The battle against a killer crustacean with an appetite for destruction

Feeding on young fish and tiny aquatic creatures, the invasive species could be disastrous to UK wildlife

A A A

One of Britain's most dangerous invasive species, the so-called "killer shrimp" which destroys a wide range of water life, has started to spread across the country in a development described yesterday as "potentially disastrous".

First found in Britain two years ago, the small crustacean, originating in Eastern Europe, has a damaging effect on aquatic ecosystems out of all proportion to its size, preying on a range of invertebrates and young fish, and sometimes causing their extinction.

It was first found in Britain in 2010, in South Wales and Graffham Water, the reservoir in Cambridgeshire, and it was thought that a rigorous regime of biosecurity had confined Dikerogammarus villosus to its original locations. But yesterday the Environment Agency announced that it had been found in the Norfolk Broads, Britain's premier destination for boating holidays.

"This is a potentially disastrous development," said Mark Lloyd, the chief executive of the Angling Trust which represents anglers in England. "If it gets widespread through Britain it would dramatically change invertebrate populations of rivers and lakes.

"That might not sound significant, but the whole ecosystem is based on there being a great diversity of invertebrate life, and if you suddenly reduce that diversity greatly, that has knock-on impacts for fish, birds and the ecosystem in general."

He added: "This is one of the worst invasive species Britain has seen, and this is awful for rivers, particularly on top of all the other impacts our rivers are facing, with over-abstraction of water and diffuse pollution, gender-bending chemicals coming out of sewage treatment works." The shrimp has been found in Barton Broad, the second largest of the broads after Hickling Broad, the Environment Agency said.

"We've been closely monitoring for any further signs of the killer shrimp after we first discovered a colony at Grafham Water in 2010," said the agency's invasive species expert, Mark Diamond. "It may be small but it poses a huge threat to native wildlife in rivers, lakes and streams. The shrimp's presence could affect the UK's ability to meet tough European water quality targets.

"Barton Broad is highly popular with boat users and anglers so it is vital that people thoroughly clean and dry equipment to prevent the shrimp from spreading."

Mr Lloyd went further and said that "a proper national publicity campaign" was needed urgently to alert people to the dangers of spreading the shrimp. "We need to make sure that everyone who has a boat on the Norfolk Broads is given information on what biosecurity measures they need to take," he said. "The Broads are interconnected and are a large area of freshwater, so it will spread very easily within that area.

"People will be coming to the Broads from over the country, and going away with bits of water caught up in the bottom of their boats and their lifejackets and boots, which all could contain shrimps and their eggs."

Last year the Environment Agency put the shrimp at the top of their list of damaging invasive species.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London