Check, clean, dry and relax

By Helen Waterhouse – Development officer, The Green Blue

killer_shrimpThis spring seems to have been warmer and sunnier than I can remember.

With just the sniff of a sunny day, we seem to be taking to our boats in the masses and looking forward to the long sailing season ahead of us.

Perhaps you are busy planning some summer jaunts to new and exciting harbours, anchorages and inlets, or maybe you will be trailing your dinghy and competing in championships and regattas across the country or even further afield.

If you are thinking of visiting a new place this summer then I’m sure you will be familiar with the usual passage planning or race preparation which goes hand in hand with such a trip. But did you know that boaters are now also being asked to consider how they can reduce the risk of spreading.

Non-Native Invasive Species as well? Non-natives, sometimes referred to as Alien Species, can cause major problems for our native flora and fauna, often smothering native species and damaging natural ecosystems. They can also have serious impacts on our fishing industry and cost the UK economy over £2 billion every year just to clean up.

Although NNIS have been introduced by accident, often arriving here in the ballast water of ships and tankers, they can be easily spread around our waterways and coastline by recreational boats. And therefore we boaters can play a vital part in preventing this spread.

The Green Blue has been advising boaters on how to minimise the spread of NNIS for some time but we know that a united effort is what is needed. So with this in mind, DEFRA have launched their new campaign, Check, Clean, Dry which is aimed at all those involved in watersports who can, unwittingly, spread non-native invasive species as they move between different bodies of water.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the problem of NNIS but more importantly, shows us in three simple steps what we can all do on our boats to prevent the spread:

  • Check equipment and clothing for live organisms – particularly in areas that are damp or hard to inspect before moving to a new location.
  • Clean and wash all equipment, footwear and clothing thoroughly. If you do come across any organisms, leave them at the water body where you found them.
  • Dry all equipment and clothing – some species can live for many days in moist conditions. Make sure you don’t transfer water elsewhere.

By following the DEFRA advice we can all help to prevent an invasion of alien species which could result in temporary restrictions on our activities, such as those recently experienced at Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire when the Killer Shrimp was found.

Grafham Water Sailing Club’s response was to set up a comprehensive system for checking and washing down all boats; the temporary restrictions were lifted and the club has been able to crack on with a full and busy programme of competitions and events.

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