British Canoeing has recently received a report from the Environment Agency of an American signal crayfish on the River Coquet near Felton. These crayfish are an invasive species and pose a serious threat to the native population of white-clawed crayfish in the nearby Wansbeck catchment.
Signal crayfish were introduced by accident into British waterways in the 1970's and soon after began to outcompete the native white-clawed crayfish for habitat and food. They have decimated the native crayfish populations where present. Signal crayfish cause further problems by burrowing into river and canal banks causing erosion, bank collapse and sediment pollution. This of course has a knock on effect on paddlers not just for put ins and get outs, but also potentially lack of access while banks are repaired. Prevention is cheaper than the cure as they say!
Information taken from Inland Waterways Association - read more here.
It's really simple. Every time you go out for a paddle, check, clean, dry. Check your boat, kit and paddle for any species or plant fragments and leave them by the waterway you paddle. Clean your kit thoroughly (you can find more information here), and dry your kit. That will help stop the spread of any invasive non native species, not just signal crayfish!
we are urging all paddlers to be mindful of this and to help prevent the spread by following strict guidelines before and after entering local rivers in Northumberland. Please ensure any footwear, equipment, and boats are checked, cleaned and dried.– Richard Atkinson, Policy Officer for British Canoeing
Remember, always check, clean, dry! Spread the word, not the INNS!