Episode 1 Home Ground


Episode 1

Gavin Andrews and Jo Scott present a new series of the rural affairs magazine celebrating the richness of rural life in Northern Ireland.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to a new season

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and a new series of Home Ground.

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Over the next four weeks,

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we'll be celebrating the richness of rural life -

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its people, places and stories.

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And here's what is coming up on tonight's programme.

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Home Ground goes underground.

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There's a honeycomb of abandoned mines under our feet

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and these days they've got some new inhabitants.

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It's one of the busiest harbours in Ireland.

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So what will Brexit mean for the fishing industry in Kilkeel?

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And I've been finding out how the humble trout is helping save

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an endangered species in the Ballinderry River.

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We're not trying to take all the fish out of this section of river...

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-OK.

-..because we obviously want some fish to spawn here.

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That doesn't make me feel as bad now!

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But first tonight, we're here in County Fermanagh

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at the Crom Estate,

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where preparations are under way to open the doors to the public

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after the winter break.

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On the shores of upper Lough Erne,

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Crom is one of Ireland's most important conservation areas

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and surely enjoys one of the best locations.

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The estate is home to all sorts of wildlife and plants,

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but something that sets this place apart is the abundance

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of important woodland and trees.

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It's sort of 50-50 make-up.

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So 50% woodland on the estate,

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50% trees,

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-so a thousand acres of each.

-OK.

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So it's fair to say the trees are part of the main attraction here?

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Oh, definitely. Yes.

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We have the largest area of oak woodland in Northern Ireland.

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Wow!

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But of course it's not all about the oak trees.

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-No, definitely not.

-Look at these. SHE GASPS

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The yews.

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-How old are these?

-To be honest, that's debated quite a bit.

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It all basically boils down to the fact that if you look at the trees,

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both of them either side, there's loads and loads of stems

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sort of all twined and joined together.

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So to get the accurate age is difficult.

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But the best estimate is that the female tree,

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which is this tree here,

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is somewhere about 500 years old.

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And the male tree, it's thought that it's about 100 years younger,

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so round about 400.

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A very naive question - how can you tell this is female and that's male?

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This time of the year, with the female it's a little bit difficult

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to tell. But the female has red berries in the autumn-winter time.

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Actually, at the minute you can see on the male tree, the flowers.

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You can see them on the outside,

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the wee yellow... Little flowers growing.

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Imagine, you know, 500 years...

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..the stories this tree could tell.

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And they're pretty famous, too.

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Yes, they are indeed.

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They would be on several registers of ancient trees, veteran trees,

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whatnot. Going back in the 1600s there are records of them.

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They wrote about O'Neill bidding farewell to his love

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under the already ancient yew of Crom and stuff like that.

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So they go right back in the history books.

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They're really special. It's lovely to be here.

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Yeah.

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'And there is something magical about this place.

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'Not just the look of the twisted and gnarled wood,

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'but here underneath the canopy, it feels like a different world.

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'It's like stepping into a fairy tale.'

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Is there a lot of work in maintaining these yews?

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To be honest, we leave them at it.

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They don't grow massively quick.

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And the only thing we would step in with,

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say there was a branch hanging right down or something like that,

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or something that was obviously dangerous, we might remove that.

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But to be honest, we try and step back and don't really interfere

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with them.

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But other trees here do need attention.

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The winter months are the important time of the year for conservation

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on the estate, with rangers hard at work making sure the estate

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is at its best as it opens again to the public.

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Today is about making sure the trees are cleared of dead wood

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and any signs of disease.

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This is a tree on the entrance avenue that's identified

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as showing the first signs of a bit of dieback.

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So just as a preventative measure, they are looking at taking this limb

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away here that's extending over the avenue just in case if ever it came

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down on the avenue or on a windy day.

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I guess you've got visitors coming in and out here all the time

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so it poses a bit of a safety risk, but dieback, did you say?

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Just at the very ends, you may be able to see,

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especially just out this side,

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some of the tips of the branches are not looking very healthy.

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And why is that? Have they just weathered?

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-Is that just age?

-It could be age as well, but there is some fungus

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here on the far side as well, so there's probably some...

