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Tuesday 20 February 2018

Fears for wildlife after Asian clam 'invader' found in river

Eoghan MacConnell

A CLAM is the latest foreign 'invader' to threaten native wildlife, sparking fears for the salmon and trout population.

The Central Fisheries Board is preparing a plan to try to eradicate the newly discovered invasive species, the Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea), from the River Barrow, Co Carlow.

The National Biodiversity Data Centre and Invasive Species Ireland have issued an alert following confirmation of the discovery of a "well-established" colony of Asian clams in the river.

The species, which originates in south-eastern Asia, can grow up to 5cm in length and has the potential to severely impact on Ireland's waterways.

Colette O'Flynn, researcher at the National Biodiversity Data Centre, described the threat from the clam as worrying.

"It has the potential to be as serious as the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) because it has the ability to alter its environment probably more rapidly," she said.

Although Asian clams can affect their environment more rapidly once introduced, they are less likely to travel than the zebra mussel as they lack the ability to cling to boats.

However, Ms O'Flynn believes the clams could pose a serious threat to salmon and trout spawning grounds on the river. Large numbers of Asian clams can transform gravel riverbeds into muddy surfaces through a "pseudo faeces" which is produced as they feed, Ms O'Flynn explained.

The Asian clam was discovered in the River Barrow at St Mullins on April 13. The Central Fisheries Board has since investigated the site and are planning to remove the clam colony from the waterway.

Irish Independent

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