Farmers to take part shortly in KerryLIFE mussel project

Pearl MusselsThe manager of a 5 million euro project to restore an endangered species of marine life in South Kerry says local farmers will be taking part in the scheme shortly. In December 2014, the KerryLIFE project was launched to help restore populations of the critically endangered freshwater pearl mussel. Some 50 farmers in the Glencar and Blackwater areas are due to take part in the scheme and to get paid for their efforts to conserve the species. However, no farmers have yet been paid. The project manager of KerryLIFE project, Richard O’Callaghan says there is a long lead in time in the scheme and they have been busy with essential preparatory work. He says measures taken include the prevention of silt running into rivers as this can suffocate juvenile freshwater pearl mussel. Richard O’Callaghan says the project team has been in regular contact with farmers and forestry owners. Within the next five weeks, he says they will be at a stage to begin work with landowners and this will be rolled out over the next two to three months. The Heritage Department co-ordinates the KerryLIFE project which also involves the Department of Agriculture, Teagasc, Coillte and the South Kerry Development Partnership. The project is due to run until 2019 and receives almost half its funding from the EU. Four people are employed in the project and there is also a part-time PhD student.