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)
- River Bruskey/Erne, Co Cavan. (2015).
- River Suir, Co Waterford and Tipperary. (2017)
- River Deel, Co Limerick (2017)
- 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).
- Lorrha River, Co Tipperary (2017)
- River Al, Co Westmeath. (2018)
- River Clare, Co Galway (2019). This is based on testing of water samples.
- River Maigue, Co. Limerick (2019)
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
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.
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