Catchment News

Your help is needed to save our White-clawed Crayfish from disease and invasive species

The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht’s National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) – along with The Marine Institute –  have  re-issued a warning to all water users in Ireland about the severe and increasing threat to our native Crayfish species.

Ireland holds one of the largest populations of the globally-endangered White-clawed Crayfish.

This threat comes from the twin impact of disease and invasive alien species, which have been identified as one of the five most important causes of biodiversity loss on a global scale and as an increasing negative driver in Ireland with a significant economic impact.

The NPWS and the Marine Institute have re-issued their call for the public to take responsible action and to follow guidelines under the Check-Clean-Dry protocols.

This warning comes after the confirmation this spring of Crayfish Plague on the River Maigue, upstream of Adare. It is predicted the disease will wipe out the crayfish from the river system.

Rivers with confirmed outbreaks (with year first detected)

  1. River Bruskey/Erne, Co Cavan. (2015).
  2. River Suir, Co Waterford and Tipperary. (2017)
  3. River Deel, Co Limerick (2017)
  4. River Barrow (2017). Crayfish Plague is now widespread in the main channel as far upstream as Monasterevin (detected 2018). A further area of infection is now confirmed (29/5/19) on the River Slate at Rathangan (not shown on map).
  5. Lorrha River, Co Tipperary (2017)
  6. River Al, Co Westmeath. (2018)
  7. River Clare, Co Galway (2019). This is based on testing of water samples.
  8. River Maigue, Co. Limerick (2019)

Biosecurity

Ideally do not enter rivers which are potentially contaminated but if you do, Check-clean-dry should be used to decontaminate wet equipment BEFORE using it again in another river. For more information see http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/projects/invasive-species/crayfish-plague/

Angle biosecurity information: http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/IFI_anglers-leaflet-1.pdf

Noat biosecurity information: http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/IFI_boaters-leaflet-1.pdf

Non-native crayfish

The NPWS has also been made aware of a stock of a non-native crayfish being held in an aquarium. The animals which were voluntarily handed over were Marbled Crayfish.  The keeping, selling and breeding of this species is banned under recent legislation.

The NPWS can also confirm that a population of a non-native crayfish species has been found for the first time in the wild in Ireland.

There has always been a concern that non-native crayfish species may become established in Ireland and this has now been confirmed by the discovery of a population of an Australian Crayfish, the Yabby, Cherax destructor. The site is not being disclosed at this time.

Brian Nelson, Invertebrate Ecologist with the Department’s National Parks and  Wildlife Service says

the discovery of the non-native crayfish species in the wild is of concern as this has never been found before in Ireland. Although the species is one we would not have predicted, it presents us with a greater challenge of eradicating the species.. We would like to emphasise the growing threat that alien invasive species are having on biodiversity in Ireland and globally and we urge everyone to think carefully and help in its prevention. For the most invasive species, there is now specific legislation in place which bans possession and keeping and gives the NPWS powers to seize specimens and eradicate them from the wild.”

The NPWS are reminding pet shops – and those with aquariums – that the keeping and importing of five of the most invasive species is now illegal. If anyone has specimens they should contact NPWS immediately.

More information:

Additional information on the Crayfish Plague outbreaks in Ireland including distribution maps see: www.biodiversityireland.ie/projects/invasive-species/crayfish-plague/

Report any suspected sightings

Any suspected sighting of a non-native crayfish species or of sightings of many dead or dying native White-clawed crayfish should be reported with photos if possible: https://records.biodiversityireland.ie/record/invasives

Who is involved?

Quite simply, everyone in Ireland has a role to play. This can be from something as simple as making sure you don’t pollute your local stream, or a local community working together to establish a Rivers Trust to enhance the rivers and lakes in their area, to a Government Department or Agency helping a Minister implement a new policy to help protect and enhance all our waterbodies.

This website has been developed and is maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency, and is a collaboration between the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Local Authority Waters and Communities Office.

LAWCO

Local Authority Waters Programme

The Local Authority Waters Programme coordinates the efforts of local authorities and other public bodies in the implementation of the River Basin Management Plan, and supports local community and stakeholder involvement in managing our natural waters, for everyone’s benefit.

EPA

Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA is responsible for coordinating the monitoring, assessment and reporting on the status of our 4,829 water bodies, looking at trends and changes, determining which waterbodies are at risk and what could be causing this, and drafting environmental objectives and measures for each.

DECLG

Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government

The Department is responsible for making sure that the right policies, regulations and resources are in place to implement the Water Framework Directive, and developing a River Basin Management Plan and Programme of Measures that will be implemented after public consultation and sign off by the Minister.