Invasive mussel species a concern in Lough Derg

Lough Derg Photo © Tipp FM

An appeal has been made to local anglers to be aware and stop the spread of an invasive species to the River Shannon.

Chairperson of the Angling Council of Ireland Martin McEnroe says the invasive mussel species originated in Russia and Ukraine, and has now been sighted across Irish lakes.

He says the means by which it has spread to Ireland are still unknown, but he believes the most likely scenario is that boats from countries like France and Italy are coming to the River Shannon to cruise for long periods of time.

Martin says the lack of sanitation and regulation of these boats has seen the invasive species fester and grow in Irish waters, including Lough Derg which he says is “covered in it.”

He says it may be having a knock-on effect on other species.

“They actually started on Lough Derg and worked their way up through the Shannon on huddle boats. The whole bed of the lake is completely covered in these quag of mussels now. There’s approximately 250,000 per square meter on the bed of the lake. I looked at a video that was taken of the bed of Lough Ree, and it’s just staggering. And what the problem is for fisheries on the Shannon is that we have all our larvae, mayfly larvae, duckflies, and all of that; whether they can come through the amount of stuff that’s there at the moment is unknown.”

Anglers coming from Lough Derg to the River Shannon are being warned that this foreign species can breed in the millions and is warning local anglers to watch out for them attaching to their lines and detaching into other bodies of water.

He says they have all but displaced the zebra mussel in Ireland.

Martin is urging those coming from Lough Derg to be vigilant.

“Lough Derg is completely coated in them, and we’re just appealing to anglers: if you have to go down to the West of Ireland, there are plenty of boats for hire in the West of Ireland. So, it’s better if they go down and hire a boat and an engine down there. But if they have to bring their boat down there, for God’s sake, sanitize them! If somebody has an engine on Lough Derg, just be careful because these small little guys are going up into the intake pipe that cools your engine. Just clean that regularly. They build up, and next thing you know, your engine is broken.”