New Environment Minister says he will not 'shy away' from tackling blue green algae issue

The new DAERA Minister Andrew Muir has said he would not shy away from tackling the blue green algae crisis which closed north coast beaches last year.
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During a meeting on Wednesday (February 7) with the Lough Neagh Partnership the Minister also took a boat tour on Lough Neagh to see and hear first-hand the extent of the issue and to engage with key stakeholders.

“I am fully committed to urgently addressing the very serious issue of blue green algae not least to ensure protection of our beautiful environment, but to safeguard public and animal health as well as the local economy that heavily replies on the Lough,” said Minister Muir.

“It is clear, that over the past couple of decades, we have not got the balance right between growing our economy whilst safeguarding our natural environment. Lough Neagh is a manifestation of that and the undeniable impact of climate change means that there are no quick fixes. It is a complex, multi-factorial issue which will take decades to solve.

DAERA Minister Andrew Muir (left) takes a boat trip across Lough Neagh with Skipper and Fisheries Officer Eoin McFadden. Credit Simon GrahamDAERA Minister Andrew Muir (left) takes a boat trip across Lough Neagh with Skipper and Fisheries Officer Eoin McFadden. Credit Simon Graham
DAERA Minister Andrew Muir (left) takes a boat trip across Lough Neagh with Skipper and Fisheries Officer Eoin McFadden. Credit Simon Graham

“My officials have been working with colleagues from across departments and are drafting evidence-based recommendations to tackle blue green algae and secure long-term water quality improvements. We hope to publish this plan in the coming weeks and engage in another round of extensive engagement with key stakeholders such as Lough Neagh Partnership to discuss a way forward.

“Whatever approach we take it needs to be informed by science and evidence, including lessons from those other parts of the world which are also dealing with this same problem, and working with partners to deliver better outcomes,” Minister Muir added.