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Help protect Bude Canal for future generations

20th May 2021

Bude Canal is a haven for wildlife and supports a range of recreational activities and businesses – but the presence of Zebra mussels is a concern for this unique historical waterway.

Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) are a priority invasive non-native species which can have negative impacts on wildlife and the economy. The small population of Zebra mussels at Bude Canal is the only known population in Cornwall.

South West Water’s Biosecurity and Invasives Manager, Kate Hills, explained: “Non-native invasive species are those which don’t originate from the UK and have a negative impact on our environment, economy or health. They can affect wildlife, restrict navigation and reduce biodiversity, to name a few.

“Zebra mussels can accidentally be spread by recreational activities such as angling and water sports, but many users of the canal are not aware of their presence. There is a concern that they could be introduced to other sites.

“It has been an extraordinary year and following the release of lockdowns there has been a huge influx of visitors to many sites in Cornwall. The risk of spreading Zebra mussels is greatly increased and it has never been more timely to review biosecurity measures and ways to prevent the spread of these problematic and highly invasive species.”

South West Water has a commitment to investigate the management options of Zebra mussels at Bude Canal and is working with mussel specialist Dr David Aldridge, Cornwall Council, Cormac and the Community Invasive Non-Native Group (CINNG), a Cornwall-based charity working to reduce the impact of invasive non-native species.

To coincide with the start of Invasive Species Week (24-30 May 2021), the partners will be installing and unveiling a special bench near the Tourist Information Centre and car park at Bude Canal on Monday 24 May. The eye-catching artwork by Greenspace Designs Ltd is to raise awareness of invasive species and to encourage water users to help protect this special site by preventing invasive species from spreading and reporting them if they do see them.

And on Wednesday 26 May, interested parties can attend a special free workshop to review the problem and discuss the management options.

Dr David Aldridge said: “We’ve seen what harm Zebra mussels can do elsewhere in the UK and so by implementing effective measures at the Bude Canal we have an amazing opportunity to protect biodiversity, recreational activities and water supplies across the whole of Cornwall.

“Of course, any management approaches we identify need to be acceptable to all the different users of the Canal and must also protect local wildlife. We very much hope that by working together we can identify a management plan that benefits the entire community.”

To join the workshop contact khills@southwestwater.co.uk

Canal users such as kayakers, anglers and stand up paddle boarders can help by remembering to Check, Clean, Dry:

Check – equipment and clothing for live organisms, particularly in areas that are damp or hard to inspect

Clean – and wash all equipment, footwear and clothes thoroughly, using hot water wherever possible. If you come across any organisms, leave them at the water body where you found them

Dry – all equipment and clothing, some species can live for many days in moist conditions. Make sure you don’t transfer water anywhere else 

Notes to editors

  • Non-native species are plants and animals which have been moved from their place of origin, accidentally or intentionally, and brought to into Britain by humans. Around 10% of these species are considered invasive. Invasive non-native species have a negative impact on the environment, the economy and sometimes human health
  • Non-native mammals include rats, mice, grey squirrels, rabbits, mink, deer, feral cats and ferrets and included eradicated mammals such as coypu
  • For more information about Invasive Species Week see http://www.nonnativespecies.org/

For further information please contact:

South West Water