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-Oh, yeah.

-Something at work here in this tree,

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but that's not uncommon on an old tree like this.

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How old would this tree be?

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Crikey, it could be 200 years old possibly...

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-Really?

-..or fairly close to it anyway.

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'Colin has been working on trees here for over 15 years

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'and he certainly knows a thing or two about how to climb them.'

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Do you find that the trees on the estate require special treatment

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-generally?

-There is a lot of veterans or a lot of old

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sort of mature trees here so you don't like working on them unless

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you have to and that's probably the National Trust's policy here.

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Only really do things if they have to,

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if it's a danger either to buildings or people.

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I'm just going to go out that limb now, Jo.

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-OK.

-Probably about halfway or so

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and then take those bits off at the end.

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Is there a danger in taking that quite significant branch off there,

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Colin, you could cause damage to the rest of the tree?

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There would be a slight risk that you're creating a large wound

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in the tree that sort pathogens can get into the tree,

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but you've got to weigh these things up

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with the risk to the public as well.

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The tree is declining in health so it just makes sense to take this off

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just as a preventative measure.

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I'll make sure the final cut leaves the minimum surface area

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for any pathogens to get into.

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So we'll hopefully do the best we can for it anyway.

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Trees generally, they store their defence mechanisms just sort of

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at that branch collar which is just about here so we're going to try

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and take it off. That's roughly 90 degrees to that branch collar,

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so not too flush in with the stem and that will give the tree the best

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chance to protect itself against infection

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coming in through that wound there.

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I'm happy enough with that, Jo.

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Any more, I'd be going into the tree itself,

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so I'm happy enough with that.

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-Good.

-A cup of tea time?

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Now, did you know there is an underground maze of old mines

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beneath the Northern Irish countryside?

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I've been to Mallusk in County Antrim to discover this hidden world

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and the things which live there.

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This might just look like regular farmland,

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but hidden beneath my feet is a labyrinth of tunnels,

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physical reminders of our mining past.

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'Today I'm at Lyle Hill near Mallusk with Geological Survey NI

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'who maintain these mines.'

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-Morning, Kieran.

-Morning, Gavin.

-How are you?

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-Doing good.

-What's the plan of attack today?

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Well, what we're going to do is look at one of the old iron ore mines

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and bauxite mines in Northern Ireland.

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There is a network of these across County Antrim.

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Hundreds of them around the country.

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There is roughly 2,500 old mines working throughout Northern Ireland

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in different places, County Antrim,

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but specifically on the iron ore and the bauxite,

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where the industry only took off in the middle of the 19th century,

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steadily declined in the early 20th century,

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however it reappeared again during the Second World War.

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There is a real maze of tunnels to see today?

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Yes, this is an original mine plan when the mine closed up.

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This is from 1945.

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This as where we stand just outside this entrance here.

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As we look at the plan,

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it's 650 metres long,

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350 metres wide and there is almost 9km of tunnels underground here.

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-Shall we take a look?

-Yeah, let's go.

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'We're heading into a subterranean world, rarely visited today.'

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Kieran, what were they mining in here, then?

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Well, this mine was first driven into the hillside

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in 1880 for iron ore.

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It closed down in the early 1900s

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and then it was reopened again in 1942 for its bauxite properties.

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You can see here on the rock, you have the iron ore...

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..seam. This is extending down and what we have at the bottom here

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is a bauxite seam.

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Bauxite is a mineral ore which is processed to make aluminium.

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And it was big in the war?

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It was much needed during the Second World War. There was...

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Demand increased,

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therefore, the Ministry of Aircraft Production

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set about investigations to get reserves because importing reserves

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wasn't possible due to the U-boat threat.

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'During World War II,

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'180 men were employed at this mine

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'producing 15,000 tons of bauxite per week.'

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I can imagine what conditions would have been like to work

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back in the day.

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Yes, well, it would have been done by hand,

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by pickaxe and shovel.

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And the mine itself would have been lit by candles.

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So what you see throughout the mine is a number of these carved out

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into the rock. These would have been done by the miners where they can

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put their candles so that they could work.

