The Dangers of Holiday Invaders !

Emily Smith, Angling Trust Invasive Non-Native Species Manager warns about brining back more than just a suntan from your next fishing holiday !

The summer is finally upon us, and for a lucky few this gives an opportunity for a few extra fishing trips and maybe even a trip abroad to pastures or rather waters new. Along with taking your rod and bait, the Angling Trust urges you to add disinfection to your fishing trip checklist. Why? To protect our waters from invasive species.

What are invasive non-native species?

Invasive non-native species are species that have been introduced outside of their native range as a result of human activity such in the hulls of ships, on the bottom of walking boots, or potentially caught in damp angling nets. They represent one of the greatest threats to our UK waters, and have had significant negative impacts on our freshwater habitats, introducing disease, outcompeting native species and covering the waters surface in thick plant mats. Consequently, invasive species can, and will, impact the quality of our fish and our fishing experience, with thick plant mats restricting swim access and American crayfish found to predate on stock and take bait.

The North American Signal Crayfish has had a devastating effect on some waters

Invasive species also have significant cost implications. For example, costs to manage floating pennywort have been estimated at around £2,000 per kilometre, amounting to a staggering total cost of £1.93 million if whole country eradication was attempted (Williams et al., 2010).  Moreover, even where management is undertaken, it is not always successful as once introduced into a river or lake invasive species can be hard to completely remove.  Therefore, preventing their initial introduction is the best approach to safeguard our water bodies from invasive species.

A sheep in a UK river clogged with floating pennywort Hydrocotyle ranunculoides (Credit: Trevor Renals, Environment Agency)

What can you do?

Check. Clean. Dry!

Working closely with the GB Non-native Species Secretariat and other organisations, the Angling Trust helped to produce the Check, Clean, Dry campaign which was launched in March 2011. This three-step approach provides an easy, yet effective approach to minimise the risk of unintentionally carrying a plant fragment, freshwater invertebrate or disease between waterbodies.

The three-step approach to disinfecting your nets and waders and other tackle.

Last summer research conducted by the Angling Trust found a high number of invasive species in French fishing lakes ( There are a further 10 invasive freshwater species in the Netherlands which pose a significant threat if they are introduced.

To prevent these species from being unintentionally introduced into the UK, we urge every angler to incorporate this quick disinfecting approach into his or her every day routine, whether fishing abroad, or at your local fishery. And spread the word!

Get in touch

Finally, this summer there will be posters being placed in the main ferry links between Europe and the UK to remind water users to clean their equipment after their visit. If you see these posters, then please get in touch to let us know that you’ve seen them and what you think.

Keep an eye out for these check clean dry posters whilst on your travels this summer (Credit GB NNSS)

If you are part of an angling club and would like to know more about how to protect your fishery then please drop us an email to Or if you have a story about how invasive species have affected you or work that you have done then let us know. It would to share experiences and stories to better manage these species.

Emily Smith, Angling Trust Invasive Non-Native Species Manager


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