"Check, Clean, Dry" Campaign to combat spread of Invasive Non-Native Species

  15 April 2014
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) alongside partner organisations are encouraging recreational water users in Dumfries and Galloway to thoroughly check, clean and dry any equipment as part of a campaign to ensure that invasive non-native species are not easily spread across Scotland's rivers and lochs.

A UK-wide initiative, the "Check, Clean, Dry" campaign aims at educating regular water users about the way in which aquatic plants and animals can unwittingly be transported by equipment, such as kayaks and fishing gear and threaten Scotland's delicate natural water environment.

Not all non native species are invasive, but those that are, such as Canadian Pondweed and North American Signal Crayfish, can be damaging to our environment, economy and the way we live. They crowd out native plants, prey on wildlife and carry disease. They cost Scotland as much as £244 million to the economy per year through the damage caused to buildings and infrastructure, leisure and tourism, forestry and aquaculture.

Anne Connick, Planning Officer for SEPA's Catchment Management Initiative, said:

Dumfries & Galloway has some of the finest lochs, rivers and coastlines in Scotland. Simple actions, that can be undertaken by everyone, to check, clean and dry all equipment before and after use in the water, can significantly reduce the risk of spreading unwanted species and diseases into or out of the region. One person transporting one animal or plant fragment to a new location, can create devastating affects for our native plants and animals, affecting tourism, recreation, infrastructure and businesses that rely on the waters affected.

"Once a non-native species reaches a new location it can be impossible to eradicate it. Prevention really is the best way to protect our valuable Scottish landscapes from invasion, and I would encourage everyone that uses and loves the water to please participate and help raise awareness of this campaign."

Leaflets and posters will be on display across Dumfries and Galloway as part of the campaign, to encourage the public to be mindful of invasive species whilst enjoying the water environment. Identification guides will also be available to help illustrate the various plants and creatures that regular water users should be aware of.

Stan Whitaker, SNH's expert on invasive non-native species, said:

Very few of Scotland's rivers and lochs are seriously affected by non-native species but we still need to be vigilant.  Once established, it's particularly hard to control the spread of freshwater species.  Water users can help protect these special places and the water sports they love by following these simple steps."

Jamie Ribbens, Senior Fisheries Biologist for the Galloway Fisheries Trust, said:

GFT fully support the 'Check, Clean, Dry' initiative and will be working closely with fishery interests to help role out the campaign locally.  It would be a total disaster if something like killer shrimp was accidently introduced to a local fishery.  Native ecology, such as aquatic invertebrates and young fish, would be decimated.  Impacts would be long term as there is no known method to eradicate killer shrimp.  It is essential for us all to take all possible precautions to stop the possible introduction of invasive species."

Be Plant Wise initiative

In support of the campaign, local gardeners are also being encouraged to appropriately dispose of garden plants, specifically from ponds and water features, under the Be Plant Wise initiative.

Certain non-native pond plants have the potential to become invasive by outcompeting native plants, clogging waterways and smothering valuable habitats for wildlife. Once they get into a river or pond they grow very quickly, are spread by running water and are costly to control. 

When they clean out their ponds, gardeners are advised to compost excess plants with care and under no circumstances dump plants in the wild.


Notes to editors

More information regarding the "Check, Clean, Dry" Campaign and "Be Plant Wise" Campaign can be found via the follow links:

Check, Clean Dry

Be Plant Wise