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Scientist Calls for Mandatory Biosecurity To Curtail Invasive Species Like Corbicula Clam

2nd August 2022
Corbicula clams on the river Barrow camouflaged as gravel
Corbicula clams on the river Barrow camouflaged as gravel

A UCC researcher has called for mandatory biosecurity measures to curtail the spread of invasive species through Ireland’s waterways.

As The Sunday Independent reports, post-doctoral researcher Dr Neil Coughlan warns the Corbicula clam could pose a serious threat to salmon and trout spawning beds in river systems.

The Corbicula clam is so clever that it resembles gravel on a river bed, and has the ability to reproduce without requiring a mate.

It can also interfere with power plant operation, drinking water abstraction and other industries using raw water.

Dr Coughlan, who has led a recently published study on the species in European waters, says that the vast majority of freshwaters on the island of Ireland are, unfortunately “suitable habitats” for the invasive species.

UCC researcher Dr  Neil Coughlan, invasive species expertUCC researcher Dr Neil Coughlan, invasive species expert

“Whereas zebra mussels, another invasive species, need a male and female, one single individual Corbicula clam can produce one long thread of clams which can spread from rivers overland, contaminating equipment,” Dr Coughlan explains.

It was first detected in the river Barrow in April, 2010. It has since spread to the river Nore, and has been discovered on the river Foyle and on the river Shannon where leisure craft can help its distribution.

Working with Queen’s University, Belfast, Coughlan’s UCC research examined invasive freshwater bivalves on the river Seine, upstream of Paris for a paper published in the journal Science of The Total Environment.

Improving biosecurity by thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting equipment – such as angling gear and boats - is the best way to prevent any further spread,” he says, as there has been no successful eradication programme in the world.

Biosecurity is required at some Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) events, but it is not mandatory in Ireland.

Since 2014, an EU regulation targets transportation, exchanging, keeping and releasing of “black-listed” invasive alien species, Dr Coughlan says.

Dr Coughlan says that although national campaigns such as “Check, Clean, Dry” promote best-practice biosecurity protocols, these techniques remain “underutilised, underfinanced, and data-deficient”.

He believes legislation is now required to underpin mandatory controls.

Read more in The Sunday Independent here

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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