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No torches in the '40s.

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No torches, no electricity underground back then.

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Let's get on down in. Don't get me lost.

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The mines are mostly used now

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by...

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Different inhabitants?

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Yeah, different inhabitants - badgers, foxes, bats,

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so wildlife has really taken over the space.

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'While the public are advised to keep away,

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'we're in here today under strict supervision along with

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'bat conservationists working in a mine for the very first time.'

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Looking in through the nooks and crannies, I found Dave.

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-How are you?

-Hi, there. How's it going?

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How are you getting on with the search for bats today?

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We've been quite lucky today, we've actually found the bats.

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That's a nice wee surprise cos we didn't know whether we were going to

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find any at all down here today.

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This is new for you - this whole experience getting into a mine?

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Absolutely.

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We've never really looked for hibernating bats before

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in Northern Ireland or Ireland as a whole, so, yeah,

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anything that we find is exciting and new for us,

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so, we've been very lucky, though,

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we found a bat around the corner.

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So, yeah, do you want to go and have a look?

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Yeah. Let's go for it. You lead the way.

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Well, most people I know are scared of bats.

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What got you into them?

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Well, your friends wouldn't be alone in being frightened of bats.

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Most people have quite a few misconceptions about them,

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from getting stuck in your hair

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and carrying disease and things like that,

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but, no, I think they are amazing little creatures.

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Are there many different types of species in Northern Ireland?

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Where would you generally find them?

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We've got eight different species of bat in Northern Ireland.

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There's nine in the island of Ireland as a whole.

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-Where would you find them?

-Well, at this time of year,

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down mines because they're going to be hibernating.

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Places like this because generally bats are only active in Ireland

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during the summer - spring and summer months.

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When you come into wintertime, they go into hibernation.

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They're looking for nice, cold, cool places like this.

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This is the hibernating bat.

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We've found one and he's hanging in the top of the chamber here.

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I feel like I need to keep my voice down. Not to disturb...

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Yeah, I think we really don't want to disturb hibernating bats

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because at this time of year,

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there's not many food resources for them

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so if they do wake up, they've got to use all their food resources

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that they've saved up for the winter, just like hibernating bears.

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It's a myotis bat.

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We've got three species of those in Northern Ireland.

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So this is one of the species of bat which in Britain that they monitor

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populations by going down in mines like this and looking for them.

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So this is kind of exciting because we've never done it.

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We've never found hibernating bats like this.

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So, hopefully this will be the first of many adventures underground

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-that we will be taking.

-He's in bat heaven up there, isn't he?

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Yeah, he's having sweet dreams.

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Very sweet dreams hopefully.

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'Nowadays, the miners may have gone, but thanks to their hard work,

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'our native bats have a home.'

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Kilkeel Harbour is one of the busiest in Ireland with around 1,000

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people employed in the fishing industry there.

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Ruth Sanderson has been to the village to see how Brexit

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could affect their future.

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The fishing industry has been in decline throughout the UK

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for several decades. Yet while other ports might be empty,

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Kilkeel bucks the trend.

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Around 1,000 people are employed locally in fishing and its related

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businesses and Kilkeel wants to keep expanding.

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These scallops have been caught a few miles off the Kilkeel Harbour

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so they are a fresh product straight in from the sea.

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'Around 20 tonnes of scallops get processed and are exported from here

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'each year, mainly to France.'

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The fishing industry famously was very pro-Brexit,

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very much wanted out of Europe,

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said it would be a lot stronger for the industry.

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But as a businessman who exports to Europe,

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what are your thoughts on it?

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Well, my thoughts on Brexit,

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it's going to be good for the fishing and the processing industry.

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Fishing-wise, we'll get a fairer share of the quota in the UK waters

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which will bring more raw materials into the processing market

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and as well, the customers that I have been dealing with

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and talking to still want the product from the UK,

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still want the product from Northern Ireland.

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So I can't see a problem of selling our product into Europe.

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Even if, say, tariffs were introduced later down the line?

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Later down the line, that's something, a hurdle we'll have to

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cross, but I think the quality of the goods

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coming from Northern Ireland... That the European market

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will still want our products. We've looked further afield.

