Friday 19 January 2018

Dragonfish find highlights threat posed by release of exotic species


Michael Staines

THE discovery of the remains of an exotic dragonfish on the River Suck has raised concerns over the damage being done to Irish waterways by the release of non-native organisms into the wild.

The dragonfish may have been brought into the country as pike fishing bait and although it is unlikely that it was brought here alive, Dr Joe Caffrey of Inland Fisheries Ireland said it could still damage our native biodiversity.

"There is a possibility that discarded fish could still have parasites, viruses or bacteria that would be alien to Ireland and if the fish are eaten, they could indeed pass that on to our native species," he said.

The discovery follows the rescue of a yellow-bellied slider turtle in Co Limerick last week and Dr Caffrey said Ireland has suffered from the introduction of a number of non-native species.

Pointing to a 2005 incident when the introduction of curly leaved waterweed into Lough Corrib caused havoc for native plant and insect species, Dr Caffrey said people need to be aware of the potential damage exotic animals or plants can inflict upon our unique wildlife.

"Very few people would do this on purpose. It really is down to a lack of knowledge and really the message we in fisheries are trying to get across is that non-native species should never be discarded into natural watercourses," he said.

Irish Independent

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