Minister Fergus O Dowd launched a smart phone app to help fight the war against aquatic Invasive Species and pathogens in Ireland at the famous Galway Weir yesterday, along with a disinfection facility for salmon anglers at the famous Inland Fisheries Ireland fishery; and a handy and durable set of invasive species identification cards on a key ring as part of a three pronged initiative to protect Irelands wonderful natural resources.
Inland Fisheries Ireland is the lead agency on the island of Ireland fighting the on-going battle against the threat of pernicious aquatic and riparian invasive species and aquatic pathogens which represent the one of the greatest threats to Ireland’s native species and habitats and prompt action may help prevent and protect our native biodiversity should invasive species be identified.
Launching the initiatives, Minister O’ Dowd stated ‘Unfortunately, the number of Invasive Species recorded in Ireland is continuing to expand. It is important that all technologies available to us to combat these potentially disastrous invasions are utilised. I am delighted, therefore, that we are able to harness the power of smart phone technology in our on-going campaigns to help prevent their spread. I would urge all anglers and water users to help us by downloading and using the app”.
The easy to use and readily accessible ‘Habitats – Invasive Species’ app allows users to photograph and automatically record the location of environmentally damaging and potentially hazardous aquatic and bankside invasive species. The geo-referenced photos of suspected invasive species are uploaded onto a central server for verification by IFI scientists. If a new location for an invasive species that is already known to occur in Ireland is recorded, the site will be uploaded onto IFI’s interactive distribution map, which can be accessed at www.fisheriesireland.ie. The recorder will be acknowledged for the record. If a new species to Ireland is recorded, IFI will implement its Rapid Response protocol and the sighting will be immediately investigated.
The ‘Habitats – Invasive Species’ app, developed in conjunction with MAC (the National Microelectronics Application Centre) as part of the EU Inspired Habitats Project, is available for free download from Google Play.
‘Already, discussions have taken place countrywide with angling clubs and federations about how best to implement disinfection for all domestic and tourist anglers – be they salmon, trout, pike or coarse anglers’ commented Dr Joe Caffrey, IFI, ‘the level of cooperation received to date is most heartening and reflects the growing concern among this stakeholder group about the obvious dangers to their sport and to the environment posed by aquatic invasive species and pathogens’.
Suzanne Campion,Head of Business Development, Inland Fisheries Ireland
Anglesea Street,Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.
Tel: 052 6180055 Fax: 052 6123971;
Photos on www.fisheriesireland.ie
Inland Fisheries Ireland is a statutory body operating under the aegis of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and was established under the Fisheries Act on 1st July 2010. Its principal function is the protection and conservation of the inland fisheries resource. IFI will promote, support, facilitate and advise the Minister on, the conservation, protection, management, development and improvement of inland fisheries, including sea angling and develop and advise the Minister on policy and national strategies relating to inland fisheries and sea angling.
These initiatives are the start of a major coordinated campaign that aims to:
- Create awareness among the widest range of stakeholders and the public at large of the dangers posed by invasive species and pathogens to our natural biodiversity, but also to our health and economy;
- provide an updated, modern and efficient mechanism to both identify invasive species but also to simultaneously report possible new sightings to IFI (IS app);
- put in place practical measures that will help to stop the introduction and spread of unwanted species and organisms to and in our watercourses (Disinfection facilities);
- provide practical aids to the identification of those priority invasive species (Key ring card set) that are already present on our island and also those that research analysis has indicated will likely arrive on our shores soon if preventative measures are not immediately taken;
Background information on invasive species
What are Invasive Species and why should we be so worried about them?
Invasive species are non-native plants and animals that successfully establish in their new aquatic habitats. Not all non-native species are, or become, invasive species and current problems are caused by only a small percentage of those non-native species that have been introduced into the country. Those non-native species that grow rapidly and exert a lasting adverse impact on native species and habitats are regarded as being invasive.
Invasive species represent one of the greatest threats to biodiversity worldwide, second only to that caused by direct habitat destruction. Their introduction is acknowledged to be one of the major causes of species extinction in freshwater ecosystems. In addition to reducing native biodiversity, invasive plants can adversely impact the recreational use of infested watercourses by restricting angling, boating, cruising, swimming and other leisure activities. Furthermore, they pose a significant threat to economic interests such as agriculture, forestry tourism and fisheries.