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We've looked at markets in China and in Hong Kong and the Asian market

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as well. So it has given us a prompt to go further afield as well.

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A lot of people in food production are really panicked about Brexit

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because they rely on seasonal workers and a lot of staff,

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especially from Eastern Europe.

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Are you going to face that problem here?

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I don't think we will. I think there is a future for local people,

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that they see the industry building,

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they see that there is a future and they're willing to invest now

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and want to work again at the harbour.

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They can see that there is a brighter future there.

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'But it's not just a good deal from Europe which is needed.

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'The harbour needs to physically expand if it's to make the most

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'of any benefits Brexit might bring.'

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Well, the Endurance is part of the local fleet in Kilkeel

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and the Endurance is undergoing a significant modernisation

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and refurbishment and behind me is a new ship that's been built

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for the Irish Republic and it is one of the great success stories

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about Kilkeel, that we're building boats,

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not just for the local fleet,

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but we're exporting them all over Europe.

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Do you have the capacity to build all the boats

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that you need to build?

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If you're getting orders in from the south and from Europe and from...?

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Well, this yard has actually outgrown itself and the problem

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that we have is there is not enough capacity in Kilkeel for all the work

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that we could handle. In fact, the marine engineers tell me

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that about 50% of the inquiries that they get,

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that's work that they have to turn away.

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-Sorry, 50% of the work...

-50%.

-The prospective work when people come

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to ask engineers from Kilkeel to work, you have to say,

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"No, I'm sorry, we don't have the room"?

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You look at geographical position of Kilkeel in terms of the east coast

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of Ireland, we're right in the middle, so therefore,

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you can attract trade from the north and you can attract trade from the

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south and attract trade from the east too because we've got a boat

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here today from Fleetwood.

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And the reason they come here is because we've got the facilities,

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we've got the engineers who have the expertise and everything else.

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So Kilkeel is a real hub, it's a real maritime hub,

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it's a real fishing hub,

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but the problem we have now is we don't have the capacity in Kilkeel,

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we don't have the infrastructure in order to handle all the enquiries

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and all the work that we could be doing and when you're in a situation

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where here in Kilkeel we've got three of the largest fishing vessels

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in the European fleet that are too big to get into this harbour

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and have to base themselves in other parts of the United Kingdom,

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there's so much lost opportunity to Kilkeel,

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to County Down and the Northern Ireland economy.

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That's amazing that you've got boats from Kilkeel which are too big

0:17:530:17:57

to actually get into your harbour here?

0:17:570:18:00

Absolutely. We have a new ship being built at the moment.

0:18:000:18:02

It is called the Voyager. It's owned by a local family.

0:18:020:18:04

It's crewed by a local family.

0:18:040:18:06

It is 100% private investment,

0:18:060:18:08

but that ship is traditionally based on Shetland because there is no

0:18:080:18:12

infrastructure in Northern Ireland to bring that ship in to.

0:18:120:18:15

-Hiya.

-Hello, there.

0:18:150:18:17

'But the ships that do land their catch here,

0:18:170:18:19

'a lot is riding on the Brexit negotiations.'

0:18:190:18:22

So what are you fishing for on this boat?

0:18:220:18:25

Mostly prawns.

0:18:250:18:26

Nearly all year round, we're targeting prawns.

0:18:260:18:29

And you're about to go out again.

0:18:290:18:31

-Where are you off to now?

-We're going to head south again,

0:18:310:18:33

back down to the Celtic sea. It takes us about 20 hours.

0:18:330:18:37

Steaming to get there.

0:18:370:18:39

I take it you were pro-Brexit yourself?

0:18:390:18:41

Yes, definitely.

0:18:410:18:43

What are you hoping for going forward?

0:18:430:18:46

Instead of being governed by Brussels -

0:18:460:18:48

Brussels tell us what we can catch, you know, when we can catch it,

0:18:480:18:52

you know, where we can fish, and I want us to take control,

0:18:520:18:57

stop a lot of the European boats coming in and over-fishing

0:18:570:19:01

our areas, certain areas.

