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Displaying items by tag: biosecurity

Fishery officers from the Loughs Agency recently observed zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) near Victoria Lock at the Newry Canal.

Zebra mussels are an invasive non-native Species (INNS), meaning they have been transported outside of their natural geographic range only to proliferate in their new environment, contributing to habitat loss, species extinction, ecosystem impacts, risks to human health and economic impacts.

Multiple specimens from a range of age classes were observed in the Newry Canal during low water conditions at the end of the summer. The presence of several age classes suggests an established, spawning population, the Loughs Agency says.

Zebra mussels were first recorded in Ireland in 1997 on the lower part of the navigable Shannon system, although it is believed that the species may have actually arrived years earlier. They were first reported in Northern Ireland in 1998 at Lower Lough Erne and, by 2010, a confirmed spawning population was present in Lough Neagh.

Although zebra mussels are now widespread across the island of Ireland, they still present a number of significant ecological, social and commercial threats to native systems. The introduction of this invasive species can lead to unprecedented ecological changes, which occur as a result of zebra mussel settlement, filter feeding and excretion. The combination of these factors has the potential to significantly alter native ecosystems.

Social and commercial factors associated with zebra mussel invasions involve the detrimental effects of mussel ‘biofouling’ on man-made structures such as recreational and commercial watercraft, water intake and cooling systems on industrial plants, jetties and pontoons.

Other economic issues arise from the potential loss of income or employment as a result of the negative ecological impacts, which includes a reduction in the density of an economically valuable species. These impacts all have financial implications in terms of management, mitigation and prevention.

Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon said: “Invasive species have arrived and are continuing to arrive across the island of Ireland through a variety of vectors, almost universally caused by human actions. Therefore, it is imperative that preventative measures are taken to avoid further spread and introductions.

“It is the responsibility of all water users to ensure that invasive non-native species are not transferred between water bodies. Do not introduce zebra mussels to any new sites and all sightings of the species should be reported. Avoid fouling of boats and equipment, and ensure everything is clean before moving to any new waterbodies. In addition, do not move ballast water between waterbodies.“”

Invasive Species Northern Ireland recommends the ‘Check Clean Dry’ approach for best practice in biosecurity on Ireland’s waterways. For further details on INNS found within the Foyle and Carlingford catchments, visit the Loughs Agency website.

Published in Angling

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

Published in Marine Science

There’s still time to make submissions in the public consultation on two Pathway Action Plans for the control of invasive species on Ireland’s waterways.

According to the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s Invasives.ie programme, the purpose of Pathway Action Plans (PAPs) is to raise public awareness as well as to set out actions to prevent unintentional introductions by minimising the contamination of goods, commodities, vehicles and equipment by invasive species, and ensuring appropriate checks at EU borders.

Currently two PAPs related to Ireland’s coastal areas and waterways are under development, one for angling and the other for recreational boating and watercraft.

Both plans aim to survey stakeholders on awareness of biosecurity measures, and engage on what actions can be employed to enhance protections against the spread of invasive species here.

In particular, the PAP for angling emphasises the promotion of ‘Check, Clean, Dry’ principles to control the cross-contamination of water sources.

And the PAP for recreational boating calls for boatyards and marinas to invest in the appropriate facilities to contain the runoff from wash-down procedures, especially when removing anti-foul.

Both draft plans can be downloaded from the Invasives.ie website. Comments on the PAPs must be submitted before Tuesday 1 February through the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage’s dedicated consultation email address at [email protected]

Published in Irish Marinas

#Crayfish - Large numbers of dead freshwater crayfish have been reported in the River Barrow in the stretch from Carlow to Graiguemanagh.

It has been confirmed using DNA analysis that the cause of death was crayfish plague.

This is the fifth outbreak of the disease to be found in Ireland in the last two years, and follows just weeks after an outbreak in North Tipperary.

It is feared that if the disease spreads further, then it will threaten the survival of the entire Irish population of white-clawed crayfish, an endangered marine species.

This worrying situation is being investigated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Marine Institute.

