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Displaying items by tag: invasive species

Waterways Ireland advises all users of sightings on the Royal Canal at Ashtown of a large invasive rodent species that is highly damaging to river, lake and canal banks.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the coypu — also known as the nutria in the United States — is regarded as a destructive invasive species and pest, posing a threat to agriculture, the stability of river banks and even coastal defences.

The coypu is an EU-regulated species of concern with trade, transport and reproduction restrictions in place (No.1143/2014).

The large river rats can also carry a number of serious diseases communicable to humans and domestic animals.

Waterways Ireland says coypu eradication programmes can cost up to several millions of euro and are not always successful.

Most recently there were sightings of the rodents in Cork city two years ago, after a number were trapped by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in a tributary of the River Lee.

But their presence across the country in the capital raises concerns about their further spread throughout Ireland’s inland waterways.

Waterways Ireland has provided a checklist for how to spot a coypu, which are often confused with common otters:

  • Large semi-aquatic rodent up to 1 meter in head to tail length. Features same in juveniles.
  • It can weigh 5-9kg.
  • It has webbed hind feet.
  • Dark fur often with lighter ends and has a white muzzle.
  • Has long cylindrical tail (not fur tail like otter) and small slightly protruding ears.
  • Distinctive features are large bright orange-yellow incisor (front) teeth usually visible.
  • Coypu are generally found near permanent water.

Do not attempt to engage, trap or harm these animals.

Waterways Ireland appeals for the public keep a lookout along the waterways and especially along the Royal Canal at Ashtown, and report sightings (with photos is possible) to any of the following:

For more information visit species.biodiversityireland.ie.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Cork residents near the River Lee are urged to be report any sightings of coypu after one of the large rodents was seen in Cork city last week.

The invasive species was released within the last two years in the Curraheen River, a tributary of the Lee, with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) trapping 10 of the large river rats since then, according to the Irish Examiner.

But the NPWS now seeks the public’s help in identifying how far beyond the Curraheen they might have spread, with possible sightings on the Cork-Bandon road, at Monkstown on Cork Harbour and in streams north of the city.

The situation is a far cry from two years ago, when fears of a coypu invasion of Ireland’s inland waterways were dismissed upon the news of a single three-foot rodent found in a Tipperary stream, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Also known as nutria in the United States, the rodents are regarded as a destructive invasive species and pest, posing a threat to the stability of river banks and even coastal defences.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Angling - Plans to introduce non-native fish species into Irish lakes have been alleged by Irish angling enthusiasts, as the Mayo News reported recently.

A social media post via the Irish Pike Society, which has since been removed, claimed that fishermen from the UK and Ireland were planning this month to introduce various non-native fish such as catfish and barbel into designated brown trout fisheries that include Lough Mask and Lough Conn.

Inland Fisheries Ireland confirmed they were aware of the claims and were monitoring the situation.

According to the Connacht Tribune, the allegation is the latest incident in an ongoing dispute between anglers who want to keep western loughs free of predatory fish like pike, and others who feel undue preference is given to salmon and trout.

Published in Angling
Tagged under

Five years ago the Department of Transport told the United Nations agency dealing with safety at sea and the marine environment that it was preparing to ratify a treaty drawn up by the UN intended to control the spread of invasive marine species which could cause damage in Irish waters, possibly wiping out native marine species and causing damage to the marine environment generally.
Five years later, while 51 nations around the world have signed the Ballast Water Management Convention drawn up by the International Maritime Organisation, Ireland still hasn’t done so, despite a request from the Secretary General of the Organisation.
The treaty is designed to counter the threat to marine ecosystems caused by potentially invasive species carried across the oceans of the world in ships’ ballast water. Ballast water is essential to the safe and efficient operation of modern shipping, providing balance and stability to unladen and partly laden ships. Because shipping transports up to 90 per cent of the world’s traded commodities, it is reckoned to transfer up to 5 billion tonnes of ballast water around ports of the world every year and that is claimed by scientists to be the main cause of introducing non-native species from one country to another.
When Peru, this month, became the 51st State to accede to the Treaty to try to control this problem, I asked the International Maritime Organisation if Ireland had ratified…


