Biosecurity is the prevention of disease-causing agents or invasive species entering or leaving any place where they can pose a risk to plants, animals or humans. Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) are easily transferred from one watercourse to another from angling tackle, boats, protective gear and clothing. The main causes for concern are the unintentional introduction of disease, invasive species plant or animals, which could lead to the watercourse becoming infected with the spores from an invasive plant or animal pathogens. Both pose different implications and are hard to remediate and eradicate completely – thus dramatically changing an area that may become unsuitable for recreation activities, such as fishing.
Biosecurity in the field
Biosecurity is paramount when out in the natural environment, especially on our watercourses. The transfer of diseases or invasive species from one location to another can happen easily. For example, by an angler fishing on one watercourse who then moves on to a different watercourse without disinfecting his/her gear. The likelihood of cross-contamination is high.
How to protect our environment
Avoid touching your face or eating food when fishing. It is important to clean your hands properly after fishing activities and when around stagnant water for at least 20 seconds under warm, soapy water. If this is not possible on site, use anti-bacterial gel or hand sanitiser with at least 60-90% alcohol to be effective.
To ensure the non-transfer of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) and harmful fish pathogens into our watercourses, please make sure to INSPECT all your angling equipment, wellies, waders, and boots for attached plant or animal material before you leave any inland watercourse. If found, REMOVE and safely DISPOSE of such matter and material. Always CLEAN and DISINFECT your equipemnt (e.g. 1% solution of Virkon® Aquatic or another proprietary disinfectant product) at the water’s edge or as soon as possible after leaving. If no disinfectant is available, make sure all your equipment and clothing dries fully for at least 24 hours before you return to a watercourse. The use of felt soles is discouraged because they are known to transport aquatic nuisance species between waterways. There is no way of disinfecting them properly due to the material with which they are made.
Following a biosecurity routine before and after your every visit shows good practice to other anglers and naturalists, who visit such natural places regularly.
Remember: always Inspect, Remove, Dispose, Clean and Disinfect before entering and exiting a watercourse.