

Source of information:


Scottish Marine Protected Areas Socioeconomic Monitoring

(Posted 8 June 2017)

This report provides an assessment of emerging evidence on the socio-economic impacts of Scotland’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The objectives of the report are to develop a methodology for monitoring the socioeconomic impacts of MPA management measures and to gather and analyse evidence on the ex post socioeconomic impacts of MPA management measures. This report presents evidence from key informant interviews, analysis of fishing activity data and three case studies.

Access the report here:


Sewage sludge on farmland: code of practice

(Posted 8 June 2017)

The sewage sludge code of practice is for anyone who produces, supplies or uses sewage sludge, and anyone who owns or manages farmland where it is used.

It helps to make sure that when you produce, supply or use sewage sludge you:

  • follow good agricultural practice
  • maintain the long-term viability of the soil
  • avoid public nuisance and water pollution
  • protect human, animal and plant health


A Guide to protecting groundwater and preventing groundwater pollution

(Posted 8 June 2017)

Understand when your activities affect groundwater, what permissions you may need and how to prevent pollution.

Use this guide to understand:

  • what groundwater is and how your activity might affect it
  • permissions you need to discharge to, or abstract from, groundwater
  • how vulnerable your location is to groundwater pollution
  • the designated groundwater protection zones.

This guidance (from the Environment Agency) is for planners, applicants for environmental permits and abstraction licences, and landowners concerned with the quality and quantity of groundwater.



The River Restoration Centre Annual Conference 2017

(Posted 8 June 2017)

A total of 321 delegates attended the conference in Brighton, with presentations given by a range of organisations, covering a variety of restoration related topics. Many posters were on display, showcasing restoration projects and research. Workshops, site visits plus ample opportunity to network encouraged delegates to discuss ideas and make new contacts.

Outputs include presentations, posters, the delegate handbook and workshop summaries, and can be accessed here: