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Biogenic habitats in Ireland
1st March 2023 @ 8:00 PM - 9:30 PMFree
Habitats created by shellfish are complex biogenic structures rich in marine life and integral to the ecological functioning of our seas. These habitats, truly hotspots of biodiversity, are highly sensitive to human impacts, especially from overfishing and the use of mobile fishing gears, and recover poorly without intervention. This talk is an introduction to the main shellfish biogenic habitats found in Ireland, concentrating on those created by the horse mussel Modiolus modiolus, a large, slow growing, cold-water bivalve capable of forming extensive, elevated reefs. I will define the main types of horse mussel biotopes, their distribution, and their conservation importance presenting the results of a recently published study defining the biodiversity baselines for these habitats across their North Atlantic range. To illustrate the sensitivity of horse mussel reefs to physical damage from demersal fishing practices I will travel to Strangford Lough, in County Down, to introduce the, once ‘extensive and lush’ horse mussel reefs that were used as one of the main features in the designation of the Strangford Lough MPA, their dramatic demise after years of an unregulated queen scallop fishery, the futility of a late fishing ban, and the attempts to restore them.
You can register for this talk here