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Inland Fisheries Ireland issues Easter alert to anglers and craft owners over invasive species spread

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Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has urged anglers and watercraft owners to help stop the spread of invasive species by carefully checking, cleaning, and drying their boats and equipment when travelling from one waterway to another this Easter.

In particular, IFI is asking users of the River Shannon and its tributaries to take action to halt the proliferation of non-native species that may cling to crafts as the latter move along the waters.

IFI is recommending that anglers, and motorised and non-motorised watercraft owners/users, do not move boats or craft from the Shannon, and its lakes, tributaries, and interconnected canals to other waterbodies.

Francis O’Donnell CEO, Inland Fisheries Ireland, commented: “Many people will take to the Shannon and other waters during the Easter holidays. We are appealing to users to be vigilant and proactive in reducing the advance of invasive species in inland Irish waters.

“We are asking users, in so far as is practical, not to move their boats between waterbodies. Our preference is that no movement of any watercraft from the Shannon and its tributaries is undertaken.

“However, if people must do so, then to please make time to disinfect their boats and fishing equipment. This will curb the spread of harmful organisms such as the Quagga mussel, which was first detected on the Shannon in 2021.

“The growth of certain alien species has a dramatic contamination impact on the watercourse.  Aquatic invasive species, either flora or fauna, are detrimental to Ireland’s native fish populations and their delicate habitats and ecosystems.

“Users should always assume they are going from a contaminated waterway to clean waterway and take precautions to ensure they don’t carry any alien species with them,” said Mr O’Donnell.

There are currently 10 key aquatic invasive species in the River Shannon, according to latest research from the Invasive Ecology Laboratory at the School of Biology and Environmental Science at UCD.

Anglers, boat owners, cruisers, sailing, and recreational waterways users on kayaks, canoes or jet-skis are being asked to implement preventative biosecurity measures in line with Check, Clean, Dry protocols, such as:

  • Checking craft, equipment, and clothing/footwear after leaving the water for mud, aquatic animals or plant material – removing anything found and leaving it at the site;
  • Cleaning equipment, clothing and footwear, as soon as possible – using hot water – paying attention to ropes, bilges, trailers, the inside of boats, and areas that are damp and hard to access;
  • Drying and draining all parts of the craft/ trailer and equipment/clothing before leaving the site, and allowing to air dry for at least 48 hours.

Members of the public who encounter invasive species can report sightings via: https://invasives.ie/what-can-i-do/report-sightings/. IFI is also requesting that citizens help protect and conserve fisheries resources on the Shannon and elsewhere in Ireland, over Easter, by reporting incidents or suspicions of illegal fishing to its confidential phone number 0818 34 74 24