“Not yet” I was told from IMO Headquarters in London, with the additional quote from their spokesperson… “but it is apparently intending to … Well that is what Ireland said in 2011” and they sent me a copy of Marine Notice No.47 of 2011 from the Department of Transport which stated that “Ireland’s maritime administration is at present preparing the legislation that is required and intends to ratify the Convention when this process is complete…”
Five years later, the IMO suggested to me that it might be worth asking why Ireland had not signed… I did and the Department told me…that “provision to give effect to the Convention was made in the Sea Pollution Miscellaneous Provisions Act of 2006. Now that’s ten years ago, but it seems a Statutory Instrument has been drafted by the Department to give effect to the Convention in Irish law. However, subject to some legal clarifications the Department expects that the Order will be enacted only …” shortly after the Convention comes into force…”

zebra mussel boat

Zebra mussels on the hull of a boat

Thereby hangs the rub…This treaty has actually been hanging around since 2004, that’s 12 years ago, even as the problems of invasive species increased with specific threats identified in Ireland by Government task forces, to freshwater river systems, lakes and coastal areas. To come into effect it needs a minimum of 30 States to approve it which would represent 35 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage. 51 States have done so but they represent only 44.87 per cent of tonnage. Ireland’s access would only add .02 per cent tonnage, but the Secretary General of the IMO has appealed to every nation to support the Convention… so why is Ireland delaying, saying that it won’t sign until the Convention comes into force… in other words waiting for other nations to support it while Ireland won’t?
Senator Grace O’Sullivan is the Green Party’s spokesperson on the environment and says Ireland could push the treaty along if the Government would sign it, while Richie Flynn, Executive of IFA Aquaculture on behalf of fish farmers, isn’t surprised by the failure to sign, but it doesn’t please him.
Hear their views and the Podcast above.

Published in Island Nation

#Angling - Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has published its report on the Asian clam survey at Lanesborough, Co Longford and the surrounding area, which has found that complete removal of the invasive species "is not feasible".

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, IFI said it was working closely with all relevant agencies as well as local community and angling groups to re-open the popular fishery after last month's invasive species scare.

All stakeholders have now been briefed with IFI's report and recommendations and management actions will be considered over the coming weeks.

IFI says an "enormous amount of work has taken place over a short period of time.

"It is clear from the findings of the survey that the population of Asian clam has already reached a stage where complete removal is not feasible."

It's expected that disinfection kits will be commissioned in the coming week to halt any further spread of Asian clam from the Lanesborough fishery.

Fishing is then set to resume thereafter, but anglers are reminded that fishing will remain closed until an official announcement from IFI.

The full report on the Lanesbourough Asian clam situation is available as a PDF to read or to download HERE.

Published in Angling

#InvasiveSpecies - The invasive Japanese sea squirt - also known as 'marine vomit' - is spreading extensively in the south of Galway Bay, a marine scientist tells The Irish Times.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Japanese sea squirt (Didemnum vexillum) spreads like a blanket across the seabed and other surfaces, smothering shellfish and other marine life in the process.

It is often transported over large distances on boat hulls and fishing equipment.

Two years ago signs of the highly damaging species were detected in Strangford Lough, following work in North Wales to prevent its spread into the lucrative shellfish waters of the Menai Strait.

Sea squirts were first detected in small amounts in Galway Bay seven years ago, says marine biologist Dr Julia Nunn.

But their present abundance at the shore near Ballindereeen in Co Galway could pose a threat to shellfish farming and spawning beds or scallops and herring in the area.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

In related news, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) joined Canoeing Ireland to launch invasive species disinfection guidelines for paddle sports enthusiasts like canoeists and kayakers.

IFI says paddle sports watercraft and associated equipment are known to facilitate the introduction and spread of environmentally damaging invasive species like Asian clam and fish pathogens such as salmon fluke (which has not yet been recorded in Ireland).

These may be carried from one water body to another as hull-fouling organisms in bilge water, or entangled in equipment exposed to the water.

The complete guidelines are available to download HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#InvasiveSpecies - When invasive aquatic species become established, they cause significant damage to freshwater ecosystems, fish populations and to the economies that depend upon them.

Next to habitat loss, invasive species are considered the greatest threat to native biodiversity. Anglers play a vital role in protecting the native and unique fish stocks and waterways on the island of Ireland.

Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Institute of Technology Sligo are looking for anglers to take a short online questionnaire on angling and invasive species.

The questionnaire should take no more than 8 minutes and can be completed anonymously. Your views would be greatly appreciated.

Published in Angling
Tagged under

#Angling - From today 1 June, Northern Ireland's anglers are banned from selling salmon caught in rivers under new measures from the Legislative Assembly.

As BBC News reports, Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure Carál Ní Chuilín said that the new rules are "the first step in a series of conservation measures aimed at protecting stocks of the iconic Atlantic salmon".

The rod and line catch sale ban is intended to encourage the practice of 'catch and release' which is set to become mandatory next year, and also brings NI legislation into line with the rest of Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

It comes months after the shocking news that just three out of every 100 wild salmon returned to Northern Ireland's rivers in 2011, prompting concerns that the species has declined to "Dodo levels".

Moves have already been made to control the commercial offshore netting of salmon in order to boost their numbers in the North's waterways.

