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New crayfish legislation to strengthen measures to protect native white-clawed crayfish

October 2nd, 2018 | by

New crayfish legislation to strengthen measures to protect native white-clawed crayfish

Anglers reminded to maintain vigilance against crayfish plague

Inland Fisheries Ireland is welcoming new legislation which will strengthen existing measures to protect the native white-clawed crayfish. The regulations will provide authorities in Ireland with the powers to prevent the arrival and spread of the five non-native species of crayfish included on the EU list of invasive alien species of Union concern.

The White-clawed Crayfish is considered a globally threatened species and Ireland holds one of the largest surviving populations. The freshwater species is found in many rivers and lakes in Ireland and is protected under both Irish law and the EU Habitats Directive. Throughout Europe, the species has been decimated by the impact of a disease called Crayfish Plague.

A native white clawed crayfish. Photo by D.Gerke.

Many North American crayfish species are resistant to Crayfish Plague and can act as carriers of the disease which is rapidly fatal when passed to the White-clawed Crayfish. While there is no evidence that North American or other non-native crayfish have been introduced to Ireland, the crayfish plague has now reached five rivers in Ireland possibly by spores carried on fishing equipment.

The prospect of the disease being controlled depends on the absence of non-native crayfish. The European Union (Invasive Alien Species) (Freshwater Crayfish) Regulations 2018 targets the introduction of several species of non-native crayfish which have been included on the EU list of invasive alien species of Union concern (‘the Union list’).

The public is asked to alert the authorities of any mass mortalities of crayfish or sightings of unusual crayfish (e.g. red claws, large size) by contacting the National Parks and Wildlife Service (www.npws.ie), the National Biodiversity Data Centre (www.biodiversityireland.ie) or Inland Fisheries Ireland (www.fisheriesireland.ie).

Protect against the Crayfish Plague

Anyone using the river is being urged to observe the ‘Check, Clean and Dry’ protocol once they leave the river and before using it again. This means that all wet gear (boats, clothing and equipment) should be checked for any silt or mud, plant material or animals before being cleaned and finally dried. Disinfectant or hot water (over 40 degrees Celsius) should be used to clean all equipment and this should be followed by a 24 hour drying period.

 


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