See all the latest news about the Pearl Mussel Project. Remember you can also check out the latest news on our Facebook and Twitter page (links opposite).

Pearl Mussel Programme Payments 2020

PMP Catchment Photo Collage

PMP have started issuing 2020 annual payments to farmers under our results-based programme, and hope to have most payments out to participants before Christmas. 

In all, over 450 of our participant farmers will receive their payments over the next few weeks.

Many participants will receive increased payments this year, partly due to review of payment rates but also increased scores on farms due to actions completed and changes in farm management.

€1.2 million is being paid out to farmers in our catchment areas where farmers are receiving a result-based payment that reflects the environmental outputs of their land, and in particular their contribution towards maintaining freshwater pearl mussel and their pristine river habitat.

The Pearl Mussel Project is an EIP (European Innovation Partnership) Locally Led Scheme. The Project is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine as part of Ireland's Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.

#pearlmusselproject #musselrivers #EIPagri #RuralNetwork @DeptAgriFoodMarine #EPACatchments #teagasc #watersandcommunities #IrishFarmersJournal  #agriculture @IrishFarmersAssociation #Agriland

EIPs and the delivery of ecosystem services publication

RBAPS paper RIA 2020

Derek McLoughlin (PMP) together with Amanda Browne (Caomhnú Árann ) and Caroline A. Sullivan (Hen Harrier Project) have published an excellent paper entitled: The delivery of ecosystem services through results-based agri-environment payment schemes (RBPS): three Irish case studies. The paper was published in Biology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. 

The paper gives an insight into the opertation of the three EIPs and shows how they provide a model by which this wide range of ecosystem services can be delivered through a results-based agri-environment (AE) payments approach, where farmers are rewarded for the quality of habitat that they maintain on their farms in addition to the food products that they produce.

You can download and read the publication here.

#pearlmusselproject #musselrivers #EIPAgri #RuralNetwork #agriculture_ie Caomhnú Árann  ‪‪‬Hen Harrier Project

Pearl Mussel Project Newsletter: Issue 2

Screen Shot 2020-11-21 at 08.38.10

November 2020: The Pearl Mussel Project have produced a short farm newsletter with information on some of the latest developments within the programme. 

Download your copy of Pearl Mussel Project News, Issue 2 from our PMP Publications section. 

We hope to produce further issues of Pearl Mussel Project News during the programme. So check in again to see the latest programme developments.

If you would like to submit an article, photograph or item for inclusion in the newsletter which relates the programme email Mary McAndrew at

#pearlmusselproject #musselrivers #EIPagri #ruralnetwork 

Paca Oideachais na nDiúilicíní Péarla Fionnuisce i nGaeilge Seolta


Tá leagan Gaeilge dár bpaca oideachais seolta ag Tionscadal na nDiúilicíní Péarla, lena úsáid ag páistí bunscoile. Is é dóchas Thionscadal na nDiúilicíní Péarla go mbeidh an acmhainn oideachais seo i nGaeilge fíoráisiúil, go háirithe, do na scoileanna atá suite in Abhantracha na nDiúilicíní Péarla i gceantair na Gaeltachta nó i ngar don Ghaeltacht, ina measc Glas Caoláin i gContae Dhún na nGall, Abhainn an Chnoic agus Damhros i gContae na Gaillimhe agus An Chárthach agus An Corrán i gContae Chiarraí.

Áirítear leis an bpaca léarscáil réamhléiritheach scéil ar líne, inar féidir le daltaí níos mó a fhoghlaim faoin diúilicín péarla fionnuisce, faoin áit a mbíonn cónaí orthu, faoina mbitheolaíocht, faoina riachtanais ghnáthóige agus faoin gcaoi a gcabhraíonn siad lenár n-aibhneacha agus leis na daoine a chónaíonn cois abhann. Thairis sin, tá míniú sa léarscáil scéil seo faoi cén fáth a bhfuil na diúilicíní péarla i mbaol agus faoi cad atá á dhéanamh ag Tionscadal na nDiúilicíní Péarla chun cabhrú leo. 

paca acmhainne ag cur leis an léarscáil scéil, agus sa phaca sin tá sraith de leatháin ghníomhaíochta is féidir le múinteoirí nó daltaí a íoslódáil. Áirítear leis na leatháin ghníomhaíochta suirbhé bithéagsúlachta, a fhéadfaidh daltaí a dhéanamh sa bhaile, ar an bhfeirm nó ar scoil, chomh maith le tráthanna na gceist agus cuardach focal. 


