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New strategy to protect Northumberland crayfish launches

A new strategy has been launched in Northumberland to help protect one of the region's best-loved resident species - the white-clawed crayfish.

The Crayfish Area Conservation Strategy was launched last week on the grounds of Meldon Park in Northumberland.

It lays out a framework that will hopefully ensure the freshwater crayfish stays a resident in the region for years to come.

The strategy aims to improve our knowledge and better understand of the current distribution and status of freshwater crayfish in Northumberland, and improve our understanding of threats to the remaining populations, agree priorities and take appropriate actions.

It was developed by the Northumberland Catchment Partnership and will be delivered by the Northumberland Crayfish Conservation Steering Group.

This group is made up of the following partnership organisations - the Environment Agency, Northumberland Rivers Trust, National Trust, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Natural England, Northumbrian Water Group, Northumberland County Council, Tyne Rivers Trust, and Northumberland National Park Authority.

“The Environment Agency is the lead national organisation for the white-clawed crayfish and we fully support the aims and objectives of the Northumberland Crayfish Partnership,” said the Environment Agency’s biodiversity technical specialist, Ian Marshall.

“Their main threat is the spread of non-native crayfish species, which out compete our white-clawed crayfish and an aquatic mould carried by these invasive species named crayfish plague. Although it is harmless to humans, it causes 100 per cent mortality in our native crayfish populations,” added Marshall.

“We can prevent its spread by not moving crayfish around, as well as, properly checking, cleaning and drying equipment such as wellingtons, nets, boats or other equipment.

“We would advise everyone who is enjoying our environment to ensure they follow the important check, clean and dry advice as biodiversity is a critical factor in helping to protect the white-clawed crayfish,” he added.

The Crayfish Area Conservation Strategy work will include carrying out surveys for the species to spot population changes and get an up to date picture of where different crayfish species are residing, identifying potential river or pond habitat improvements and developing safe havens where crayfish can be moved to ensure the

John Hogger of the Northumberland Crayfish Conservation Steering Group, added: “In Northumberland we are incredibly lucky to have some of the best populations of white-clawed crayfish in the country. It is a legally protected species which lives under rocks and amongst tree roots in rivers, lakes and ponds.

“Unfortunately, due to the introduction of crayfish from other countries around the world the species is now endangered and requires a significant amount of help to ensure the remaining populations survive.”

Author: Jamie Hailstone,
Topic: Sustainability & social value
Tags: environment agency


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