0:19:010:19:04

Big super trawlers and, you know...

0:19:040:19:06

But mainly, I hope that...

0:19:080:19:10

..we can start looking after our industry ourselves.

0:19:120:19:15

When they sign Article 50, hopefully they don't sell us down the river.

0:19:150:19:18

-That's the fear, isn't it?

-That is our fear.

0:19:180:19:22

They use us as a bargaining chip to keep some other things in Europe,

0:19:220:19:26

you know, for whatever reasons, but that is one of our biggest fears.

0:19:260:19:30

What fishermen here in Kilkeel and County Down want is absolutely

0:19:310:19:34

a fair share of the opportunities that are within UK waters.

0:19:340:19:38

But when a fisherman in County Down is asked on annual basis

0:19:380:19:42

to give up quota,

0:19:420:19:43

to give up the quota that the scientists have recommended,

0:19:430:19:46

that should be given away to their colleagues in the Irish Republic,

0:19:460:19:49

that's an EU rule. The deal needs to be fairer.

0:19:490:19:53

And when 75% of the waters in the Irish Sea are under the UK's

0:19:530:19:58

jurisdiction, you tell me,

0:19:580:20:00

is it fair that County Down fishermen should have around 40%

0:20:000:20:03

of the catches in the Irish Sea? I don't think so.

0:20:030:20:05

So what's the future for this harbour?

0:20:050:20:08

Well, the future for the fishing industry in County Down

0:20:080:20:11

and specifically Kilkeel is bright.

0:20:110:20:14

As I walk out round the quay in Kilkeel and I talk to fishermen,

0:20:140:20:18

those guys are saying to me,

0:20:180:20:19

"There's a future and we're investing in the future."

0:20:190:20:22

We're investing in the future for ourselves and we're investing in the

0:20:220:20:25

future for our children. So all the signs are positive.

0:20:250:20:29

'Not only could fishing in Kilkeel continue to grow,

0:20:300:20:34

'but it could bolster the entire local economy.

0:20:340:20:36

'So will the gamble to leave Europe pay off?

0:20:360:20:39

'Only time will tell.'

0:20:390:20:41

Trout are now common in our rivers and lakes,

0:20:450:20:48

but because of declining numbers in the past,

0:20:480:20:51

some still need a little help.

0:20:510:20:53

I've been to the Ballinderry River to find out

0:20:530:20:55

how a healthy trout population benefits the river's ecology.

0:20:550:20:59

'The Ballinderry River and surrounding area support

0:21:080:21:11

'an abundance of wildlife,

0:21:110:21:13

'but this river catchment has suffered from pollution.

0:21:130:21:16

'Worryingly, low levels of fish stocks in the 1980s

0:21:160:21:20

'prompted the establishment of the Ballinderry Rivers Trust

0:21:200:21:23

'who've made it their mission

0:21:230:21:25

'to keep this river system clean and healthy.'

0:21:250:21:28

Well, Mark, you're fully kitted out, complete with shades.

0:21:280:21:32

Tell us about some of the work you're doing today.

0:21:320:21:35

OK, so what we're doing today is electro-fishing and the reason we're

0:21:350:21:38

doing this is to catch larger fish to bring back our hatchery

0:21:380:21:42

so we can take the eggs from them

0:21:420:21:44

and grow those eggs on in the hatchery so we can breed fish

0:21:440:21:48

to put back into the river again.

0:21:480:21:49

And the shades so you can see rather than look cool?

0:21:490:21:52

They're not just to make me look cool, no!

0:21:520:21:54

The shades help me to see through the water.

0:21:540:21:57

So at this time of year when we're looking for these fish,

0:21:570:22:01

the sun is very low in the sky...

0:22:010:22:02

..and it reflects on the water.

0:22:030:22:05

It's quite hard to see the fish and these help me to see right

0:22:050:22:07

to the bed of the river.

0:22:070:22:09

I didn't pay a lot of attention at school,

0:22:090:22:11

but I'm pretty sure electricity and water doesn't really go too well

0:22:110:22:14

-together?

-Well, you learnt the important lesson, then.

