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  1. Scotland
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  3. Biosecurity

Biosecurity

An alien non-native species is a species which is not native to the local area / region or the UK. The introduction of an alien species, either as a deliberate release or inadvertently through escapes can disrupt the natural balance of an ecosystem. Direct effects of an introduced species may include predation, habitat loss or augmentation, or competition for habitat and food resources. Indirect effects from alien species include the introduction and / or spread of diseases and parasites. Most non-native species are very difficult and expensive to eradicate or control once established

Biosecurity issues are of increasing economic and ecological significance. According to a survey, 'An Audit of Alien Species in Scotland', conducted by Scottish Natural Heritage, there are approximately 1000 non native species present in Scotland and while most exist in small populations with little impact on native flora and fauna, a small but significant proportion of these non native species are invasive. Recognition of the importance of the prevention, control or eradication of non native invasive species, parasites and diseases local river catchments has resulted in Fishery Trusts writing Biosecurity Plans to help address these concerns in their local areas

Anglers have a key role to play in identifying, reporting and ensuring they do not intentionally or accidently introduce or spread damaging alien species.

Any sightings or questions regarding Biosecurity please contact Galloway Fisheries Trust

North American Signal Crayfish - picture courtesy of Keith Kirk

Key species to be aware of

Fish - never introduce non-native fish species to any water without the appropriate licence. Introduced species can have a devastating impact on native fish stocks. Although now illegal, the loss or release of live bait by pike anglers has caused problems in many UK waters

Plants - key species of concern in Dumfries & Galloway include Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam and giant hogweed. There are control programmes aimed at eradicating these species from the riparian zone of all the region's rivers. Please report to the ELIA the presence of these species on any river banks. Great care must be taken not to accidently spread the seeds of balsam. For more information on identification and their control see tab labelled 'INN plants'

Invertebrates - North American signal crayfish are present in a few Dumfries & Galloway waters and causing extensive ecological damage. If you catch a crayfish please kill it immediately (there are no native crayfish in Galloway) and report to SNH, ELIA and GFT.

Disease / parasites - Gyrodactylus salaris (GS) is a freshwater ecto-parasite that infects Atlantic salmon and some other salmonid species. The parasite is less than 1 mm long and infests the skin, fins and gills which eventually kills its salmon host. An infestation of GS in a river will threaten the existence of any salmon population. At the present time this parasite is restricted to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia and some other Baltic countries but importantly has not yet occurred in the UK. There are various ways in which GS could be introduced into the UK, although the most likely route would be through water or fish from infected areas but there is also a risk from contaminated equipment from anglers and any other freshwater recreational activity (canoes, diving gear, etc). Always ensure you disinfect your angling equipment if you have recently fished abroad.

Japanese knotweed

identification:

Green cane-like stems with red specks that can reach up to 2 - 3m tall.

Heart shaped green leaves up to 120mm long.

Creamy white flowers from August to October

Roots consist of rhizomes that can reach up to 3m deep!

Control options:

Applying with a commercial glyphosate-based chemical such as Roundup ProBiactive is highly effective

Spraying - This should take place 4 times per year for a total of 4 years. The initial spraying should commence in May when the plant is 3 foot tall, and the final spraying should be in September just before the plant dies back for the winter. The two other sprayings should be within these dates during the summer.

Stem Injection - This should be carried out once a year for a total of two years. This should take place in August time when the plant is at its strongest to support the treatment. A follow up visit should take place to treat any stems missed.

do's And don'ts!:

Never throw away or fly tip plant material or soil - under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to plant or otherwise encourage the growth of Japanese Knotweed.

Never strim, flail, mow or chip Japanese Knotweed - pieces of stem as small as a fingernail can grow into new stems.

Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) should be contacted before any chemical control takes place near water.

Removal of plant material off site must be carried out by a licensed carrier

Himalayan balsam

Identifications

Stems are sappy and hollow in pinky-red colour. They can grow to 3m, being the tallest annual plant in Britain.

Spear-shaped leaves with serrated edges. Dark green with a dark red midrib up to 150mm long.

Flowers are slipper-shaped on long stalks. They are purplish-pink and flower from June to August.

Seeds are white, brown and black. They are produced from July to October with 4 - 16 per pod that explode, throwing seeds up to 20 foot

Control options

Spraying with a commercial glyphosate-based chemical such as Roundup ProBiactive is effective. This should be done when the leaves are fully out, but before flowering - typically in June

Cutting stems with a strimmer or pulling up hand before it flowers and sets seeds is successful. This grazing technique is highly effective.

Himalayan Balsam can be disposed of by leaving to dry out onsite or by burning.

do's And don'ts!

Never throw away or fly tip plant material or soil - under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to plant or otherwise encourage the growth of Himalayan Balsam.

Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) should be contacted before any chemical control takes place near water.

Do not touch the plant when loaded seed pods are showing - they will explode showering seeds. Be careful not to transport seeds to a new site. Seeds can be hidden in clothing or on your dog for example.

Giant hogweed

Identification

Stems are hollow, green with dark or purple blotches and will grow up to 5m tall!

Leaves are dark green in a rosette with a jagged appearance and spiky at the ends. The lower leaves can be up to 1.5m long!.

Flowers are white with several hundred in large umbrella-like flower heads up to 50cm across, appearing from June - July.

Each flower will produce up to 50,000 seeds that are easily dispersed by water and can remain viable for up to 15 years

Control options

Spraying with a commercial glyphosate-based chemical, such as Roundup ProBiactive is effective on Giant Hogweed. The plant needs to be sprayed once all the leaves are fully out, but before flowering. This is typically in June. Any re-growth can be sprayed later in the season. The plant should be controlled in 2 - 3 years, but will need future checking for any newly germinating seeds.

Cutting the stems before the plant flowers and sets seed is also an effective control option. This grazing-like method will stop the plant from producing seeds. This should be done for 2 - 3 years before achieving full eradication. Due to the health and safety issues with the 'skin burning' sap of Giant Hogweed, cutting should only be carried out by a qualified person.

do's And don'ts!

Never throw away or fly tip plant material or soil - under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to plant or otherwise encourage the growth of Giant Hogweed.

Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) should be contacted before any chemical control takes place near water.

Giant Hogweed should not be touched without protective clothing as contact with the sap can produce painful skin conditions

What can you do?

GFT are keen to hear from anyone that has reports of Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam or Giant Hogweed locations near watercourses within the Nith catchment area.

Dumfries and Galloway Council are equally keen to receive any roadside location reports by calling the main switch board on 030 3333 3000.

If you wish to find out more information, or want advice on controlling these alien plant species, please contact CIRB Project Officer, Neil Dalrymple on 01671 403011 or Email Us

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