#Angling - The fight to stop the spread of invasive aquatic species in Ireland took to the frontline at the weekend with the launch by Minister Fergus O'Dowd of an Individual Angler Disinfection Kit – the first of its type in the world.
The kits are produced by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and funded by the CIRB (Controlling Invasives, Restoring Biodersity) INTERREG IVA Project, and were launched at the Ireland Angling Show 2013 on Sunday 17 February.
The kit is available in a durable and convenient kit bag and comprises 20 Virkon Aquatic (50g) tablets; a 500ml plastic trigger spray bottle; disposable gloves; a stiff bristle brush for cleaning boots, etc; a practical instruction manual; invasive species identification cards on a handy key ring; a metal ‘Stop the spread of invasive species’ badge; and an array of useful and relevant invasive species literature.
Now available from IFI, the kit will cover disinfection for up to 20 angling trips, and will help ensure that invasive species are not spread by unsuspecting anglers as they move from one watercourse to another.
In recent years, IFI says it has worked closely with anglers’ federations, clubs and other grouping to ensure that they are aware of the risks posed by aquatic invasive species and of actions that they can take to minimise the risk of introducing or spreading these aggressive and potentially harmful species. Invasive species include aquatic plants, animals (insects and fish) and microscopic pathogens.
The minister said: “Disinfection facilities have been developed by IFI to cater for large groups of anglers attending organised competitions and these have been well received. However, there are many anglers who do not fish competitions and who like to seek the solace of a quite water body where they can test their skills against the resident fish or simply watch a float as it bobbles in the water.
“We want to raise awareness among these anglers and help them in the same way as competition anglers to guard against the introduction or spread of invasive species or harmful pathogens."
Logistically it is impossible to provide disinfection facilities at every watercourse in the country to cater for all of Ireland's anglers, so a different approach was required. IFI says it recognised the long-standing responsibility taken on by anglers to protect and not adversely impact the aquatic habitat or water quality, so it is providing anglers with a portable kit to make disinfection more efficient and cost-effective.
At the show, Minister O'Dowd demonstrated the kit with the assistance of Dr Joe Caffrey of IFI to show how individual disinfection of angler’s equipment and clothing is relatively simple and can prevent highly damaging invasive species such as Asian clam and zebra mussel, and fish pathogens like the salmon fluke Gyrodactylus from being transferred into un-infested water bodies.
The minister commented: "As I meet more and more anglers around the country I am struck by your enthusiasm, knowledge, expertise and environmental responsibility. As a budding angler myself I look forward to using this kit and I know that you will embrace this initiative to ensure that fishing as we know it now can continue and improve under our watch, safe from the introduction of hazardous invasive pathogens, plants and animals."