All the agencies involved in managing and protecting the rivers in Ireland are concerned that another outbreak has been detected, and are reiterating their advice and guidance to all users of the river to implement routine cleaning and drying of their equipment once they leave the river and before using it again.

This is especially important as it is known that the crayfish plague organism can be carried on wet equipment to new sites. Containment of the outbreak is essential to prevent spread to other as yet unaffected populations in Ireland.

Waterways Ireland, which manages the Barrow navigation, has issued a marine notice calling all recreational, commercial, private and public body water users (boaters, walkers, swimmers, kayakers, rowers, machine operators, etc) to operate a temporary ban on moving watersport and angling equipment and other equipment or machinery that comes in contact with the water, out of or into the Barrow and all affected catchments.

People are also asked to alert the authorities of any mass mortality of crayfish or sightings of unusual crayfish that might be non-native species (such as crayfish with red claws, or of an unusually large size).

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Crayfish - All water users are being urged to take precautions to stop the spread of crayfish plague after confirmation of an outbreak on the Lorrha River in North Tipperary, close to Lough Derg and the River Shannon.

Numbers of dead freshwater crayfish were reported on the river in Lorrha village earlier this month, and DNA analysis has now confirmed that the cause of death was crayfish plague.

This is the fourth confirmed outbreak of crayfish plague since 2015, with earlier outbreaks affected the Bruskey/Erne River in Co Cavan, the River Suir downstream of Clonmel and the River Deel downstream of Newcastle West.

The situation is being investigated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), the Marine Institute, and Tipperary County Council.

The kill has impacted white-clawed crayfish only. Other freshwater animals are not affected. This is a characteristic feature of the disease which only infects species of crayfish but causes 100% mortality.

There is no indication at this stage of how the disease reached the Lorrha River. It is however known that the outbreak on the Suir involved a different strain of the disease to that in the Cavan outbreak.

Samples from the Lorrha River are being tested to determine which strain has caused the outbreak of the disease.

All agencies involved in managing and protecting the rivers in Ireland have expressed concern that another outbreak has been detected, and are reiterating their advice and guidance to all users of the river to implement routine cleaning and drying of their equipment once they leave the river and before using it again.

This is especially important as it is known that the crayfish plague organism can be carried on wet equipment to new sites. Containment of the outbreak is essential to prevent spread to other as yet unaffected populations in Ireland.

Anyone using the river is being urged to observe the Check, Clean and Dry protocol. All wet gear should be checked for any silt or mud, plant material or animals. It then should be cleaned and finally dried. Disinfectant or hot water (over 60C) should be used to clean all equipment followed by a 24-hour drying period. This should be adopted as standard practice in all freshwaters.

Drying is especially important, including removing of any water from inside a boat and disposing of it on grass. A drying period of at least 24 hours is needed to ensure that a boat is clear of infectious organisms.

Furthermore, all water users are asked to operate a temporary ban on moving watersport and angling equipment out of the River Suir and River Deel catchments, commencing immediately.

Watersport and angling equipment currently in use in the Suir and Deel catchments may continue to be used there, but boats, angling or water sports equipment should not be transferred in or out of the catchments.

Users are requested to limit their activity to the river sections where they normally operate, and avoid moving around the catchment. More advice is available from Biodiversity Ireland.

People are also asked to alert the authorities of any mass mortality of crayfish or sightings of unusual crayfish that might be non-native species (eg crayfish with red claws, large size).

The white-clawed crayfish is a globally threatened species and Ireland holds one of the largest surviving populations. It is the only freshwater crayfish species found in Ireland and is present in lakes, rivers and streams over much of the island.

Throughout its European range, this species has been decimated by the impact of crayfish plague, which spread to Europe with the introduction of North American species of crayfish. Until 2015, Ireland was considered free of the disease and it remains the only European country without any established non-native crayfish species.

Many American crayfish species are resistant to crayfish plague, but can act as carriers of the disease, which is rapidly fatal when passed to the white-clawed crayfish.

