Check, Clean and Dry to halt the alien invasion of our waters

Aquatic life in Wales is under threat from invasive species and Natural Resources Wales is encouraging recreational users of the nation’s rivers, seas and waterways to play their part in helping tackle the spread of water-borne pests and diseases.

Ben Wilson, NRW’s Principal Fisheries Advisor, explained:

“Invasive plants and animals from all over the world have been accidently and deliberately introduced to Welsh waters over the years, causing serious environmental problems as well as preventing people from carrying out their water-related activity.
“This week (16 May -22) is Non-Native Species Week, an annual international event to raise awareness of the impacts of invasive non-native species and the simple things that everyone can do to prevent their spread.
“We are urging anglers, boaters and canoeists to carry out biosecurity and practice ‘Check, Clean and Dry’ techniques to help stop the spread of invasive non-native species by ensuring their tackle, clothes and craft are free from aquatic animals and plant life after use.”

 ‘Check, Clean and Dry’ Guidance states:

  • CHECK: Check your equipment, boat and clothing after leaving the water for mud, aquatic animals or plant material. Remove everything that you find and leave it at the site.
  • CLEAN: Clean everything thoroughly as soon as you can, paying attention to areas that are damp or hard to access. Use hot water if possible.
  • DRY: Dry everything for as long as you can before using elsewhere as some invasive animals and plants can survive for more than two weeks in damp conditions.

There are a number of ways  water users can find out more information and report any non-native species they come across; these include:

Ben added:

“This is a Wales-wide problem and the  species giving most cause for concern include killer shrimp and zebra mussels in Cardiff Bay; killer shrimp in Eglwys Nunydd reservoir at Port Talbot; topmouth gudgeon at several site in Llanelli and American lobster which has been spotted offshore near Pwllheli and Conwy.
“Invasive plants such as the New Zealand pygmyweed, which has been found at several Welsh locations, are also part of the problem.
“Eradicating these pests is both costly and difficult but we can help reduce their spread by
following the Check, Clean and Dry guidance.
“The simple act of transporting one plant or animal fragment to another area can have a devastating impact on our native species, which in turn can have an adverse effect on tourism, recreation and businesses which rely on the affected waters.
“Once a non-native species reaches a new location it can be difficult and sometimes impossible to eradicate so prevention really is the best way to protect our natural environment for generations to come.”