South Scotland

Lochrutton crayfish confirmed during River Nith checks

North American signal crayfish
Image caption The North American signal crayfish has been blamed for destroying habitats in waterways

The presence of the invasive North American signal crayfish has been confirmed in a loch which drains into the River Nith in southern Scotland.

The find has provoked serious concerns about their potentially damaging impact on the environment and angling.

The Nith Catchment Fishery Trust verified the presence of the crayfish in the waters of Lochrutton.

It is also investigating reports of the species being found in the River Nith near the Kingholm Quay.

Survey work is now being carried out elsewhere in the lower reaches of the estuary.

A plan is also being formulated to prevent any further spread of the non-native crayfish.

The NCFT is working with Scottish Natural Heritage, the environmental watchdog Sepa, and Marine Scotland to develop a strategy.

Eradication is said to be impossible in such a large body of water as the River Nith.

Instead, the focus will be on educating the public on how to stop the species establishing itself in new areas.

Signal crayfish can be accidentally spread by using equipment, such as angling nets and boats, which have previously been used in water containing the creatures.

It is illegal to trap or move the fish and any caught accidentally must be killed on site.

The NCFT plans to set up signs highlighting the threat to the biosecurity of the river.

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