The combined impact of the introduced crayfish species (which may out-compete the smaller native crayfish) and crayfish plague have completely eliminated the white-clawed Crayfish from much of its European range, leaving Ireland as the last stronghold of the species.

The species is protected under Irish Law and the EU Habitats Directive. It is illegal to deliberately release any non-native species of crayfish into Irish freshwaters.

If crayfish plague becomes established, there is a high probability that the white-clawed crayfish will be eliminated from much of the island. What’s more, if non-native crayfish are found to be established in Ireland, this could have a severe impact on habitats (eg destabilising canal and river banks by burrowing) and other freshwater species, such as salmon and trout fisheries.

However, there is no evidence to date that non-native freshwater crayfish have been introduced to Ireland.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Canoeing - A new survey that aims to gather information on the current level of awareness of invasive species and their negative impacts among canoeing, kayaking and other paddle sports enthusiasts was launched earlier this week.

The survey is being co-ordinated by Ronan Cooney, a scientist and avid paddler, and Dr Joe Caffrey in conjunction with Inland Fisheries Ireland and Canoeing Ireland.

Many invasive species can survive for long periods out of water, in damp conditions, and can easily be transferred from one watercourse to another as paddlers move around the country.

In Europe it is estimated that 7% of invasive species were introduced by leisure activities (hiking, angling, boating, SCUBA diving and rowing), with the aquaculture (24%), fisheries interests (11%) and the ornamental plant sectors (10%) being the major vectors.

“Invasive species are regarded as being the second greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat destruction," says Dr Caffrey. "These invasive species can be seriously harmful to biodiversity and to ecosystem services in the country. The latter are estimated to be worth over €250 million per annum to Ireland.”

The risk posed to angling and waterways in general by invasive species is very significant. Angling in Ireland is estimated to be worth €755 million to the Irish economy. But a report published in 2013 estimates the cost of invasive species to the tourism and recreation sector to be in the region of €10 million. This sector employs 180,000 people and is worth €5 billion to the Irish economy.

Inland Fisheries Ireland and Canoeing Ireland, the national governing body of paddle sports in Ireland, have been collaborating proactively to reduce the potential spread of invasive species through paddle sports by producing guidelines for the disinfection of paddle sport equipment, the provision of wash-down facilities at major events, and workshops on raising awareness of invasive species.

It is recognised that recreational water users have the potential to be a vector for the spread of invasive species. According to a recent publication in the UK, the potential threat posed by canoeists and anglers for the spread of invasive species is growing.

As an example, some 78.5% of canoeists and 64% of anglers used their equipment in more than one watercourse within a fortnight, meaning that the potential for spread of these species on damp clothing or paddling equipment is high.

The data provided from the survey "will lead to the development of more effective operational practices and behaviours among paddlers and organising bodies, while also making water users aware of the potential negative effects that their activities could have on Irish aquatic ecosystems," says Dr Caffrey.

Dr Kieran McKevitt of Canoeing Ireland adds: “The survey will help us see how our work has improved awareness of invasive species since we started our collaboration with IFI over two years ago and see how paddlers have changed their habits in relation to gear and boat washing."

The survey can be found HERE. For more information on invasive species, visit the Inland Fisheries Ireland website. For more on the survey contact [email protected]

Published in Canoeing

#ANGLING - The Irish Angling Development Alliance (IADA) is running a series of biosecurity awareness evenings at venues across Ireland over the next two months.

The evenings follow from the "success" of the IADA's awareness section at the recent Ireland Angling Show, and will provide an opportunity for more people to "meet with experts in the field and see what invasive species are first-hand".

Three events, in association with Inland Fisheries Ireland, are scheduled:

  • 27 March at the Wetlands Centre, Ballybay, Co Monagahan (hosted by the Ballybay Angling Association)
  • 18 April at the Cavan Crystal Hotel, Cavan (hosted by the Cavan Anglers Club)
  • 23 May at the Salthill Hotel in Salthill, Galway (hosted by the Galway CAC)

All events run from 7:30pm till 9pm. Admission is free and all are welcome.

For more information contact Peter Walsh at [email protected]

Published in Angling

Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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