Biosecurity Initiatives to Empower Stakeholders in the Fight against Aquatic Invasive Species

Joseph M Caffrey


Worldwide, the introduction of non-native species that become invasive is one of the major causes of species extinctions in freshwater habitats. These invasive species can also pose serious economic and social problems in affected countries. It is important, therefore, that rigorous and informed mechanisms to stop the introduction and spread of these harmful species, and to mitigate their adverse impacts, are developed and adopted. Effective biosecurity to achieve the above requires the availability of appropriate legislation and enforcement mechanisms, coordinated surveillance, monitoring and rapid reaction capabilities, tried and tested control / management procedures, and a public that is educated in relation to the threats posed by invasive species.

In Ireland considerable effort has recently been focused on developing comprehensive education and awareness programmes for the public and for key stakeholder groups. The aim is impart useful and accessible information relating to the range of freshwater invasive species that are present in Ireland, and those that could be introduced, and the risks that they pose to the environment and to the economy. Information is also provided on the proper identification of aquatic and riparian invasive species and how to competently report sightings. This information is provided in through various media, including a recently produced interactive App for use on smart ‘phones. The importance of cleaning and disinfection for a wide range of water users has also been highlighted. Protocols and procedures for proper cleaning and disinfection of technical field survey equipment, angling tackle, boats, scuba diving gear and other materials used on or in freshwaters have been developed and demonstrated to stakeholders and interested parties. New and innovative biosecurity initiatives aimed to make the disinfection process easier and more cost-effective have been developed and will be described. Capacity building among stakeholder groups is the primary focus of this effort, with the ultimate goal of empowering these water users to operate and implement these biosecurity initiatives.

It is anticipated that appropriate legislation to support the above biosecurity measures will be enacted in Ireland in the near future.