A fifth outbreak of crayfish plague in Ireland was recently confirmed in the River Barrow in Co. Kilkenny. This outbreak adds to those already recorded in the Lorrha River in North Tipperary, River Suir in Co. Tipperary, River Deel in Co. Limerick and the Erne/Bruskey Waterway in Co. Cavan. As a result of DNA analysis, NPWS has recently confirmed that crayfish plague is present in the River Barrow between Carlow and Graiguenamanagh. This is a worrying situation and is being investigated by NPWS.
Ireland holds the largest population of White-clawed Crayfish that remains in Europe. White-clawed Crayfish is the only crayfish species native to Ireland and is protected under Annex II and Annex V of the European Habitats Directive. Annex II designation requires the assignment of Special Areas of Conservation in order to protect a species while Annex V prevents the removal of a species from the wild.
Crayfish plague has a 100% mortality rate and can be spread via boats, angling equipment and wet gear. The plague is a parasitic fungus that can be carried by the non-native invasive crayfish. Each American crayfish species carries a different strain of the plague. Although invasive crayfish species have not been confirmed in Ireland, it’s presence is not necessary for the transferral of spores via wet gear, angling equipment, boats etc. As a result, Waterways Ireland have currently placed a temporary ban on transferral of equipment from areas infected with crayfish plague. When entering and/or exiting a watercourse a suitable disinfectant should be used such as Virkon® Aquatic or proprietary disinfectant with a contact time of at least 15 minutes. Items difficult to soak can be sprayed/wiped down with disinfectant. For more information on biosecurity measures that are in place and details of the plague see the links below. And remember: “CHECK, CLEAN & DRY”!