Pearl Mussel Project working with the farming community to protect Freshwater Pearl Mussels in Ireland

The team from Wetland Surveys Ireland have been awarded the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and the Marine, Locally Led Scheme project to setup catchment management plans and a farm grant programme to help ensure the protection of freshwater pearl mussel in Ireland. The Pearl Mussel Project, will focus developing and implementing a results based agri-environmental programme across eight priority river catchments. 

The six year Pearl Mussel Project is being headed by Dr Patrick Crushell, together with project staff and a team of advisors. The main project team is based in Kenmare, County Kerry, in proximity to four of the catchments. A local area team covering the four west and north-west catchments will be headed by Dr Dererk McLoughlin who is based in Westport, County Mayo. 

Dr Patrick Crushell, senior ecologist with Wetland Surveys Ireland who will oversee the project stated “We aim to develop a programme that is attractive to farmers by rewarding them for improving the local environment. Improvement of farmland ecology within the catchments should have a positive influence on the river habitats and in turn the endangered freshwater pearl mussel, which is a key species that indicates a very clean and healthy environment of benefit to wider society. It is right that farmers should be adequately rewarded for providing this important and valuable product”. 

Farmers within the eight catchment areas in county Kerry, Cork, Galway, Mayo and Donegal are key stakeholders in the locally led project. The project team will be engaging with farmers over the coming months for input into the design of the programme. Project information and dates for farmer meetings will be advertised in local press and online via the project facebook page and website.

The 6 year Pearl Mussel Project is an action of the Locally Led Scheme of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and the Marine (DAFM). Details of the DAFM press release are reproduced below. 

Contact details: 

Tel: 064 6640685

The Pearl Mussel Project Ltd
Bell Height
Co. Kerry

The top 8 catchments included in the Pearl Mussel Project:

  • Caragh, County Kerry
  • Currane, County Kerry
  • Ownagappul, County Cork
  • Kerry Blackwater, County Kerry
  • Glaskeelan, County Donegal
  • Owenriff, County Galway
  • Bundorragha, County Mayo
  • Dawros, County Galway


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Creed announces appointment of Project Team for new Freshwater Pearl Mussel programme

2 May 2018

Mussels in clean river bed small

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., announced today that a Project Team to run the new Freshwater Pearl Mussel Programme has been selected. 

The programme is one of a number of European Innovation Partnership (EIP) projects being rolled out by the Department under Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. Two of these projects focus on areas agreed in advance with the EU Commission – conservation of the Hen Harrier and of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel.

A project team to lead the Hen Harrier Project was appointed in 2017 and the Minister is delighted to announce that a project team has now been selected to develop the actions at local level for the Freshwater Pearl Mussel. The Department is allocating a total budget of €10m for the Freshwater Pearl Mussel Scheme.

The selection was made on foot of a competitive tender operated by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Following careful assessment of the proposals received, the selection committee identified ‘The Pearl Mussel Project Limited” as the approach which best reflected the aims and objectives of the new scheme.

The Minister said “I am very pleased at the quality of proposals put forward in response to his Department’s tender.  I am delighted that the new Freshwater Pearl Mussel programme is moving closer to design and implementation. The new Project Team will now commence developing the various actions to be carried out by farmers in the areas concerned in consultation with my own Department and the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, as well as with farmers on the ground.’ 

The winning Project Team is joint approach led by Dr Patrick Crushell of Wetland Surveys Ireland, bringing together a team with Dr Derek McLoughlin and other experienced ecologists, agricultural advisors and environmental scientists.  The team will be supported by Tómas O’Connor of O’Connor Pyne & Co., Chartered Accountants.

The new scheme will be open to farmers in eight selected catchments for freshwater pearl mussel in Ireland with special emphasis on restoring the hydromorphology of the species’ aquatic habitat while also improving the quality of semi-natural terrestrial and wetland habitats. The catchments are Currane, Caragh and Kerry Blackwater in County Kerry, Ownagappul in County Cork, Bundorragha, Owenriff and Dawros in County Galway/Mayo and Glaskeelan in County Donegal.

Minister Creed added “Being a locally-led scheme this process will also include the local knowledge and inputs from farmers on the ground. Once the terms and conditions have been agreed the recruitment of farmers to this critical scheme will commence. This is a pilot project administered by an independent group with a strong local focus, working in partnership with my Department. This is a novel and innovative way of responding to local agri-environment challenges and we look forward to working with, and supporting our partners in the delivery of the schemes”.


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© Pearl Mussel Project Ltd 2018