Another threat to salmon numbers is the rise of invasive species in Northern Ireland's waterways, which as the News Letter reports have cost the economy more than £46 million a year, according to Environment Minister Alex Attwood.

Highlighting the risk to NI's marine wildlife and plantlife, as well as fisheries and agriculture, the minister said "increasing awareness of the threat of invasive species and the need to tackle them is key to achieving success".

A new strategy by the Legislative Assembly will involve partnerships between government, the community and environment groups "working in tandem" to deal with the problems caused by invasive species such as the Japanese sea squirt, detected in Strangford Lough last year.

Published in Angling

#Angling - Minister Fergus O'Dowd launched Ireland’s first purpose-built disinfection station for angling enthusiasts at Ballyhoe Lake in Co Cavan on Wednesday 3 April.

The new facility - developed by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) in co-operation with Interreg IVA (CIRB), the Irish Angling Development Alliance (IADA) and the local Meathhill Angling Club - will facilitate the disinfection of angling equipment on entry to the lake, helping to ensure that unwanted alien invasive species and harmful fish pathogens can be kept out of our natural fisheries.

Moreover, the development will also provide a template for further such facilities on fishery watercourses throughout the country.

The disinfection station is located at the entrance to Ballyhoe Lake, a prime Irish specimen tench fishery.

The entrance gate and the disinfection station are secured with combination locks, the numbers for which are available through nominated members of the Meathhill Angling Club (contact numbers for these members are provided on the tank). Members of the club will replace the disinfectant and manage the facility locally, as necessary.

Once opened, the tank contains a disinfection container for boots, keep nets, landing nets and stink bags. Disposable gloves are provided for angler use while disinfecting, and a brush is available to scrub boots, as well as a spray bottle for boats coming onto the lake.

Signage adjacent to and underneath the lid of the tank provides step-by-step instructions for the angler. Once the gear has been disinfected, the anglers apply a tag to his or her net to show that the process has been completed. Different colour tags will be utilised at the discretion of the operators.

Congratulating Meathhill Angling Club and the IADA at the launch, Minister O'Dowd said: "Angling clubs and federations the length and breadth of Ireland are key to the protection of our angling resources. By providing facilities such as this, we are adding to the goodwill and community commitment of Meathhill Angling Club to protect their fishery, while also ensuring access to it.

"This access helps to safeguard the sustainability of our valuable resource which will continue to bring much needed revenue to the local community through responsible angling activity."

The minister added that he "can’t emphasise enough the role anglers and clubs have on the frontline in the fight against invasive species, which supplements the great work in the area carried out by IFI with the support of representative bodies such as IADA."

Published in Angling

#InvasiveSpecies - Dr Joe Caffrey of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) presented Ireland’s position on the threat of invasive alien species to Ireland's waterways at a high-level debate at the European Parliament in Brussels on 21 February last. 

Discussions centred on the issue of invasive alien species in Europe and the development of an EU policy instrument to tackle the threats.

The debate, titled ’Biodiversity’s Ticking Time Bomb: Understanding and Addressing the Problem of Invasive Species in Europe’, was organised via the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Birdlife, with the support of the European Habitats Forum.

Dr Caffrey was one of nine speakers who presented to the large gathering where he addressed the theme ‘The challenges and opportunities of member states in implementing EU legal measures: the example of Ireland’.

The talks were followed by a highly interactive panel discussion during which the pros and cons of a dedicated EU legislative instrument on invasive alien marine species were debated. The results of EU deliberations on this theme will emerge in the coming months when a consultation document will be released.

In the meantime, IFI and EIFAAC will host the FINS (Freshwater Invasives – Networking for Strategy) Conference in Galway on 9-11 April which will address key topics relating to freshwater invasive species and harmful aquatic pathogens.   

The conference is attracting a large international audience of policy makers in this area. The primary objective of the conference is to provide a forum where international scientists, policy makers and stakeholders will address designated themes with a view to informing management and policy development in this increasingly important area.

Minister Fergus O'Dowd, who recently launched the world's first angling kit to combat invasive species, said of the conference: “Invasive species cause some €12.5 billion worth of damage each year in the European Union alone and are a serious threat to native biodiversity across the continent. IFI is keenly aware of the threat to our own natural resources, particularly to our economy, health and recreational activities.

“I want to congratulate IFI on the lead it has taken in its scientific, practical and proactive approach to this issue, working with stakeholders on the front line to ensure that biosecurity awareness is paramount. They are also bringing Ireland’s first-hand experience to Europe and adding to the positive debate on an EU wide cooperative framework to safeguard our natural resources through legislation and knowledge transfer."

The FINS conference will be held at the Galway Bay Hotel and Conference Centre in Salthill, Galway, Ireland from 9-11 April 2013. For more details visit the FINS Conference website.

Published in Inland Waterways
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