Inland Fisheries Ireland in partnership with Canoeing Ireland are surveying the Irish paddling community to measure the awareness of invasive species amongst Irish paddlers.

The survey can be found here [idz_button color=”blue” size=”small” link=”″ target=”_blank” class=”” type=”square”]Invasive Species Survey[/idz_button]

Invasive ALIEN Species in Ireland Cost State Quarter Billion Annually

Invasive alien species are estimated to cost the island of Ireland approximately €262 million per annum.  Between Ireland and the United Kingdom approximately €2.5 billion a year is spent mitigating the damage caused by these harmful non-native species. Among their ranks are included Japanese Knotweed, which threatens our houses and hard infrastructure, and Zebra mussel, which infests most of our lakes and rivers.

Speaking about the effects of invasive species on the environment, Dr. Joe Caffrey (invasive species expert with INVAS Biosecurity Ltd. and Inland Fisheries Ireland senior research associate) says “Invasive species are regarded as being the second greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat destruction. These invasive species can be seriously harmful to biodiversity and to ecosystem services in the country. The latter are estimated to be worth over a quarter of a billion Euros per annum to Ireland”.

In Europe it is estimated that 7% of invasive species were introduced by leisure activities (hiking, anglers, boating, SCUBA diving and rowing). With the aquaculture (24%), fisheries interests (11%) and the ornamental plant sectors (10%) being the major vectors.

The risk posed to angling and waterways in general by invasive species is very significant. Angling in Ireland is estimated to be worth €755,000,000 to the Irish economy. A report published in 2013 estimates the cost of invasive species to the tourism and recreation sector to be in the region of €10 million. This sector employs 180,000 people and is worth €5 billion to the Irish economy.

Inland Fisheries Ireland and Canoeing Ireland, the national governing body of paddlesports in Ireland, have been collaborating proactively to reduce the potential spread of invasive species through paddlesports by producing guidelines for the disinfection of paddlesport equipment, the provision of wash down facilities at major events, and workshops on raising awareness of invasive species.

It is recognised that recreational water users have the potential to be a vector for the spread of invasive species. According to a recent publication in the UK, the potential threat posed by canoeists and anglers for the spread of invasive species is growing. As an example, some 78.5% of canoeists and 64% of anglers used their equipment in more than one watercourse within a fortnight, meaning that the potential for spread of these species on damp clothing or paddling equipment is high.

A new survey that aims to gather information on the current level of awareness of invasive species, specifically amongst paddle sports enthusiasts, is to be launched next week. The survey is being co-ordinated by Ronan Cooney, a scientist and paddler, and Dr Caffrey, in conjunction with Inland Fisheries Ireland and Canoeing Ireland. Mr Cooney explained that paddlers can inadvertently spread damaging invasive species while canoeing or kayaking on our watercourses. Many invasive species can survive for long periods out of water, in damp conditions, and can easily be transferred from one watercourse to another as paddlers move around the country. Speaking ahead of the launch, Mr Cooney urged as many paddlers as possible to complete the short questionnaire in order that we can better understand their awareness levels of these invasive species and their compliance with existing biosecurity or prevention measures. “By raising awareness of the threats posed by invasive species and by implementing simple cleaning/disinfection procedures, the state could be spared significant expenditure and our unique biodiversity could be protected”, stated Mr Cooney.

This important survey will be launched on Monday 16th November and is open to anyone who is involved with or participates in paddle sports in both the Republic and Northern Ireland.

“The data provided from the survey will lead to development of more effective operational practices and behaviours among paddlers and organising bodies, while also making them aware of the potential negative effects that their activities could have on Irish aquatic ecosystems”, Dr. Caffrey continued.

“The survey will help us see how our work has improved awareness of invasive species since we started our collaboration with IFI over two years ago and see how paddlers have changed their habits in relation to gear and boat washing” Dr Kieran McKevitt (Access and Environment Officer, of the Training and Development Unit of Canoeing Ireland).

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