The objective of this designation type is the maintenance of water quality for salmon and trout freshwater species. Legal backing was first established under the directive 78/659/EEC ‘On the quality of freshwaters needing protection or improvement in order to support fish life’ commonly known as the Freshwater Fish Directive. This was superseded by the European Communities (Quality of Salmonid Waters) regulations, S.I. No 84 of 1988.
The 1988 directive defines freshwaters as being waters capable of supporting Salmon (Salmo Salar), Trout (Salmo trutta), Char (Salvelinus) and whitefish (Coregonus) and are hereby designated as Salmonid waters.
A local authority shall carry out or cause to be carried out, sampling of Salmonid waters in its functional area in respect of the parameters specified in the second schedule of the 1988 regulation.
The European commission oversees member state policies in this area. In Ireland the Department of the Environment and local Government is responsible for making designations which the local authorities implement.
By 1996 22 rivers were designated as Salmonid waters. Designation of a river’s main channel has occurred in 21 of these rivers with only 1 (Moy River) being a catchment area.
The 1988 Regulation was superseded by the water framework directive 2000/60/EC. This latest directive expands the scope of water protection of all waters and sets clear objectives that good status must be achieved for all European waters by 2015 and that sustainable water use is ensured throughout Europe of which Salmonid waters are included.
8 Salmon species are present in Ireland:
Salmon (Salmo Solar) Pollan (Coregonus autumnalis pollan)
Brown trout (Salmo trutta fario) Schelly (Coregonus nilssoni)
Char (Salvelinus alpinus) Rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri)
Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) Sea trout (Salmo trutta trutta)