0:22:140:22:17

You shouldn't mix electricity with water!

0:22:170:22:20

Nobody should really try this at home.

0:22:200:22:22

But it is the standard method that is used across Europe and the world

0:22:220:22:27

and essentially what we're doing here is just putting a very small

0:22:270:22:30

electrical current - just enough to attract the fish towards this lance

0:22:300:22:35

that I have in the water.

0:22:350:22:37

What kind of fish are we expecting to see today?

0:22:370:22:39

We're looking here for Dollaghan trout

0:22:390:22:42

and Dollaghan trout are unique to the Lough Neagh basin.

0:22:420:22:47

So they are born in the rivers here, in the Ballinderry

0:22:470:22:52

and all the other rivers around Lough Neagh

0:22:520:22:54

and at two years of age

0:22:540:22:56

they go to the lough.

0:22:560:22:58

-Here's fish now.

-There we go.

0:22:580:22:59

-So we're starting to...

-Oh, that's a biggie.

-Yeah.

0:22:590:23:02

Well done.

0:23:040:23:06

Good recovery. What's that?

0:23:060:23:08

'It's not long before more fish are drawn towards us.'

0:23:080:23:12

There is your fish there.

0:23:120:23:14

-There we go.

-Lift him up. Brilliant.

0:23:140:23:16

-Well done.

-Jackpot.

0:23:160:23:18

Here, here, here.

0:23:180:23:19

Oh, that's a biggie.

0:23:190:23:21

-That's it. Lift him up.

-Ooh, he is big.

0:23:210:23:24

There we go.

0:23:260:23:28

Mouth open. Get him out of the water.

0:23:280:23:30

There we go. A few leaves in there for good measure.

0:23:330:23:36

You're doing well. We're doing well.

0:23:360:23:38

There's actually a good number of young fish in here that we're seeing

0:23:400:23:44

-as we go, which is a good sign.

-Yeah, that's encouraging for you.

0:23:440:23:47

Yeah, because it means that fish that were hatched out of their eggs

0:23:470:23:52

in March of this year or in fact even March of the previous year

0:23:520:23:56

are still here living in this section of the river.

0:23:560:23:59

Now, that one has got away.

0:23:590:24:00

That's OK.

0:24:000:24:01

-It's nice to let one or two away.

-Yeah.

0:24:030:24:05

We're not trying to take all the fish out of this section of river

0:24:050:24:08

because we obviously want some fish to spawn here.

0:24:080:24:11

That doesn't make me feel as bad now!

0:24:110:24:13

-That's what we're looking for.

-It is, yeah.

0:24:130:24:16

'Well, it has been a pretty successful day out on the river.

0:24:160:24:19

'Time to get these guys back into the hatchery.'

0:24:190:24:22

I think that's a fantastic-looking fish.

0:24:230:24:25

And hopefully she'll give us plenty of eggs

0:24:250:24:27

to put down in the hatchery here.

0:24:270:24:28

'Frank Mitchell has 20 years' experience in this hatchery

0:24:280:24:32

'and is going to show me how it's done.'

0:24:320:24:34

And if she's just right, the skin should be loose here

0:24:340:24:37

and the eggs are all lying in the cavity of the fish here.

0:24:370:24:40

If we just add a nice piece of pressure and the fish settles down,

0:24:400:24:46

hopefully we should be fit to take the eggs from the fish.

0:24:460:24:50

Now you can see the eggs come from the fish.

0:24:500:24:54

I'm no expert, but that looks good.

0:24:540:24:55

Yeah.

0:24:550:24:57

I suppose it has been a few years of practice to get this skill.

0:24:570:25:02

And you try to do it without harming the fish.

0:25:020:25:05

Essentially the cell wall of the egg has to open

0:25:060:25:09

to allow the milt in and then we gently agitate the eggs...

0:25:090:25:14

..so they all become fertilised.

0:25:150:25:17

Are they getting lighter or it just me?

0:25:170:25:19

Yeah, you can see them getting lighter because they're getting

0:25:190:25:22

fertilised so they're actually starting to change colour.

