WATERWAYS experts gathered in Tibberton after an invasive species of shrimp was discovered for the first time in this country.
The shrimp, Dikerogammarus haemobaphes, which is a relative of the ‘killer shrimp’, was first discovered in the River Severn at Tewkesbury and Bevere, near Worcester, before also been found in two canals in Worcestershire.
This is the first time this non-native shrimp, which has been shown to be invasive on mainland Europe, has been found in the UK.
It was identified after samples were taken from the River Severn for Severn Trent Water.
Shortly after, other populations were discovered on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. The sites are now spread over a distance of approximately 38 kilometres.
Experts are uncertain at this stage what its impact might be. Until they have better information they will, as a precaution, treat it as a high impact species.
An immediate assessment of the risks of the shrimp has been commissioned and Environment Agency workers took to the banks of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal at Tibberton, near Droitwich Spa, to find out more on Wednesday, October 3.
The Environment Agency now has a dedicated team in place to establish how far the shrimp has spread along the river and canal network. The local response is also being supported by a national task group.
The Environment Agency and Canal & River Trust is urging all water users to help slow the spread of the invasive species by helping publicise the bio-security advice available at nonnativespecies.org/checkcleandry All water users should check, clean and dry all their equipment after use, before using it at another location.
Anglers should ensure that nets and other equipment are cleaned and dried thoroughly.
If you think you have seen an unusual shrimp, you should email a photograph to firstname.lastname@example.org for identification.
David Throup, environment manager for the Environment Agency, said: “We are concerned that this invasive species has been found in the Midlands. We now have a dedicated team whose focus is to establish the degree of the problem, and whether the shrimp has spread wider than the locations already found. We are treating this as a priority so that we can come up with a plan to help contain it’s spread as far as possible.”