A new campaign to protect Irish waterways from invasive alien species has been launched (Wednesday, January 19) by multiple organisations across the country and Northern Ireland.

The 'Check, Clean, Dry' campaign suggests three measures to prevent the spread of harmful plant and animal species, potential environmental diseases and to lower the amount of litter on Irish waterways.

Invasive alien species are non-native species introduced by either deliberate or accidental human intervention, which can threaten native wildlife, damage the environment, the economy and human health.

Launching the initiative, ecologist with Leave No Trace Ireland - an outdoor ethics programme - Padraic Creedon, said:

Ireland is facing an increased threat of invasive alien species in and on its waterways."

The campaign addresses the public to take action by following three principles:

  • Check boats, equipment, clothing and footwear for any plant or animal material, including seeds, spores and soil;
  • Clean and wash all equipment, footwear and clothes thoroughly. Encountered plants and animals should be left at the water body where they were found;
  • Dry (or disinfect) all equipment and clothing for at least 48 hours – some species can live for many days or weeks in moist conditions.

Non-native species threatening Ireland’s waterways include water soldiers (stratiotes aloides), chub and pink salmon.

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage said many species are deliberately released, including fish for angling, while other non-natives might have escaped or arrived with imported goods.

Within almost half a century, the number of high impact invasive alien species introduced into Ireland saw a 183% increase by 2010.

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, said that tackling the issue of invasive alien species is crucial to stop biodiversity loss.

Ensuring both sides of the Irish sea are protected, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will engage with counterparts in Great Britain.

The initiative has been launched by Leave No Trace Ireland in partnership with Waterways Ireland; the National Biodiversity Data Centre; Sport Ireland; Canoeing Ireland; Inland Fisheries Ireland; the Marine Institute; Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland; Sport Northern Ireland; and the NPWS.