0:25:220:25:25

Going kind of from red to orange?

0:25:250:25:27

It literally does happen in front of your eyes.

0:25:270:25:29

'Breeding in the hatchery increases the chances of success

0:25:290:25:32

'by an incredible 90% and a healthy fish population

0:25:320:25:36

'has a knock-on effect on the whole ecosystem.'

0:25:360:25:39

So, these are freshwater pearl mussels

0:25:390:25:42

and this is a globally endangered species.

0:25:420:25:45

The freshwater pearl mussel is now only found in five rivers

0:25:450:25:49

in Northern Ireland and the Ballinderry is one of them.

0:25:490:25:52

Historically, we would have had hundreds of thousands,

0:25:520:25:56

if not millions of them in our rivers

0:25:560:25:58

and we're now down to the last few thousand

0:25:580:26:00

in each of those five rivers.

0:26:000:26:02

But they are an unusual creature because they need fish to survive.

0:26:020:26:07

So the males and the females are sitting here in this tank

0:26:070:26:12

and the male releases sperm into the water which is taken in

0:26:120:26:16

by the female and they're fertilised and then the female releases

0:26:160:26:22

microscopic mussels into the water.

0:26:220:26:24

It's at that point those microscopic mussels have to attach to the

0:26:240:26:28

gills of a fish and in our river it is trout they attach to.

0:26:280:26:31

So the big picture becomes clear.

0:26:310:26:34

Yeah, absolutely.

0:26:340:26:35

So if you don't have very good numbers of fish in the river,

0:26:350:26:38

these guys haven't got a hope at all.

0:26:380:26:40

So by redressing the balance of fish in the river,

0:26:400:26:43

we're also helping to preserve these mussels

0:26:430:26:45

and save them from extinction.

0:26:450:26:47

And then we've put those fish carrying their precious cargo

0:26:470:26:51

out into the Ballinderry River to drop them on the bed of the river

0:26:510:26:54

as it would have happened naturally.

0:26:540:26:55

So what's the future looking like for the pearl mussel?

0:26:550:26:58

Well, the future for the pearl mussel in the Ballinderry

0:26:580:27:01

at least is looking a bit brighter now

0:27:010:27:03

because of the work we've been doing here.

0:27:030:27:05

We've been able to release freshwater pearl mussel

0:27:050:27:08

back to the river and we're just about to start

0:27:080:27:10

a major reintroduction programme.

0:27:100:27:12

'It's the end of the day and this is what it's all about -

0:27:140:27:18

'releasing these endangered mussels back into the river.'

0:27:180:27:21

-What's the technique to pop them in?

-So it's not complicated,

0:27:230:27:25

you'll be glad to hear!

0:27:250:27:27

We have to make sure that we get it the right way round.

0:27:270:27:29

So this is the bottom of the mussel here where the hinge

0:27:290:27:32

is at the lowest place and then we put it facing upstream

0:27:320:27:36

into the flow of water.

0:27:360:27:37

So those mussels, believe it or not, do wiggle around in the gravel

0:27:370:27:41

and they allow oxygenated water to get to the fish eggs

0:27:410:27:43

and so very often where there's lots of mussels,

0:27:430:27:46

more trout would survive as well.

0:27:460:27:48

It is a really close relationship the two have.

0:27:480:27:50

Are these the days when you really feel your work is really worthwhile?

0:27:500:27:54

Absolutely. Yeah, yeah.

0:27:540:27:56

It's great when you can come out, get away from the computer,

0:27:560:27:59

come out to the river and this is making a real difference

0:27:590:28:01

to the conservation of a globally endangered species.

0:28:010:28:04

Not just for those mussels,

0:28:040:28:06

but for all the people that live in this river system as well.

0:28:060:28:09

That's all for this episode of Home Ground.

0:28:110:28:13

Join us at the same time next week.

0:28:130:28:15

-We'll see you, then.

-Bye-bye.

0:28:150:28:17

Home Ground returns for a new series, celebrating the richness of rural life in Northern Ireland. Gavin Andrews and Jo Scott introduce us to a host of stories and people who use the countryside for work, rest and play.


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