Help Prevent the Spread! #InvasivesWeek

This week, 29 February to 6 March 2016, is Invasive Species Week. It is a government-led campaign across Britain to raise awareness of invasive non-native species and prevent their spread.

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Eleanor Upstill-Goddard, MSc graduate and rower at Tyne United Rowing Club, feels that this area needs to be more widely publicised, and shares all we need to know about the initiative “Check Clean Dry” with us.

Rowers and aliens – perhaps not two words that you would associate with each other, but it may surprise you to learn that there is a real connection. So what does this mean? Is it another Hollywood action thriller but this time the heroes are rowers rather than cowboys? Unfortunately, I am not talking about mysterious aliens but about non-native invasive alien species.

So what are they and why should we care? Quite simply, invasive species are non-native to our country but they are now so prevalent that they are damaging our native wildlife and ecosystems. How? Well, they can outcompete our native species for food and habitats, spread diseases and even cause extinctions. As rowers, our rivers and lakes are our greatest allies but through them we may unwittingly affiliate ourselves with the enemy: a range of aquatic and terrestrial invasives. When we row, it’s usually a fairly regimented practice. Boat out, blades out, row, scrutinise the opposition, row, put the blades away, wash the boat and done. But what if I said to you, check, clean and dry? Would you understand and could you add it to your regime?

The UK spends approximately £1.7 billion per annum on controlling invasive species [Jackson et al, 2014].

Applying a policy of “Check Clean Dry” would help arrest the spread of aquatic invasives like the Asian Clam, already prevalent in many UK waterways. This species can be spread, in larval form, where traces of river water or mud remain on boats or blades. Rowers can even spread invasive land plants like Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam because these can become entangled in riggers. Even small traces of such invasives can spawn new populations when boats are transported to other areas.

Check Clean Dry

Why not show how you are helping with the battle against invasive species by sharing a picture of your “Check Clean Dry” routine with us on, Facebook/britishrowing, Twitter @britishrowing, or Instagram/britishrowing.

To help make a difference then apply “Check Clean Dry” to your routine. Blades, boats, life jackets and even our dirty rowing kits should be checked for any signs of stowaways. Check it! See something suspect? Clean it! Wash your kit thoroughly and clean the boat with either hot or cold soapy water. Disinfectants and bleach are great for controlling the spread of invasives, and as long as they do not damage the boat, use them in your cleaning routine. Remove mud, scum and anything that wasn’t there when you first went on the water. Finally, dry it! Towels should be run over the boat and blades after washing to ensure that no contaminated water remains, but remember, the towels will need washing later too!

Ok, so it may seem like a lot of effort, but it really isn’t. “Check Clean Dry” won’t take you longer than five minutes and it really is worth it. As a group (some of us not so much) we are already champions of endurance and stamina, let’s take it a little further. Let’s not pass up the chance to be champions of the environment and national alien conquerors! There’s a t-shirt there somewhere…

For more information about Invasive Species Week click here, follow @CheckCleanDryGB or search #InvasivesWeek.

Links:

Invasive Species Week – www.nonnativespecies.org/invasivespeciesweek.

Reference:

Jackson et al, ‘Niche differentiation among invasive crayfish and their impacts on ecosystem structure and functioning (2014). Freshwater Biology, 59, 1123-1135.

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