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To: Michael Creed-TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Thomas Pringle-TD Donegal, Joe McHugh-TD Donegal. Simon Coveney, Tánaiste Minister for Defence and Foreign Affairs
Say No To Bottom Dredging Mussel Farm, Kinsale Harbour, Cork
Don't allow bottom dredging mussel farm application to be accepted in Kinsale Harbour, Cork.
Why is this important?
To date, 25 species of cetaceans have been recorded in Irish waters (Lusher at al., 2018). All cetaceans, pinnipeds; including harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) and the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) are protected in Ireland under a range of national and international legislation. Under the Wildlife Act (1976) and amendments (2000, 2005, 2010 and 2012), it is an offence to intentionally hunt, injure, wilfully interfere with or disturb or destroy the resting or breeding place of a protected species (except under licence or permit from the department). The 1976 Wildlife Act applies out to the 12 nm limit of Irish territorial waters. Additionally, all cetaceans, pinnipeds and otter and are protected under the EU Habitats Directive, where all cetaceans are included in Annex IV of the Directive as species ‘in need of strict protection’. Under this Directive, the harbour porpoise, bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), grey seal, harbour seal and Eurasian Otter are listed under Annex II, which identifies these species of community interest and whose conservation requires the designation of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) (O’ Brien, 2016).
3. Man-made noise generated from dredging operations, both from the physical presence of the dredger, and increased water turbidity within the area have potential to cause low levels of disturbance, including the masking of communication and induce behavioural impacts such as displacement from important habitat (O’Brien, 2016). Recently published literature on the impacts of dredging on marine mammals in Aberdeen Harbour found that bottlenose dolphins exhibited avoidance behaviour to dredging in a highly urbanised foraging patch, despite the expected high level of tolerance given the high level of vessel activity in the area (Pirotta et al., 2013).
A similar review by Todd et al., (2014) found that in regard to dredging activities, the effect on marine mammals depends on the type of dredger used, state of operation, local sound propagation conditions and the receiver’s sensitivity and bandwidth of hearing. It also highlighted the potential for accidental collision with marine mammals. The review concluded that noise from dredging although perceived as being below the injury threshold for permanent hearing loss (PTS), according to criteria outlined in Southall et al., (2007), highlighted the potential for temporary damage to hearing (TTS) to marine mammals, such as the harbour porpoise after prolonged periods of exposure, also found in a more recent study (Kastelein et al., 2012).
Indirect impacts from exposure of marine mammals to anthropogenic noise from dredging operations can result in changes to protected species physical environments, affecting prey distribution and introducing toxins and pollutants from dredge spoil.