MARK Boyden, owner of the Coomhola Salmon Trust in Bantry, was awarded an honorary degree of Master of Science in UCC last week.
Awarding him his degree, UCC Professor Emeritus Tom Cross summarised his key achievements. He pointed out that, after a varied early career as a philosophy student, a dairy farm manager and a theatre set designer, Mark Boyden established a freshwater environmental education and aquaculture research facility in Bantry 25 years ago.
Since that time he has built this facility into StreamScapes, which provides environmental education to primary and secondary school students.
Initially the focus was on Bantry river catchments but now extends much further afield – for example in the Beara and Ilen systems, and the Erne and Melvin catchments.
This initiative now employs several professionals in the areas of environmental monitoring and education, and involves a large number of primary and secondary schools, Prof Cross aid.
‘In addition, he has aimed for – and achieved – maximum community involvement in the conservation process, and over time has become an expert at conflict resolution, for example between salmon anglers and commercial netsmen, and between farmers and conservationists. He acts as a consultant to the Irish Government and the EU on fresh water management, conservation and interpretation of legislation, and has been a partner in several multinational projects,’ he added.
One of the key uses of his experimental aquaculture facility has been in the extremely difficult rearing the highly endangered freshwater mussel. This species is regarded by the EU as a ‘miner’s canary’ of pristine water quality, and the EU Water Framework Directive requires its continued existence in Irish catchments. In addition, he is prominent in the Irish slow food movement, and has recently turned his hand to travel writing with a book entitled ‘Travels in Zanskar’.
Prof Cross added that because of his self-motivated contributions, he ‘is an excellent example of the kind of individual who we feel should be honoured by the university in this way, particularly as he is within the Cork catchment.’
‘We were extremely strong in our support for this nomination,’ he added.