Pearl Mussel Project Visits Ennerdale Valley and the River Ehen

Great to join the KerryLIFE team on study tour of the Ennerdale Valley and River Ehen in England’s Lake District, led by Evelyn Moorkens and Ian Killeen. Some great examples of practical measures being taken to restore freshwater pearl mussel habitat.

Wetlands and seepage zones along rivers can play important role in supporting juvenile pearl mussel habitat. Excellent examples of this were demonstrated to us along the River Ehen, where a water company (United Utilities) has purchased such habitat to compensate effects of water abstraction on this important freshwater pearl mussel river. The pearl mussel project intent to reward farmers for maintaining and enhancing these important habitats. We will give other examples of the great work done by other groups in the area including Wild Ennerdale and the Pearls in Peril EU Life project.

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Pearl mussels thrive in rivers with high water quality. Note the clear water and absence of algae suggesting both low suspended solids and nutrient levels.

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Floodplain wetland (species rich wet grassland, fen and flushed habitats) play a vital role in supporting juvenile pearl mussel habitat.

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Drought conditions testing freshwater pearl mussel in the Ownagappul

Project Manager Patrick Crushell visited the Ownagappul river in Co. Cork yesterday - and conditions are looking tough for pearl mussel as river levels have dropped significantly due to the recent dry spell. As he reports in his message "Main channel of the Ownagappul River today.... very little water, occasional mussels where shallow water persists".

And as you can see in the second photo, some mussels have migrated to the deepest part of the channel to have the best chance of surviving the drought. Hopefully we get rain soon.....

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Ownagappul drought 14.7.2018

Ownagappul migrating mussels 14.7.2018

National Rural Network Irish EIP-AGRI Operational Groups

The Pearl Mussel Project has been included on the National Rural Network Irish EIP-AGRI Operational Groups. 

Check out our freshwater pearl mussel project and other Irish projects on

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New €10 million project to reward farmers for environmental enhancement in priority river catchments

Pearl Mussels Launch

Press Release

2 July 2018

New €10 million project to reward farmers for environmental enhancement in priority river catchments

Wetland Surveys Ireland, a Kerry based environmental consultancy together with a team of expert advisors, have been appointed to administer the 'Pearl Mussel Project', a new €10 million locally led scheme for farmers. The overall aim of the project is to reward farmers for improving the local environment with a view to ensuring the long term survival of freshwater pearl mussels in Ireland. The programme will be open to farmers across eight priority catchments in counties Cork, Kerry, Galway, Mayo, and Donegal.

Freshwater pearl mussels are a large species of mussel that occur in very clean streams, rivers, and occasionally lakes. They are Ireland’s longest-living animal with lifespans of over 120 years being recorded. Despite large numbers remaining in some rivers, they have declined dramatically in the last century and are currently on the verge of extinction due to the fact that no young mussels are surviving to adulthood in many rivers. The eight priority rivers in the scheme are known to support the largest remaining populations of the legally protected mussel in Ireland.

The Pearl Mussel Project will work closely with local farmers in each area providing them with an opportunity to be recognized and financially rewarded for delivering environmental benefits. Dr Patrick Crushell, Project Manager, stated “We aim to develop a scheme that is attractive to farmers by rewarding them for improving the local environment. Enhancing farmland habitats within the catchments will have a positive influence on the river and in turn the endangered freshwater pearl mussel, which is a key species that indicates a very clean and healthy environment of great benefit to wider society. It is right that farmers should be adequately rewarded for providing this important and valuable product”.

The programme is currently being designed by the project team with input from farmers, advisors, and researchers. Consultation meetings with farmers in each local area will be held later in the year to inform them of the project and to gain an understanding of their views, concerns, and hopes for the programme.

Further information is available on the recently launched project website ( where maps can be viewed to check eligibility and there is also a facility to register interest. The Pearl Mussel Project is an EIP (European Innovation Partnership) locally led programme funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine as part of Ireland's Rural Development Programme 2014-20.


Relevant maps and photos available on request.

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© Pearl Mussel Project Ltd 2018