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Don’t bring back an invader! Invasive Species Week appeal by Angling Trust to anglers fishing abroad


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Red swamp crayfish found in France

The Angling Trust is calling on globe-trotting anglers to minimise the risk of bringing unwanted invaders to Britain that could potentially damage fishing in rivers and lakes.

With fishing abroad becoming increasingly popular amongst UK anglers, the risk of inadvertently transporting invasive non-native species into Britain has increased.

And while studies show almost half of anglers fishing in the UK regularly carry out ‘Check, Clean, Dry’ procedures to help reduce the spread of invasive species, there’s no obligation in some other European countries to clean or dry equipment before leaving the fishery.

Research carried out by the Angling Trust at 34 fisheries in northern France showed that 20 lakes (59%) contained at least one invasive aquatic plant or invertebrate – including the Caspian slender mysid (Limnomysis benedeni), a “high alert” shrimp species not currently present in the UK. In addition, three different crayfish species and the highly aggressive top mouth gudgeon and black bullhead were also discovered.

Emily Smith, Angling Trust’s Invasive Species Manager, said: “Many of the fisheries surveyed required anglers to arrive with dry nets, or in some cases the fishery dipped the anglers’ equipment in disinfectant before they could start fishing. However, as there was no obligation to clean or dry the equipment upon leaving the lake, it raises concern as many aquatic invasive species have been shown to survive for over a fortnight on damp angling equipment.

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Water primrose, an invasive species, found in a French fishery

“With frequent ferry and Eurotunnel links between Europe and the UK, if fishing equipment and clothing are not thoroughly cleaned and dried following a trip abroad, invasive species could be inadvertently transported back into the UK and introduced into a British water body on the next fishing outing.

“We're asking anglers fishing abroad to follow the same procedures they should be carrying out in the UK – check, clean and dry equipment every time you fish.”

While this researched focused on fisheries in France, many other popular fishing destinations In Europe have invasive species of major biosecurity concern to the UK. In particular, there are at least 10 aquatic invasive species in the Netherlands, as well as the salmon louse (Gyrodactylus salaris) in Norway which is having a devastating impact on their salmon fisheries.

The appeal comes as Invasive Species Week seeks to raise awareness of the devastating impact non-native species, such as the Quagga Mussel and Killer Shrimp, can have on British plants, animals and ecosystems. As well as preying on, out-competing and displacing native wildlife, aquatic non-native species can spread disease and block waterways. Their presence can sometimes be so damaging it can lead to significant changes to the entire ecology of a water body.

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Emily Smith carrying out research at a lake in France

Recreational facilities, including angling, can suffer as a result of invasive species. Fish populations may reduce or change and invasive plants may restrict navigation through waterways, clog up propellers and add significantly to the management costs of our waterways.

Practising good biosecurity measures such as Check, Clean, Dry can help to stop the spread of invasive plants and animals from one water body to another. Animals, eggs, larvae and plant fragments are easily transported in or on equipment, shoes, clothing and other damp places and can survive for a long time. For example, a killer shrimp can survive in the moist fold of a wader for up to 15 days.

While the financial costs of invasive species can run into millions of pounds, the cost to the UK’s wildlife can be irreplaceable.

Mark Owen, Head of Freshwater for the Angling Trust, said:
“Emily’s research has highlighted the potential threat to fish and fishing on our doorstep. It is in every anglers’ interest to do all they can to prevent the spread of invasive species and follow the Check, Clean, Dry advice – even when fishing abroad.”

Useful links and notes:

Learn more about Check, Clean, Dry biosecurity
Invasive Species Week
runs from 27th March – 31st March 2017.
The Great Britain Non-Native Species Secretariat and Defra launched the first Invasive Species Week in 2015. It brings together a range of organisations and individuals to raise awareness of invasive non-native species and the damage they can cause.
Wildlife and Countryside Link (Link) brings together 46 organisations - including the Angling Trust - concerned with the conservation and protection of wildlife and the countryside. Members practise and advocate environmentally sensitive land management, and encourage respect for and enjoyment of natural landscapes and features, the historic and marine environment and biodiversity. Taken together, Link members have the support of over 8 million people in the UK and manage over 750,000 hectares of land.
The EU Regulation (1143/2014) on invasive alien (non-native) species entered into force on 1st January, 2015. The Regulation imposes restrictions on a list of species known as “species of Union concern”. These are species whose potential adverse impacts across the European Union are such that concerted action across Europe is required. This list is drawn up by the European Commission and managed with Member States using risk assessments and scientific evidence.     
Emily Smith'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.

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