Non-native species are those that have been spread beyond their natural range by human activity. Many non-natives can co-exist with our wildlife, but in some cases their populations increase rapidly and they become invasive.
Invasive non-native species (INNS) damage native wildlife and ecosystems by:
As well as their impact on wildlife they can also have a serious effect on the economy; destroying crops, affecting recreation and tourism and damaging important infrastructure. For example, the burrows made by invasive signal crayfish and Chinese mitten crabs can undermine river banks and flood defences.
Our rivers, lakes and wetlands are particularly vulnerable to INNS such as floating pennywort and killer shrimp. Many of these species spread very quickly and, once established, can be difficult to control.
To stop the spread of water INNS please Check, Clean, Dry clothing and equipment. By following these three simple rules you can help combat these problem species:
Check - Inspect boats, boat trailers, fishing equipment and clothing – anything that has been in contact with the water or shore. Remove weed, debris and mud, and drain water from boat wells and engines. Many invasive plant species can propagate from the smallest fragments.
Clean - Where possible hose down craft and equipment when you leave the water. Many recreation centres now have facilities to do this. In some cases it will be appropriate to both wash and disinfect equipment to help reduce the risk of transfer of diseases and plant fragments, eggs and larvae - too small to be seen with the naked eye.
Dry - Many invasive plants and animals can survive out of the water for weeks if they are kept damp, but thoroughly drying equipment after use will kill the majority of problem species. Ensure that dried equipment is stored where it will not be exposed to moisture. For example, boats should be transported and stored with drainage plugs removed and, ideally, kept under cover. Stored keep nets should be left hanging in a dry environment.
Find more Check, Clean, Dry advice for boaters, canoeists and anglers on the Non-Native Species Secretariat website.
Many non-native water plants (such as parrot's feather Myriophyllum aquaticum) sold by garden centres and aquarium suppliers can cause problems if they are allowed to escape from gardens or are disposed of incorrectly. You can find out more about these plants and what you can do to stop their spread at the Be Plant Wise website.