Water users in the Clonmel to Carrick on Suir region of the River Suir are been urged to take extra care in the water.
The warning comes after DNA analysis carried out this month showed a large number of dead crayfish in the river, who al died from a crayfish plague.
White-clawed crayfish are they only species affected as other freshwater animals remain safe. The plague affecting crayfish numbers causes 100% mortality.
Working together to contain the outbreak will be Tipperary County Council, Inland fisheries Ireland, National parks and the Wildlife service. It is expected a total kill of the population will occur due to the plague, as It did with recent outbreaks elsewhere. This will have a major impact on the local ecosystem and ecology of the river.
A âCheck, Clean and Dryâ protocol has been implemented for water users, once the leave the river before returning again. They are urged to ensure that all wet gear, boats, equipment, and clothing be checked for remaining silt, mud or animal and plant materials and cleaned before drying. They are advised to clean all equipment with water over 40 degrees Celsius and use disinfectant to ensure safety. They are also advised to observe a 24-hour drying period for all clothes and equipment.
This is vital to ensure there are no signs of any infectious organism on equipment. The plague organism can be transported via wet clothes and equipment, and the following of the above instructions are extremely important to prevent further outbreaks elsewhere.
The outbreak is the second case seen this year following the recent plague affecting a Cavan river in 2015. The outbreak is of deep concern to the area, due to its high influx of anglers and canoeists.
The white cray fish is also a species currently under threat of extinction with its recent dwindling numbers. Ireland holds on of the largest surviving populations of the species and it is the only freshwater species of its type in the country.
It can be found in lakes, streams or rivers all around the country, although numbers in Europe have been decimated by the plague.Â The spread of the plague was caused by the introduction of a North American species in Europe. Until the Cavan case of 2015 Ireland was said to be disease free.
This is the second confirmed outbreak of the disease in Ireland following one in County Cavan in 2015. There is no indication of how the disease reached the Suir although a link to the Cavan outbreak is considered unlikely as the disease there appears to have run its course. This outbreak on the River Suir is of great concern as the stretch of river affected is popular with anglers and canoeists.Â
If the plague spreads further around the country it is believed it wonât be long until the, Irish Law and EU habitats directive protected species, crayfish become eliminated entirely.
The public are again asked to follow carefully the âCheck, Clean and Dryâ protocol when using the river. Â
Any mass crayfish mortality sightings and unusual crayfish sightings(red claws, large in size) are asked to be reported to the authorities. This can be done by emailing Colette OâFlynn (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the National Biodiversity Data Centre, Waterford.