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There's an outbreak of crayfish plague in a Kilkenny river

Crayfish plague has been detected in eight other Irish rivers in the past four years.

Image: Shutterstock/francesco de marco

AN OUTBREAK OF CRAYFISH plague has been confirmed in the River Nore, Co Kilkenny, bringing the total of Irish rivers where it’s been detected to eight.

The disease is threatening Ireland’s native and globally-endangered white-clawed crayfish; in Europe, the plague has decimated crayfish numbers. Ireland now holds the largest population of the white-clawed crayfish in Europe. 

This plague is spread by being carried by a North American species of crayfish.

In a previous press release issued by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Marine Institute, “it is predicted the disease will wipe out the crayfish from the river system”.

Other rivers that have been confirmed to contain crayfish plague in recent years are:

  • River Bruskey/Erne (Co Cavan; detected 2015)
  • River Suir (Co Tipperary/Waterford, detected 2017)
  • River Deel (Co Limerick, 2017)
  • River Barrow (Co Carlow 2017)
  • River Lorrha (Co Tipperary, 2017)
  • River Al (Westmeath, 2018)
  • River Maigue (Co Limerick, 2019)
  • River Clare (Co. Galway/Mayo, 2019).

The government and other wildlife authorities are advising people to adopt emergency containment measures if using these rivers.

Water users are asked not to move water sports and angling equipment out of these rivers, or if they are, to Check, Clean and thoroughly Dry all equipment for 48 hours, to reduce the chances of spreading the plague. 

The advice is to power-steam wash equipment at a suitably high temperature (at least above 65 degrees), or use power washers at service stations.

You can also disinfect everything using an approved disinfectant such as Milton, Virkon Aquatic (3mg/L), Proxitane (30mg/L) or an iodine-based product for 15 minutes.

Items difficult to soak can be sprayed or wiped down with disinfectant. Engine coolant water or residual water in boats and kayaks should be drained and where possible flushed out with disinfectant.

Any suspected sighting of many dead or dying native white-clawed crayfish should be reported with photos here if possible.

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