Northern Ireland

£6m EU money for aquatic projects

The European union has provided £6m for a cross-border project to help manage and develop key aquatic resources.

The project will cover Northern Ireland, the border region and western Scotland.

There is matching funding from government in Belfast and Dublin, and finance from the University of Glasgow.

The project will provide training and research to help develop sustainable growth of natural freshwater and marine resources.

The initiative, known as IBIS will include a series of detailed studies on Atlantic salmon, European eel, sea trout, mussels, oysters, seabirds as habitat monitors, and the impacts of climate change and marine protected areas.

Protection

Pat Colgan, chief executive of the Special EU Progammes Body said: "This project will help all three regions meet some of the European Union's most important environmental regulations, namely the Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive.

"By investing in high quality training it will also ensure that practitioners working in this arena have access to the resources needed to make a real difference in the protection of marine life now and in the future."

Welcoming the project, the Minister for the Environment Alex Attwood MLA, said: "The IBIS project will support a range of environmental priorities that will help develop the sustainable use of freshwater and marine natural resources across the three regions.

"This investment in knowledge and tools to support the needs of the sector and its legislative drivers should help and protect our joint aquatic environments going forward.

''We have untapped possibilities in terms of EU funding. We need to raise our game and raise it quickly.

"This announcement shows the way to go but I am determined we go much further and much faster. I applaud what you have done.''