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Crayfish Moved as Threat of Crayfish Plague

21 February 2013

UK - An endangered species of crayfish has been moved from a stream near Sheffield by the Environment Agency to give it a better chance of survival. The white-clawed crayfish are native to the area but are in danger from various factors, including the larger invasive signal crayfish which out-competes them for food and also spreads crayfish plague.

The white-clawed crayfish population will be caught by hand and moved from Sheffield’s Porter Brook, which carries one of the most threatened populations in the Yorkshire region, to a tributary further up in the hills, above a reservoir.

There has already been an outbreak of crayfish plague in the downstream reaches of Porter Brook, and the invasive signal crayfish are advancing upstream. The new location will be kept secret.

The reservoir will act as a barrier, halting the upstream spread of the alien signal crayfish and the plague it carries, and hopefully giving the white-clawed crayfish a safe haven to help it survive.

Ian Marshall, a biodiversity officer for the Environment Agency said: “The new home for the white-clawed crayfish will be what we call an ‘ark site’ – a place which is physically and biologically remote, giving the best protection for our native crayfish from the crayfish plague which has decimated them, and the invasive crayfish itself.

“Once at this secure site the native population should be able to settle and reproduce safely, without the problems caused by the signal crayfish. The new location should also have less pollution, another factor in the decline of the white-clawed crayfish.”

The Environment Agency is using contractors to plan the operational side of the work and apply to Natural England for the licence to move the crayfish.

The agency is also working with the National Park Authority, Yorkshire Water, Sheffield Council and the Hillsborough Motorcycle Club on the project.

The Hillsborough Motorcycle Club have agreed to alter the route of their 90-year-old annual trials motorcycle event, which takes place in the beck channel.

TheFishSite News Desk

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