Non-native Species

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 5th February 2015.

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Photo of The Earl of Shrewsbury The Earl of Shrewsbury Conservative

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to control and eradicate invasive species in and around watercourses such as Himalayan balsam, non-native crayfish, American mink and quagga mussels.

Photo of Lord de Mauley Lord de Mauley The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The GB Non-Native Species Strategy sets out a three pronged approach to dealing with invasive non-native species (INNS): horizon scanning and prevention; rapid response and eradication; and long term control. The Government has undertaken a variety of measures in line with the strategy, which is currently being revised and updated. The implementation of the strategy is overseen by a programme board, chaired by Defra, which includes the Environment Agency. The board regularly considers action to tackle specific species, including those in and around watercourses.

In 2011 Defra launched two campaigns to raise awareness of the risks posed by INNS and to prevent their spread: Be Plant Wise and Check, Clean, Dry. Defra is working closely with the Environment Agency to implement strategic plans and promote the Check, Clean, Dry message, in particular to prevent the spread of the quagga mussel, which arrived in England in October 2014. The Environment Agency is also continuing to monitor water bodies for quagga mussels and to work with water companies and watersports organisations to prevent the further spread, where possible.

The Check, Clean, Dry message is equally applicable to efforts to control the spread of non-native crayfish. Defra has also been funding the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas) to develop a trapping methodology to help remove crayfish from waterways. Cefas has been examining how best to capture both adult and juvenile non-native crayfish and where best to locate the traps within a water body to improve trapping success. Its report is due for submission to Defra in March 2015 and will be used to produce best practice guidelines for trapping non-native crayfish.

In addition, between 2011 and 2015, Defra has provided funding to help set up and establish local action groups (LAGs) throughout England, to tackle invasive non-native species that can impact on the aquatic realm, including non-native crayfish, Himalayan balsam and American mink. LAGs have undertaken a range of activities, including the cutting and treatment of Himalyan balsam; the use of mink rafts to capture American mink; and crayfish traps to capture non-native crayfish. LAGs have been a driving force in promoting biosecurity messages and have also undertaken horizon scanning for INNS, which are likely to arrive in local areas.

The Defra-funded trial release of a rust fungus to control the growth and spread of Himalayan balsam was carried out during 2014 and this work continues to be monitored to assess impacts.

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