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Anglers take action to halt spread of invasive species as Check, Clean, Dry campaign starts to hit home

04.03.16

NNSS_Image_1836 Signal Crayfish. Credit Trevor Renals x550px

The North American Signal Crayfish has had a devastating effect on some waters

More anglers are taking steps to stop the spread of ‘alien’ species which pose a threat to the UK’s fish stocks and aquatic environments.


Research conducted by the Angling Trust showed that almost half of anglers surveyed were now classed as ‘low risk’ – meaning they cleaned and dried equipment every time they returned from fishing – compared to just 21% five years ago.

However, one in five anglers still remain a ‘major risk’ to the spread of invasive non-native species after they admitted never following the ‘Check, Clean, Dry’ procedures, indicating that further campaigning was needed to make them aware of the potential threat.

The research was carried out by Emily Smith, the Angling Trust's Invasive Non-Native Species Manager while studying for her PhD at University College London (UCL) and included a survey of 680 anglers’ fishing habits. The aim of her thesis, titled ‘Conduits of Invasive Aquatic Species: The Angling Route’, was to investigate the risk of anglers inadvertently bringing invasive species to the UK from fishing trips in Europe.

Emily also manages the ‘Alien Attack’ project for the Trust made possible through partnership with the Environment Agency.

Emily Smith at Corfe April 2015-480px

Emily Smith; positive reaction to Check, Clean, Dry campaign

Initial findings showed that there was “substantial movement” of recreational anglers between UK and Europe with over 14% surveyed fishing in France and nearly 12% travelling to Ireland. Other popular European locations included Spain, Netherlands and Norway.

The findings co-incide with Invasives Week with organisations across Britain raising awareness of invastive non-native species and their threat to the environment and wildlife.

Since the Check, Clean, Dry campaign was launched five years ago, at least three new invasive aquatic species have been discovered in UK freshwater – the demon shrimp, quagga mussel and the Gulf wedge clam.

“In spite of all the good work being undertaken and the message getting across, this suggests our current biosecurity measures are not sufficient to stop new invasive species entering our waters,” said Emily. “There are a further 10 invasive aquatic species in the Netherlands which are not currently present in the UK which also pose a threat.”

NNSS_Image_1572 Floating Pennywort x400px

Floating pennywort; spreads rapidly and can disrupt fishing

In addition to the 46% of anglers who followed the Check, Clean, Dry advice every time they went fishing, a further 34% were classed as ‘minor’ or ‘moderate’ risk, meaning they cleaned and dried equipment at least once every 10 trips.

“These figures are encouraging because they show that anglers are already in the routine of doing something to prevent the spread,” said Emily. “There still needs greater clarity on carrying out cleaning of equipment, however, as only 33% of anglers used hot water which is now recommended.
 
“Overall, it presents an ideal opportunity to build on the successes of the Check, Clean, Dry campaign.”

Mark Owen, Head of Freshwater for the Angling Trust said: “It is in every anglers’ interest to do all they can to prevent the spread and follow the Check, Clean, Dry advice. The findings from Emily’s research will be extremely useful as we plan our next course of action in the war on invasive species.”

Check Clean Dry 5 years x550px

Notes:

The research included a questionnaire completed by 680 anglers between 8th July and 31st October 2015 and publicised through the Angling Trust, fishing forums, angling club magazines and social media. 98% of respondents were male. They covered a broad range of angling disciplines:
  • 47% coarse (excluding carp)
  • 28% game
  • 16% carp
  • 6% competition
  • 3% lure
Check, Clean, Dry – launched March, 2011 to prevent the spread of invasive non-native species in the UK. Advises water users to:
  • Check equipment and clothing for live plants and animals
  • Clean and wash all equipment, footwear and clothing thoroughly
  • Dry all equipment and clothing
Emily's post is funded as part of the London Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Doctoral training partnership, with the Angling Trust fulfilling the role of an 'industrial CASE partner'. In this arrangement Emily will gain work experience while undertaking her PhD. As part of her employment Emily has been managing the Trust's ‘Alien Attack’ Environment Agency contract.

Useful links:

Angling Trust guide to invasive species

GB Non-Native Species website


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