A Threat to Our Fisheries

How can we as coaches help the stop of Invasive Non Native Species? By John Blewitt

The simple answer is, on our own we can’t, but we can help to cut down on the spread. By following some simple routines, we can help to cut down on the risk of spreading these “beasties”.

Don’t use stink bags – always wash your nets in hot water and hang them on the washing line till dry. If you can afford to use the same net for the same waters then this will help to stem cross contamination from water course to water course. If you do dip the nets, please do it well and don’t forget anything that has been in contact with the water, yes anything – hook lengths, boots, wellingtons – everything that’s has been in the water.

If you catch any signal crayfish, kill them on site.

Japanese Knot Weed is prevalent on our river and the post-industrial rivers seem to be the worse. Anyone who has fished the South Yorkshire Don, Aire and the Calder will testify to that. Although it does not produce seeds, it can sprout from very small sections of rhizomes and, under the provisions made within the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to cause Japanese Knot Weed to grow in the wild. Much of its spread is probably via topsoil movement or construction traffic.

Himalayan Balsam looks very pretty but alas does a cause problem as the seeds can spread for about 50 metres.  The good news is that you can eradicate it by pulling up the stems before the buds burst. The plant is an annual – so go Balsam Bashing as a club and get rid of these plants.

Sturgeon seem to have appeared in some of our fisheries in the last decade, they are illegal and should not be there. If you are a fishery owner, please be responsible so the future of our sport is assured.

Here are lists of things that can be done by clubs and coaches to stem the spread of Invasive Non Native species, it was written by a Stuart Croft who is a well-known figure in international fishing.

Biosecurity for Angling Clubs, Associations and Syndicates
Here is a list of recommendations for you to consider that may help protect your fisheries from invasive, non-native species that can, and do, devastate fisheries.
• Make all your members aware of the Stop the Spread campaign based on the `Check, Clean, Dry`guidance.
• Check out the NNSS (non-native species secretariat) website at: www.nonnativespecies.org. Follow the links to see the latest news on the latest threats (such as killer shrimps). Also use this website to download and print off the Check, Clean, Dry posters that can be given to your members and be displayed at access points, car parking areas and fishing huts etc.
• If you have a club committee (or similar controlling group) appoint a Biosecurity Officer. Their role would be to monitor the threats regularly and keep up-to-date on the latest recommended biosecurity methods so you are always following “best practice” based on the latest sound science from the likes of the NNSS and EA (or SEPA in Scotland). Additionally, if you share a river system with other fishing clubs then they need to be contacted so you can all follow the same principles on biosecurity issues.
• If you have a club website then have a prominent link to the NNSS website so that members are reminded where important information can be found.
• If your club water is just on one still water or river system, encourage your members to have one set of waders, boots, nets, boat drogues etc. that are used only on your water and not taken to other venues.This in addition to habitually following the Clean, Check Dry guidance.
• If you have several waters on different river systems then insist that all members follow the Check, Clean, Dry guidelines when moving from one venue to the next.
• Where the Check, Clean, Dry guidelines cannot be followed fully (for instance due to the amount of time that it takes to completely dry items like waders, nets and boots) then wet waders, gravel guards, nets and boots etc. can be rinsed in a large bucket (or buckets if the kit will not fit in one) of hot tap water (45°C or over) and left to bathe for at least fifteen minutes. This should help ensure, at the very least, that any larger organisms like shrimps are killed.
• Members must be made responsible not just for their own biosecurity BUT that of their guests too.
• If day tickets are issued to non-members then some means must be put in place to check the waders, boots and nets etc. of visitors and if found not fully clean and dry then some kind of approved disinfection system should be used. Different options like the use of `Vikon S` can be discussed with your local EA (or SEPA) office, however at the moment there is no recommended disinfectant that can be used to destroy killer shrimps – hopefully this problem will be resolved soon.
• If you allow Fishing Guides, Instructors or Gillies to operate on your waters then you must insist that they follow all biosecurity measures and that they are made responsible the biosecurity for any clients they bring along (these could be new to the sport and not yet aware of the problems and issues caused by invasive non-native species).

Anglers like most groups, hate change but we must do so and lead by example if we are to protect our much-loved sport and the waters we fish. Hopefully, with time, biosecurity will just become part of the culture and be as common place as washing your hands before handling food or putting on a seat belt before driving.

Think carefully on what can be done, but doing nothing should not be an option.

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