Authorities tackle aliens

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Officials are taking action against aliens; not a tabloid headline but news in the fight against the tide of alien species invading our waters.

Last week the Environment Secretary for Scotland announced legislation which will make it illegal for live fish or spawn to be introduced into inland waters without permission.

Depending on the Scottish rivers concerned, applications will have to be made to the district salmon fishery boards or the government run Fisheries Research Services (FRS).

Richard Lochhead is quoted in the BBC Scotland News saying:

"The legislation I am announcing today provides the government and district salmon fishery boards with a powerful tool to protect Scotland's unique and fragile freshwater biodiversity, while continuing to promote the world-renowned fishing it supports."

This legislation comes just weeks after the launch of DEFRAs ~Non-native invasive species strategy .

Measures included in the strategy include an online directory of alien species, a rapid response framework for use when invasive species are detected for the first time and increased education on the risks of introducing non-native species.

Alongside this legislation Queen s University, Belfast has just announced a project to get the public to help find ways to detect and stop the spread of invasive aliens.

Together with the Marine Aliens Consortium (coordinated by the Scottish Association for Marine Science), the project will ask the public to survey marine life and report in their findings.

Professor Christine Maggs, from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen's, said: "While exotic plants and animals like rhododendrons and grey squirrels are obvious in the British Isles, beneath the waves a hidden invasion of non-native species is taking place around our shores.

"Many marine aliens have left their natural enemies behind and may compete with native species with potentially disastrous consequences for aquaculture, tourism and other marine activities.

The project will use the information gathered to look at how invasions can be slowed or prevented and will focus on species such as the Chinese mitten crab, Japanese skeleton shrimp, Slipper limpet, Leathery sea squirt and Pacific oyster.

Invasive non-native species can have a serious impact on native wildlife and costs the UK economy between 2- 6 billion every year.

The modern life style, with increased travel, trade and leisure activities, has meant that there are now 2,721 non-native species in Britain, including 65 non-native marine species.