Advisory signs have been erected along the River Suir
Environment experts are appealing to fishing and water sports enthusiasts not to move their equipment out of the River Suir catchment area to other waterways as an emergency measure to prevent the spread of the plague hat has wiped out the crayfish population between Carrick-on-Suir and Clonmel.
An inter-agency group of environmental, wildlife and fisheries experts battling to contain the Crayfish Plague outbreak on the River Suir has asked all river users to operate this "temporary ban" on moving water sports and angling equipment to other rivers and streams.
The expert group has also urged river users to limit their activity to the river section where they normally operate, avoid moving around the catchment and to continue to follow biosecurity protocols of checking, cleaning and drying boats and other equipment after using them on the river.
The group of agencies met in Clonmel to discuss their plan of action last Tuesday, May 23, the day dead crayfish were found at Sandybanks, Clonmel.
This is beyond the original area the plague was confined to between around Sir Thomas's Bridge on the other side of Clonmel and Coolnamuck Weir near Carrick.
The cause of the crayfish deaths at Sandybanks is under investigation. They have not yet been confirmed as casualties of th e plague.
The inter agency meeting was attended by representatives of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Inland Fisheries Ireland, Environmental Protection Agency, Tipperary Co. Council, Tipperary Sports Partnership, Waterford City and Co. Council, Marine Institute, Local Authority Water and Communities Office, Waterways Ireland and National Biodiversity Data Centre along with other experts.
In a statement issued after the meeting, the inter agency group described the outbreak of Crayfish Plaque on the Suir as the "single greatest threat to Ireland's native White Clawed Cayfish population".
The plague has wiped out hundreds of thousands of this native crayfish species along the Suir between Clonmel and Carrick over the past month.
Ireland has the most significant population of White Clawed Crayfish in Europe and the agencies tackling the plague fear it will spread elsewhere on the Suir and to other waterways with large crayfish populations such as the Nore and Blackwater rivers.
The inter-agency group said there have been reports of crayfish die offs in a number of river catchments throughout the country.
The Crayfish Plague mould is an invasive pathogen associated with non native crayfish species to Ireland and is lethal to the native crayfish, killing 100 per cent on contact.
According to experts, it will kill native crayfish within 10 days of contact and spores of the mould can last up to 3 weeks in water and on damp materials.
Dr Fran Igoe of the Local Authority Waters and Communities Office said it was in all our interests to carry out biosecurity measures when entering or leaving a water course, to not only restrict the transfer of this lethal disease to Crayfish but to also prevent the spread of other non-native invasive species.
Information signs about the plague and measures that should be taken to prevent its spread have been erected along the River Suir.
Information has also been sent by text, email and social media to water sports and angling clubs and other organisations that use the river.
"We are particularly grateful for the assistance and co-operation of all club volunteers who have helped with putting up posters and getting this important message out to their members and networks," said Dr Igoe.