A historic event organised by the Moy Catchment Association took place at Mount Falcon Estate in Ballina in November 2017. Hosted by the Moy Catchment Association, the purpose of this Expo event was to discuss a proposed River Moy Trust.
The expo brought together community and government agencies who listened to presentations about the process involved in forming a river trust, the benefits it would bring to all, and the fact that involving local communities leads to success by ensuring increased awareness and greater education.
The evening’s compere, Angelina Nugent, introduced speakers and interviewed different community and government agencies about the potential benefits gained from developing a trust.
The Moy Catchment Association has been working on a voluntary basis over the past year to establish a trust that will serve to monitor, protect and promote the ecology, fisheries, and wildlife of the River Moy and all its associated waterways and tributaries across counties Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon. The expo was designed to inform and engage all relevant stakeholders of progress, outline the vision for the organisation, and gather feedback with a view to forming a board and formalising the trust.
It is envisaged by members of the group that the River Moy Trust will act as an umbrella group for stakeholders, linking communities with state and semi-state bodies and building relationships, and ultimately creating a small number of jobs. The Trust will work with community and voluntary groups to assist with national and EU funding applications and to deliver local projects. The proposed activities of the River Moy Trust are in line with EU and national policies such as the national River Basin Management Plan, and will contribute to the delivery of local and national objectives by collaborating with Mayo County Council and other local authorities.
Over the course of the evening, MC Angelina Nugent introduced a range of speakers, including Cllr Michael Smyth, who spoke positively about the role of Mayo County Council to date and the commitment they were willing to give in its support.
The Moy Catchment Association (MCA) chairperson, Jim Wilson, provided background on how the River Moy Trust Expo event came about.
He was followed by Ray Spain, Regional Director for the Waters and Communities Office. Ray outlined the Office’s role in facilitating communities to take a greater role in water quality with results in healthy waters and vibrant communities. He went on to mention funding streams now available through the Waters and Communities Office (LAWCO) for community projects focused on improving water quality.Ray also highlighted the important role that education has to play in the long-term future of the catchment and in improving water quality. There are 85 schools in the River Moy Catchment area, and already work has begun to engage and educate young people on the protection of our natural heritage, with further expansion of the educational programme planned for 2018.
Hugh Bonner from Mara Media, publishers of Go West Ireland West Airport Magazine as well as various fishing publications, referred to the potential that exists to develop the Moy Valley as a tourist destination that caters for all outdoor enthusiasts. He praised the foresight of Mayo County Council in promoting and developing resources for visitors to the area and spoke of the need for everyone to place a greater value on our natural resources, work together and raise the profile of our tourism industry.
Mark Horton, All-Ireland Director of the Rivers Trust (UK and Ireland) informed the audience of the functions and benefits associated with creating a river trust, before outlining the steps needed to formalise the initiative. Members of the audience, comprising individuals and bodies with an interest in the preservation and promotion of the River Moy were given opportunities throughout the evening to network and share contact details and suggest potential projects.
Other speakers included Peter Gill and Anna Connor of Mayo County Council; Hugh Bonner of Mara Media, Alan Keys of Ballinderry Rivers Trust and Declan Cooke of Inland Fisheries Ireland.
The diversity of all stakeholders involved in the protection of the river was acknowledged by the speakers, with reference made to the unique roles, perspectives and needs of anglers, landowners, farmers, state and semi-state bodies, fisheries, tourism providers and recreational users. Also referenced were the different elements that put pressure on waterways and their fish stocks such as invasive species, pollution and overgrowth.
Following the presentations relating to the theme of a River Moy Trust, attendees mingled to discuss and put forward ideas for suitable projects. The Moy Catchment Association chairperson, Jim Wilson, also asked them to nominate their willingness to join the future board, which will be set up in 2018.
If you would like to get involved, find out more, or if you know of someone you may think might have an interest in becoming involved please contact Ciaran Boland at 086-3800034 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Gary Smyth at 086-8384684 or by email at email@example.com.