Buglife welcomes the added protection, coming into effect on 3rd August 2016, provided by the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation. Our increasingly connected world greatly raises the risk of spreading alien species through trade, recreation and leisure activities. Not all alien species are harmful, but the relatively few ‘invasive’ ones can compete with native plants and animals, introduce diseases and change the character of wildlife for ever. Vigilance is needed. The EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation came into force on 1st January 2016. Its aim is to prevent or manage the introduction and spread of invasive non-native species across the European Union. In order to achieve this aim, the Regulation requires Member States to put in place surveillance and rapid response mechanisms and to develop management action plans. These obligations apply from 3rd August to an initial list of 37 animal and plant species. Listing imposes restrictions on the unlicensed keeping, sale and transport of these plants and animals, and their breeding or release. The initial EU list of invasive alien species includes seven invertebrates:
Asian hornet Vespa velutina preys on other insects, threat to honey bee, stings!
Chinese mitten crab Eriocheir sinensis predates fish and invertebrates, damages river banks
Marbled crayfish Procambarus spp. omnivorous, compete with our only native crayfish spread crayfish plague,damage river banks
Red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii omnivorous, compete with our only native crayfish spread crayfish plague,damage river banks,
Signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus omnivorous, compete with our only native crayfish spread crayfish plague,damage river banks
Spiny-cheek crayfish Orconectes limosus omnivorous, compete with our only native crayfish spread crayfish plague,damage river banks
Virile crayfish Orconectes virilis omnivorous, compete with our only native crayfish spread crayfish plague,damage river banks
All of these species are included in the ‘Top 50’ invasive alien invertebrate species of most concern in the UK, as identified by Buglife in 2015. All except one, the Virile crayfish, are already covered by limited restrictions under domestic legislation (the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981). Brexit does not mean there will be immediate changes to our legal obligations under this EU Regulation: until we formally leave the EU the Regulation will apply, and even then it will be subject to the form of Brexit.
Paul Hetherington, a director of Buglife said. “Agreement on this initial, very modest list of species is a small but important step in controlling the invasive alien species that are threatening our natural heritage. Buglife has been working for several years creating ark sites to save the native White-clawed crayfish, which is at severe risk from diseases carried by invasive alien crayfish species”.