Tackling Non Natives

Invasive Non-Native Species Blog

By Mark Owen

As anglers we know the damage that INNS do to our waterways whether it is signal crayfish, killer shrimp, floating pennywort or bank side species like giant hogweed or himalayan balsam. Floating pennywort alone costs £23.5 million a year to control !

Floating Pennywort on the River Soar

Since its launch just over 5 years ago the Angling Trust has been campaigning on a number of fronts to get greater control over the damage that INNS do to the waterways in England whether it be in partnership with other environmental NGO’s in England, government departments or calling government to account through our political lobbying and increasingly we work at a European level through the European Anglers Alliance to influence decisions made in Brussels.

Signal Crayfish have caused huge problems since they were introduced to British waters

So have we achieved anything in all this time? Yes, we can emphatically say that we have. There have been 4 important milestones achieved this year as a result;

  • On the 6th April this year the government finally brought in to affect the ban on the sale of 5 aquatic plant; water fern, parrot’s feather, Australian swamp stone-crop, floating pennywort and water primrose. Together they cost the economy £1.75Bn to control and is a result of AT lobbying in partnership with the Blueprint for Water coalition
  • The Law Commission issued an interim report calling for the government to bring in Species Control Orders as they have in Scotland. This move is to fill a gap in the current legislation where if a land owner has an INNS on their land then government departments do not have the power to enter and eradicate. In the fish world we have the Illegal Fish Act which covers this but if someone is growing giant hogweed on a river bank there is no similar legislation to insist it be controlled. This reflects our evidence given at a meeting with the Law Commission with Fish Legal
  • This has been re-enforced by the powerful House of Commons, Environmental Audit Committee to which we gave verbal evidence in January. Their report headlines the need to change the law to control invasive species like killer shrimp and Asian Hornet and they highlight in their press release the dangers to angling.
  • Lastly we have been lobbying hard for legislation to come from Brussels so that Europe takes this seriously and I have made a number of trips there to lobby with the EAA in the European Parliament and the Commission. The UK is the recognised leader in tackling INNS even though we need to do far more as described above but the rest of Europe wallows in lack of action. Does this matter to us as an island? Yes, it does. Killer shrimp and zebra mussels come from Rumania & Bulgaria and have travelled from the Danube through canals and into the Rhine down to Holland. These aren’t the only ones, there are more to come; quagga mussels, black sea gobies and others are in Holland and other countries bordering the Rhine already making fishing a misery in some of these places – we really do not want them here. Just last month the European Parliament approved a new Regulation to come into effect in January 2015 which will make Member States take action. As ever Angling Trust will be involved every step of the way to make sure they do.
They don’t look very threatening, but the introduction of Quagga Mussels could alter our watercourses dramatically.
Mark Owen is the Angling Trust’s Head of Freshwater and campaigns tirelessly to protect the Uk from Invasive Non Natives

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