Inland Fisheries Ireland welcomes new crayfish legislation

Anglers reminded to maintain vigilance against crayfish plague

Tuesday, 2nd October 2018: Inland Fisheries Ireland is welcoming new legislation which will strengthen existing measures to protect the native white-clawed crayfish. The regulations will provide authorities in Ireland with the powers to prevent the arrival and spread of the five non-native species of crayfish included on the EU list of invasive alien species of Union concern.

The White-clawed Crayfish is considered a globally threatened species and Ireland holds one of the largest surviving populations. The freshwater species is found in many rivers and lakes in Ireland and is protected under both Irish law and the EU Habitats Directive. Throughout Europe, the species has been decimated by the impact of a disease called Crayfish Plague.

A native white-clawed crayfish. Photo by D.Gerke.


Many North American crayfish species are resistant to Crayfish Plague and can act as carriers of the disease which is rapidly fatal when passed to the White-clawed Crayfish. While there is no evidence that North American or other non-native crayfish have been introduced to Ireland, the crayfish plague has now reached five rivers in Ireland possibly by spores carried on fishing equipment.

The prospect of the disease being controlled depends on the absence of non-native crayfish. The European Union (Invasive Alien Species) (Freshwater Crayfish) Regulations 2018 targets the introduction of several species of non-native crayfish which have been included on the EU list of invasive alien species of Union concern (‘the Union list’). 

​Dr Ciaran, Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “We welcome this new legislation which is needed if we are to resist the threat from introduced crayfish. If invasive alien crayfish were to be introduced in Ireland, this could have a devastating effect on the ecology of many of the lakes and rivers.

We would urge the public to comply with the new regulations and help protect our native crayfish species. In particular, we would remind anglers to maintain vigilance in relation to the crayfish plague by carrying out routine cleaning and drying of equipment once leaving a river and before using it again.”

The public is also asked to alert the authorities of any mass mortalities of crayfish or sightings of unusual crayfish (e.g. red claws, large size) by contacting the National Parks and Wildlife Service (, the National Biodiversity Data Centre ( or Inland Fisheries Ireland (


For more information

Órla Sheils
Communications Manager
Inland Fisheries Ireland
T: 01 8842673
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


About Inland Fisheries Ireland

Inland Fisheries Ireland is a statutory body operating under the aegis of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) and was established under the Fisheries Act on 1st July 2010. Its principal function is the protection and conservation of the inland fisheries resource. Inland Fisheries Ireland promotes supports, facilitates and advises the Minister on the conservation, protection, management, development and improvement of inland fisheries, including sea angling. Inland Fisheries Ireland also develops policy and national strategies relating to inland fisheries and sea angling and advises the Minister on same.

Note to Editors:

Protect against the Crayfish Plague

Anyone using the river is being urged to observe the ‘Check, Clean and Dry’ protocol once they leave the river and before using it again. This means that all wet gear (boats, clothing and equipment) should be checked for any silt or mud, plant material or animals before being cleaned and finally dried. Disinfectant or hot water (over 40 degrees Celsius) should be used to clean all equipment and this should be followed by a 24 hour drying period.

Invasive Alien Species of Union concern

The list of invasive alien species of Union concern was introduced on foot of EU Regulation 1143/2014 on the control and management of invasive alien species. The five species of crayfish included on the Union list are included in the table below:


Common name 

Scientific name

Geographical application

Spiny-cheek crayfish

Orconectes limosus

Throughout the State

Virile crayfish

Orconectes virilis

Throughout the State

Signal crayfish

Pacifastacus leniusculus

Throughout the State

Red swamp crayfish

Procambarus clarkii

Throughout the State

Marbled crayfish

Procambarus fallax f. virginalis

Throughout the State