Freshwater Pearl Mussel Irish Education Pack Launched

PMP have launched an Irish language version of our education resource pack for use by primary school children. PMP hope this Irish language education resource will be especially useful to schools that are located in PMP catchments in or close to Gaeltacht areas including Glaskeelan in County Donegal, Owenriff and Dawros in County Galway and Caragh and Currane in County Kerry.

The pack includes an introductory on-line story map, where students can learn more about the freshwater pearl mussel, where they occur, their biology, habitat requirements and how they help our rivers and the people living along them. This story map also explains why pearl mussels are endangered and what the Pearl Mussel Project are doing to help them.

The story map is complimented by a resource pack containing a series of activity sheets which teachers or students can download. The activity sheets include a biodiversity survey students can do at home, on the farm or in school, quizzes and word puzzels. 

#pearlmusselproject #musselrivers #EIPAgri #RuralNetwork #agriculture_ie

Bon Voyage


It is with a note of sadness we share the news that Derek McLoughlin is finishing work with the  Pearl Mussel Project at the end of October to take up a Project Manager post with the new 'Wild Atlantic Nature LIFE Project' which will be focusing on delivering conservation benefits to the blanket bog SACs.

Derek has been working out his offices at Westport, running the programme in the north-west along with Mary McAndrew. As project manager Patrick Crushell says “Derek has been a played a key role in the successful design and development of the PMP Programme and has been a fantastic colleague. I have no doubt he’s the right person to make a success of the LIFE project.”

Everyone at PMP wishes Derek the very best and success in the new post, and as Derek says “I won’t be going too far as several of the PMP NW catchments are also in the LIFE project so there will be lots of overlap”. 

#pearlmusselproject #musselrivers  #EIPagri #RuralNetwork #agriculture_ie  @DeptAgriFoodMarine 

PMP Annual Report June 2019 – June 2020 published

PMP Annual Report 2019 2020 No2

The Pearl Mussel Project has published its second annual report covering the period June 2019 to June 2020.  

The report summarises the work undertaken by the project team during the second year of the programme. This was the first full year in the operational phase of the programme and major milestones included farmer intake and training, farm scoring, issuing the first annual results-based payments to participant farmers, approval of annual works plans and implementation of the first Supporting Actions.

The report is available as a PDF download here.

#pearlmusselproject #musselrivers  #EIPagri #RuralNetwork #agriculture_ie  @DeptAgriFoodMarine

PMPAnnualReport2 SummaryChart

Out and about meeting some great farmers

Mary McAndrew, PMP North West catchment officer has been out and about meeting some great farmers since the lifting of Covid travel restrictions

As Mary expalins “Aside from some beautiful views in Dawros over the last few days, one of our farmers Stephen Joyce showed me an old cottage on his land which he has preserved. The cottage contained the original branding irons for the farm and other amazing pieces belonging to the original owners. Farmers in our catchments not only preserve the landscapes in these areas but they are also a mine of knowledge and information on local history, that I have found they are delighted to share”.

#pearlmusselproject #musselrivers #EIPagri #RuralNetwork #agriculture_ie @DeptAgriFoodMarine

Dawros Stephen Joyce1

Dawros Stephen Joyce

Dawros Stephen Joyce6

Dawros Stephen Joyce3

Dawros Stephen Joyce2

Pearl Mussel Project (PMP) Covid-19 Operational Plan June Update

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic we have made some changes to our day to day operations. The health, safety and wellbeing of our participant farmers, colleagues, project stakeholders and the wider community, is our priority during this time. We intend to continue our operations incorporating safeguards to ensure compliance with government guidelines, while allowing us to continue to provide contracted services to our clients. During this time we will be constantly reviewing our operations and procedures to ensure we are in line with best practice guidance.

Changes to normal operations

All staff are working from home. Our phone lines remain open and calls and emails will be dealt with as normal.

All upcoming farmer training meetings that were to be held over the next months are postponed until further notice. We are currently exploring alternative means of holding these remotely.

