The Angling Trust and research body CEFAS have announced trials to find ways of reducing the impact of signal crayfish - which have invaded rivers including the Thames.

CEFAS (the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science) and the trust have joined forces to try and find the most effective way of reducing numbers and their impact on aquatic wildlife.

The Defra-funded project is supported by volunteers from angling clubs and others with an interest in the conservation of rivers, lakes and canals. They will be supported by CEFAS scientists who will analyse the results of the study.

Signal crayfish have been rapidly invading waterways since the 1970s, attacking fish, fish eggs, invertebrates, and burrowing into banks causing them to collapse. They are the biggest threat to the native white clawed crayfish and can pass on the deadly crayfish plague that they carry but against which our native species have no immunity.

Environment Minister Lord de Mauley said: “Signal crayfish are damaging our native aquatic life and eroding our riverbanks, but with volunteers and scientists working together, we will be able to identify the most effective ways of reducing the destruction they are causing to our waterways.”

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust, said: “One of the most common issues our members contact us about is that of non-native crayfish invading rivers, lakes and canals. They are known to damage fish stocks by eating eggs and young fish, and they can make many fishing techniques impossible because as soon as the bait hits the bottom it is grabbed by a crayfish claw."

Story dated Nov 25th 2013

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