The estimated damage from invasive species worldwide totals more than $1.4 trillion –or 5% of the global economy. Estimated damage and control cost of invasive species in theU.S.alone amount to more than $138 billion annually. An estimated $100 million is spent annually to control aquatic weeds that clog waterways and alter natural ecosystems in the U.S. Controlling invasive aquatic species and repairing the damage caused by them costs European economies in excess of €12 billion each year. In the UK, it is estimated that the total cost of removing just one invasive weed – the Japanese Knotweed – using current techniques, is approximately £166 million annually.
How did Invasive Species get here and why are they now an increasing problem?
The expansion of world trade and the tourism market to include more destinations, coupled with the impacts of climate change, have led to the increased introduction, establishment and spread of invasive non-native species inIreland.
Rapidly accelerating world trade and international travel have allowed both deliberate and inadvertent movement of species between different parts of the globe, often resulting in unexpected and sometimes disastrous consequences. While expanding globalisation is having an acknowledged affect on the rate of non-native species introductions toIreland, it is considered that climate changewill have an equally substantial impact in the coming years by enabling some non-native species to reproduce and/or overwinter successfully, at the expense of our indigenous communities.
The number of invasive non-native aquatic and riparian species recorded inIrelandhas increased significantly in the past two decades. Those that are most invasive and that currently represent the greatest threat to biodiversity and commerce in Ireland include the fishes – Chub and Dace, the macroinvertebrates – Zebra mussel, Chinese mitten crab and the Bloody red shrimp, the riparian plants – Giant hogweed, Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam, and the aquatic plants – Curly leaved waterweed, Parrot’s feather, Fringed water lily, Water fern, Nuttall’s waterweed and New Zealand pigmyweed. This number is small by comparison with our nearest neighbours in theUKandEuropeand the threat of new invasions is ever-present and a constant cause for concern.
What was the stimulus for initiating the project on invasive species?
It was the increasing concern for our unique and fragile indigenous biotic communities and habitats, and in response to key recommendations in a 2004 report on Invasive Species, that led to the establishment of the Invasive Species inIrelandproject in 2006. The primary objectives of this all-Ireland (32 county) project were to reduce the risk of invasions of new species, develop contingency plans, engage key stakeholders and heighten public awareness.
In addition, as a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) the Irish Government is required to, as far as is possible and appropriate, ‘prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate those alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species’. Signatories must report on what has been done to implement the Convention and how effective this is in meeting the objectives of the Convention. Furthermore, invasive species are included as part of the assessment of pressures and impacts that will determine ecological status for the Water Framework Directive (WFD). It is widely recognised that invasive non-native species have the potential to compromise the achievement of Good Ecological Status for waterbodies, and the conservation objectives (‘to maintain or restore, at favourable conservation status’) for natural habitats and species (as per the Habitats Directive). The obligation on the Irish Government to prot ect Natura 2000 sites and features, under the Habitats Directive, offers a further important driver in the fight against invasive non-native species.
What is CAISIE and what are its main goals?
The broad objective of the project is to contribute to the halting of biodiversity loss inIrelandby preventing further impacts on native biodiversity from high impact aquatic invasive species. This will be achieved through the development and demonstration of effective control methods, a programme of stakeholder engagement and awareness raising, the enactment of appropriate robust legislation, and policy development and dissemination. Implicit in the project is the target of restoring natural communities and habitats once the invasive species have been controlled.
The project will focus its efforts on the control of an aggressive southern African weed (the Curly leaved waterweed)in one of our great western lakes, Lough Corrib, and on a variety of high impact invasive species in theGrand Canaland River Barrow Navigation. While it would have been desirable to broaden the scope of the project to include a far greater range of habitats and of invasive species, the level of funding available simply would not accommodate this. This project, therefore, will act as a demonstration project that will develop species control and management initiatives, codes of best practice, stakeholder engagement opportunities and significant capacity building arrangements. It is anticipated that these will have broad application throughoutIrelandandEurope.