Inland Fisheries Ireland has prohibited angling at the ‘hot water’ stretch in Lanesboro after the discovery of Asian Clam, Corbilcula fluminea, downstream of the ESB power plant at the top of Lough Ree.
Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) officers received a report this morning, Thursday, September 11 and a rapid response team was deployed to erect signs in the location prohibiting angling on this fishery until further notice.
Dr Joe Caffrey, a Senior Research Officer with Inland Fisheries Ireland, attended the location and confirmed the presence of the invasive species this afternoon.
Amanda Mooney, Director for the Shannon River Basin District of Inland Fisheries Ireland, stated, “It is a tremendous shock to discover that this aggressive alien invasive species is present and established in this popular fishery. Inland Fisheries Ireland is responding to this serious development and anglers and other water users are encouraged to report any sighting of this or other invasive species to our 24 Hour confidential hotline : 1890 34 74 24 or use the IFI Invasive Species App.”
An initial assessment further downstream by Dr Caffrey did not show signs of a presence of the invasive species.
A full assessment will be carried out and a meeting is scheduled to take place on Monday, September 15 between the relevant agencies to agree the next steps, to ensure that there no further spread towards Lough Ree occurs.
IFI are warning Anglers of the dangers posed to other waters. Asian clam can spread on fishing equipment such as keep nets, landing nets, boats, rods and clothing. A decision has been made to close this section of the fishery as a temporary measure to avoid the accidental spread of Asian Clam to other waters.
The fishery will reopen at the earliest opportunity once bio-security measures for anglers can be introduced. These measures will include disinfection facilities for all angling equipment.
Like the Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha), Asian Clam has the ability to become highly invasive in a short period of time and at high densities it can alter the food web and compete with native mussel species.
Asian clam are known to aggressively out compete native invertebrate communities, limit phytoplankton biomass, biofoul water intakes, alter benthic habitats, add biologically available nitrogen and phosphorus to systems, and impact aesthetic and recreational values of public beaches, lake front properties and swimming areas.
Their high rates of filtration, metabolism, reproduction, tolerance to wide ranges of habitats, and juvenile dispersal allows Asian clam to aggressively expand ranges and to rapidly re‐invade areas; limiting management, reducing restoration efforts and impacting native benthic communities. Asian clam are capable of both filter feeding (feeding from the water) and pedal feeding (feeding directly from the sediment).
A fish stock survey carried out by Inland Fisheries Ireland on Lough Ree in March 2014 also included grab sampling for the Asian Clam invasive in 200 sites over the entire lake. No Asian Clam was found at that time.