One-on-one farmer meetings can now take place subject to prior agreement with the relevant farmers. Any such meetings will follow strict adherence to social distancing guidelines. Where social distancing is not possible then additional safeguards will be implemented.

We will be in touch with farmers, advisors, or other stakeholders to make alternative arrangements for any scheduled face-to-face meetings. Where feasible scheduled face-to-face meetings will be replaced with phone or video call.

Precautions during farm visits

As of the 18th of May farm visits and field surveys will resume where they are deemed necessary, don’t require close person-person contact, are agreeable with the landowner, and can be conducted in line with any guidance from public authorities.

Where possible surveyors will work in isolation, but where necessary a maximum of two surveyors may visit a site. When two surveyors are working together they must travel to and from the site separately and maintain a distance of 2m at all times.

Facemasks will be worn if requested by landowner / other party and where possible all meetings will take place outdoors. All staff will be equipped with hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes which are to be used regularly throughout the day. All gates and surfaces will be wiped or sprayed with disinfectant after handling.

All staff will practice good hand hygiene and coughing etiquette at all times and only visit shops/petrol stations when necessary during travel to and from field sites, and use contactless payments where possible.

We will continue to monitor the situation and update our approach as necessary and will notify stakeholders of any significant changes. We wish all of our farmers and colleagues well during this difficult period.

#pearlmusselproject #musselrivers #EIPAgri #RuralNetwork #agriculture_ie

PMP 2020 Revised Payment Bands and Rates

Following a review of the Programme, informed partly by farmer feedback, we have revised our payment structure for 2020. 

The main changes include:

1. Payment bands have been consolidated into three new bands (Band A: 0-30ha, Band B: 30-70ha, and Band C: >70ha). The effect of this change is that the highest payment rates will be available to the first 30ha of land rather than 15ha, as was the case on 2019.

2. Minor change to the payment rates across each band. Then most significant change is the higher payments available for habitat quality scores of 7.

2020 Payment Bands and Rates

3. The potential floodplain payment is now available to all farmers with land along the main freshwater pearl mussel rivers as a recognition of the importance of these lands in sustaining high water quality within the rivers. The payment is related to habitat quality (higher quality = higher payment) and the contribution the lands make towards supporting freshwater pearl mussel.

The effect of making the changes will increase the annual results-based payment for most participant farmers in 2020 onwards. The new payment rates will better reward farmers for providing environmental benefits and will create a greater incentive for farmers to improve the environmental quality of their farms.

You can see full details in the Pearl Mussel Programme - Terms & Conditions Update (June 2020)

#pearlmusselproject #musselrivers #EIPagri #RuralNetwork @agriculture_ie

Young freshwater pearl mussel photos tell a sad story

Juvenile mussels Owenriff 3

On saturday morning we posted some images of young freshwater pearl mussel taken by Martin Gibbons one of PMP programme farmers in the Owenriff, Co. Galway last week.

Although we are really delighted to see juvenile mussels in the river, it turns out SEEING young mussels on surface of river bed is NOT a good thing, as Dr Evelyn Moorkens, Ireland’s foremost freshwater pearl mussel expert explains:

“A combination of low flows and poor river bed quality lead to a decrease in oxygen in the river bed where young mussels should be buried up to 10cm deep. In low oxygen situations mussels move up to the open water in an attempt to get enough oxygen to stay alive, as we see in the photos. 

These 8 to 12 year old mussels may be lucky enough to survive, but their younger relatives, buried in the river bed are not likely to survive these conditions. It just takes one day of these poor conditions in 2000 to kill the younger age groups of 1mm to 30mm juvenile pearl mussels. 

It’s a heartbreaking sight in one of our best rivers to lose these precious young mussels from the safety of the river bed. 

These photos show how important the work of the Pearl Mussel Project is in our “Top 8” catchments. The landowners and farmers that are part of the pearl mussel project are working hard to make sure the flow and condition of the best rivers improve so that hopefully we can get more juvenile recruitment and future juveniles can live and thrive where they belong - buried in the river bed”.

#pearlmusselproject #musselrivers #EIPagri #RuralNetwork @agriculture_ie

Juvenile mussels Owenriff 2

Juvenile mussels Owenriff 1

© Pearl Mussel Project Ltd 2018