Urgent meeting held over Asian Clam crisis

A meeting to discuss the ongoing Asian Clam crisis in Ballyleague/Lanesboro was held in St Mary’s Hall, Lanesboro, on Wednesday.

  The chairman of the Lough Ree Angling Hub, Hugh Keane, chaired the meeting, which was also attended by a number of community activists.

  The purpose of meeting was to discuss the recent report by Irish Fisheries Ireland (IFI) on Asian Clam – one of the most invasive and widespread species in the world – at the Roscommon/Longford fishing haven.

  To the anger of local fishing fans, they advised against an extensive control programme because it would have limited success and be very costly.

  Asian Clam can have devastating consequences on fishing and tourism.

  A large population of the clams was first detected in September 2014 in hotwater section of the River Shannon, below the hot water discharge from the ESB generating station at Lanesboro.

  In June, a trial dredge operation was carried out by Waterways Ireland to remove clams from a specified 15 square-metre section.

  In its ‘post-dredge report’, IFI said: “The long-term effects of the infestation in this important angling stretch are unknown and needs to be monitored.”

  IFI said that the results from the trial were that a proportion of the clams could be removed using the suction dredge method with “some success”.

  However, they said that a further extensive control programme would not be advisable at this stage.

  The report added: “It is stressed that any control programme would also increase the risk of spreading the clam to other catchments, particularly in the absence of a safe disposal site in the locality.

  “In addition, it should be stressed that the only options available at present are focused on the reduction of the standing stock biomass in the hotwater stretch.

  “To suggest that this will have success in halting the spread of the clam in the Shannon catchment would be misleading.”

  IFI added that the cost of any control programme would be in excess of €150,000 a year and possibly significantly higher.

  “Such expenditure can hardly be justified when the clam is already established elsewhere in the catchment,” they added.