#INLAND WATERWAYS - Minister Fergus O'Dowd was on hand to launch a new smartphone app to help fight the war against aquatic invasive species and pathogens in Ireland.
The launch at Galway Weir last Monday coincided with the opening of a disinfection facility for salmon anglers and a durable set of invasive species ID cards on a key ring as a handy reference for angling and boating enthusiasts on Ireland's inland waterways.
Launching the initiatives, Minister O’Dowd said: "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 smartphone technology in our ongoing campaigns to help prevent their spread. I would urge all anglers and water users to help us by downloading and using the app."
The 'Habitats - Invasive Species' app for Android devices allows users to photograph and automatically record the location of environmentally damaging and potentially hazardous aquatic and bankside invasive species - such as the notorious Asian clam that has taken residence in the Grand Canal, the River Shannon and Lough Derg.
The geo-referenced photos of suspected invasive species are uploaded to a central server for verification by scientists with Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).
If a new location for an invasive species that is already known to occur in Ireland is recorded, it will be uploaded onto IFI’s interactive distribution map which can be accessed at www.fisheriesireland.ie.
If a new species to Ireland is recorded, IFI will implement its 'Rapid Response' protocol and the sighting will be immediately investigated.
The new app was 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," said IFI's Dr Joe Caffrey.
"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."