#Crayfish - Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) says it welcomes new legislation to strengthen existing measures to protect the native white-clawed crayfish.
The European Union (Invasive Alien Species) (Freshwater Crayfish) Regulations 2018 will provide Irish authorities with powers to prevent the arrival and spread of five non-native species of crayfish included on the EU List of Invasive Alien Species of Union concern.
Ireland holds one of the largest surviving populations of the globally threatened white-clawed crayfish, a freshwater species protected under Irish law and the EU Habitats Directive.
The species has been decimated throughout Europe by the impact of crayfish plague — and many North American crayfish species are believes to be vectors for the disease.
While there is no evidence that any non-native crayfish have been introduced to Ireland, crayfish plague has now reached five rivers in Ireland, possibly by spores carried on angling equipment.
IFI says the prospect of the disease being controlled depends on the absence of non-native crayfish.
“We welcome this new legislation which is needed if we are to resist the threat from introduced crayfish,” says IFI chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne.
“If invasive alien crayfish were to be introduced in Ireland, this could have a devastating effect on the ecology of many of the lakes and rivers.
“We would urge the public to comply with the new regulations and help protect our native crayfish species. In particular, we would remind anglers to maintain vigilance in relation to the crayfish plague by carrying out routine cleaning and drying of equipment once leaving a river and before using it again.”
Sightings of unusual crayfish (eg red claws, large size) or any mass mortalities of crayfish can ve reported to the relevant authorities by contacting the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the National Biodiversity Data Centre or Inland Fisheries Ireland.