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Invasive Plants & Animals - Stopping The Spread

by the Fish Site Editor
29 March 2011, at 1:00am

SCOTLAND, UK - This week's anual Rivers & Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS) conference heard that progress is being made in combatting invasive non-native species all over Scotland - but that it will take decades to eradicate some species.

Chris Horrill of Rafts (Rivers & Fisheries Trusts of Scotland) told the conference that there are now 22 biosecurity plans in place, covering 85 per cent of Scotland. RAFTS staff have also ben called upon to help set up similar plans in Cumbria and Ireland. However, in the cae of some INNS (invasive non-native species) programmes of at least 10 - 15 years will be needed to approach anything like total eradication or even substantial control. This is particularly true of invasives such as American Signal Crayfish, and plants uch as Japanese knotweed. RAFTS plans to set up sequential projects, the future stages of which can be tied to habitat restoration and flood risk management programmes.

Alastair Fenn from the Deveron, Bogie & Isla Rivers Trust, described successful recruitment of volunteers to report sightings of mink, and to monitor mink survey rafts. This has been remarkably effective within the Deveron catchment, with over 100 mink trapped and humanely dispatched. However, mink (which originated from escapes & releases from fur farms many years ago, and have adapted very well to life in Scotland - much to the detriment of our native fish) remain a problem throughout much of the north and west of the country.

Nick Chisholm from the River Annan Trust spoke about the difficulties of eradicating INNS such as Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam. He stressed in particular he need to ensure that once such plants have been cut back or pulled out, they are not allowed to fall into the water, to be carried to new sites.

Overall, the message was that groups of enthusiastic volunteers are an essential component of any programme to eradicate or control INNS, and that anglers can play an important part in this.

the Fish Site Editor