British Rowing backs DEFRA’s campaign to protect our waterways

Ben Hunt-Davis with Minister, Richard Benyon

Gold medal Olympic rower Ben Hunt-Davis joined Environment Minister Richard Benyon today to launch the Check, Clean, Dry campaign to stop the spread of aquatic invasive non-native species.

The campaign aims to counter the threat to Britain’s economy and wildlife posed by the spread of invasive non-native species such as the “killer shrimp”.

Richard Benyon said: “Aggressive species from across the world have the potential to reach Britain and cause real damage and even wipe out some of our native wildlife.

“We all have a duty to stop this from happening, and all those that use the water for recreation and sport can do their bit by heeding the advice to Check, Clean and Dry their boats and gear. Just a few moments care can mean the difference between keeping our rivers and lakes healthy or infecting them with the likes of a killer shrimp or invasive non-native plants.”

Ben Hunt-Davis said: “Rowers, along with other recreational water users, need to be aware of the simple actions they can take to protect our aquatic environments, not just from the killer shrimp but from all invasive non-native plants and animals.

“We all have a responsibility towards our natural environment so it is particularly encouraging to see so many organisations behind this campaign.

“Though we may have different interests, by working together under a common theme – Check, Clean, Dry – we can really drive this important message home. I’m really pleased therefore to support this campaign.”

The campaign is aimed at all those that use the water for recreation and sport who can unwittingly spread non-native invasive species as they move between different bodies of water like rowing lakes. Individual organisms, eggs, larvae and plant fragments can be carried on equipment, clothing and footwear.

All recreational water users can take some simple steps to help prevent the infection of healthy waterways:

•Check equipment and clothing for live organisms – particularly in areas that are damp or hard to inspect.
•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.

British Rowing Facilities Consultant, Alan Meegan, said: “British Rowing is committed to helping Defra contain the spread of invasive aquatic species from overseas. Defra has been very pro-active over this and we are pleased to support them in doing all that we can to protect our native species”.

More information on the new campaign can be found at www.direct.gov.uk/checkcleandry

The campaign has the support of major bodies, water user groups and conservation organisations including: Anglian Water, Angling Trust, Association of Rivers Trusts, British Canoe Union, British Marine Federation, British Rowing, Environment Agency, Freshwater Biological Association, Natural England, Royal Yachting Association, and Salmon & Trout association.

D. villosus (‘killer shrimp’) has been found at Grafham Water, Cambridgeshire on 3rd September, Cardiff Bay 25th November and Eglwys Nunydd reservoir on 26th November 2010.

Non-native invasive species cost the British economy at least £1.7 billion each year and millions of pounds is spent on aquatic invaders alone.

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