River users have been urged to help stop the spread of an invasive species of shrimp which has been found in the Thames.

The crustacean, a relative of the so-called ‘killer shrimp’, was discovered between Windsor and Staines.

The Dikerogammarus haemobaphes - judged to be invasive in parts of mainland Europe – had earlier been found in canals in the Midlands but it is the first time it has been discovered in the Thames.

Specimens have been found over a nine mile stetch between Romney and Bell Weir.

Its cousin the killer shrimp is described as a voracious predator that kills a range of native species, including young fish, and can significantly alter ecosystems.

The Environment Agency says it is treating the newly-discovered species as “high impact” on the river. Anglers and other river users have been urged to take precautions to prevent it spreading.

Dave Harvey of the Thames Anglers Conservancy, said: "It is vital that we all help to prevent the shrimp spreading by checking, cleaning and drying any equipment or craft, our clothes, shoes and importantly fishing nets. All of these could carry this invasive species. "

In a briefing note the Environment Agency says “A programme of further investigations is underway to determine the extent of the distribution.
“While this new invasive shrimp species is related to the ‘killer shrimp’, we are uncertain at this stage what its impact might be. Until we have better information we will, as a precaution, treat it as a high impact species. An immediate assessment of the risks of this shrimp has been commissioned.”

The shrimp originates from Eastern Europe around Black Sea, and has invaded Western Europe largely as a result of a canal link created between the Danube and the Maine. It is one of approximately 20 invasive non-native species that are currently spreading via this route.

The Environment Agency says “Boat users must be particularly careful to ensure that boats and kayaks are drained, cleaned and dried. Boat trailers must also be thoroughly cleaned after use. Anglers should ensure that nets and other equipment are cleaned and dried thoroughly.”

Story dated Nov 1st 2012

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