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Biosecurity Survey For Canoeists & Kayakers

18th November 2015

#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
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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