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Invasive Non Native Species

British Canoeing’s Charter will not only have a clear vision for access but also outline our commitment to protecting the environment.

We are pledging to improve the health of our rivers and to work to protect, preserve and enhance the natural environment.

British Canoeing will work with conservation and navigational organisations to control and monitor harmful invasive non native plant and animal species which have been introduced into our waterways.

Expand What are their impacts?

What are their impacts?

These alien species detrimentally impact our native species as well as having a massive impact on our waterways where you may well wish to paddle. Several plant species have caused a major headache to navigation authorities who have to spend £millions per year in clearing these plants that are able to totally block river, lake and canal systems and prevent the commercial and recreational use of these waters.

Still today people bring in to the country alien species of plants and animals without due consideration what their impact can be. Even within England, we can unwittingly transfer species from one area to another. The very nature of canoeing is that the craft if highly transportable and can go from one water course to another and one country to another.

Expand What can I do as a paddler to help?

What can I do as a paddler to help?

Regardless of the type of canoeing you do, whether competitive or recreational, inland or coastal, the chances are is that you take your canoe/kayak on to different watercourses where there is a chance you may come in contact with these harmful species.

As a paddler, you have a vital part to play in stopping the spread of alien species.

Expand Stop the spread

Stop the spread

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1. Check you're not carrying living organisms 

  • Check your equipment and clothing for living organisms.
  • Your equipment - pay particular attention to areas that are damp and hard to inspect such as the bow and stern of the boat, under the seats and rims and behind buoyancy bags and foot rests.
  • Your clothing- check folds of cagoules, buoyancy aids, spray-decks, throw-lines, and the clothes you wear under your cagoules .

2. Clean all equipment, clothing and shoes

  • Clean and wash all equipment, footwear and clothes thoroughly
  • If you do come across any organisms, leave them at the water body where you found them. Do not take them home. If they are notifiable - Report It!
  • Use tap water to clean you boat. In times of drought you will have to do this by watering cans and buckets. Take water with you and plan ahead!

3. Dry equipment and clothing carefully

  • Dry all equipment and clothing - some species can live for many days in moist conditions. If it’s a warm sunny day, leave your boat out in the sun to dry - along with your extra kit.
  • If the sun won’t help then do dry your kit with towels etc ...  they will need to be washed after use (unless you can dry them out properly between uses). You might need to think of innovative ways of reaching inside the end of your boat but it’s important to do so.
  • Make sure you don't transfer water elsewhere.

Hot Water

A new innovative way to stop the spread is to soak small items at 45oC for 15 minutes. This has proved to result in a 99% mortality rate across all non native species.

The above means you need to do it if you are:-

  • a competitive paddler who trains and races on different water courses 
  • a freestyler/river runner who enjoys visiting a variety of waterways
  • a sea paddler/kayak angler who also uses inland waterways
  • a recreational paddler who enjoys touring around
  • a canoe polo player who uses outdoor pitches
  • a canoe sail participant who visit different places

Fundamentally we ALL need to do this as we have a major part to play in protecting the waterways we enjoy and are needed for our sport.

Prevent the spread of invasive species by asking members as well as visiting participants and competitors to wash down and dry boats, plus any other equipment such as wetsuits that may have been in contact with the water. Do this every time you leave the water and before you launch in new areas.

For more information visit:

Non Native Species Secretariat details measures and identification guidance for over 50 non-native animal and plant species.

Report suspected sightings of invasive species to the Environment Agency or call 0800 807060.

The Places to Paddle Team are pleased to say they are delivering, in partnership with The Rivers Trust and Wildlife Trusts, an informative and interesting environmental awareness programme which includes its delivery through the new Paddlesport Leader Guide Scheme module.  If you want to know more about any environmental concerns please contact the Policy Officer, Richard Atkinson on 07808640108 or by email.