Control of Aquatic Invasive Species and Restoration of Natural Communities in Ireland (CAISIE) commenced in January 2009 and concluded in January 2013.  The project aimed to contribute to the understanding and control of aquatic invasive species in Ireland.  It was an EU Life+ funded programme co-financed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and run by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

The broad objective of the project was to contribute to the halting of biodiversity loss in Ireland by preventing further impacts on native biodiversity from high impact aquatic invasive species. This was achieved through the development and demonstration of effective control methods, a programme of stakeholder engagement and awareness raising, the enactment of appropriate robust legislation, and policy development and dissemination. The specific objectives of the project included:-

  1. To protect the native biodiversity in Lough Corrib by eradicating, controlling or containing Lagarosiphon major.
  2. To prevent further spread of high impact aquatic invasive species by implementing control measures in a key dispersal corridor (i.e. the canals and Barrow Navigation).
  3. To conduct a detailed desk study and consult experts and authorities widely in order to collect data on the ecology and invasive capacities of the more problematic alien species and on effective control methods. This information will permit the development of informed guidelines for effective aquatic invasive species management.
  4. To implement the widest range of containment, control and eradication procedures as is available in an effort to eliminate alien species from the targeted waters. The success of these methods was scientifically monitored and the results will be used to inform ongoing control proposals. Specific research focus was placed on developing new and innovative containment and control methods for use against the range of invasive species present in Irish waters.
  5. To engage key stakeholders in an education and awareness programme aimed at preventing new invasions, further spread and reinvasion by existing high impact species.
  6. To exchange and disseminate information on control and management methods with other European invasive species control teams and policy makers leading to more effective control of aquatic invasives in Ireland and across Europe.
  7. To contribute to the protection of biodiversity in Ireland and the European target to halt biodiversity loss by 2010 by building capacity on invasive species control.

In order to manage the project, key action plans that tie into the overall project objectives were identified.
The sequence of the action plans was as follows:-

  • Project Initiation. This entailed the establishment of the project team, infrastructure, baseline data review (detailed desk study) and establishment of the Project Advisory Group. The Project Advisory Group and management structures within IFI (formerly CFB) ensured efficient delivery of the project and fulfilment of the actions. Technical and financial reports were prepared and submitted to the Commission.
  • Stakeholder consultations. Consultation with key stakeholders endeavoured to secure further support for the implementation of the project and establishment of the stakeholder network. This proved essential to the overall success of the project.
  • Workshop on control / management options and remediation. A workshop with stakeholders and international experts was convened in April 2010 to inform the further development of the action plans for each project area.
  • Programmes to eradicate/contain/control/manage invasive species. These programmes drew upon the results already obtained from research conducted in the area of aquatic plant and invasive species management in Ireland and abroad. While traditional control and removal methods were used, new methods were researched and developed. A worldwide network of weed and invasive species management contacts was established during the project to ensure that every available mechanism to tackle these aggressive aliens was utilised.
  • Lagarosiphon major from Lough Corrib.  The systematic removal of weed used a range of tried and tested, as well as new and innovative, methods throughout the project. Focus was also placed on the exclusion of the plant from areas in Lough Corrib (and elsewhere in Ireland) where it is not yet established.
  • The impact on native communities in target water bodies of the removal of invasive species was closely monitored. This involved ecosystem-wide assessment and comparison of food webs and community structure in invaded and non-invaded areas.
  • High impact invasive species in the canals and Barrow Navigation. This involved systematic control and containment of a number of invasive species (including Nuttall’s pondweed, New Zealand pigmyweed and others) and the development of a mechanism for addressing recreational boating as a vector in dispersal corridors.
  • Evaluate the potential for biological control of aquatic invasive species in Ireland – carrying out the evaluation of biological control mechanisms for some of the high impact species and contribute to the guidelines on effective management of high impact aquatic species. This work was conducted in conjunction with biocontrol experts in UCD and elsewhere.
  • Remediation of native biotic communities.
  • Stakeholder engagement programme.
  • Education and awareness programme.
  • Dissemination programme.

Please visit www.finsconference.ie to find out more about the recent international conference that addressed key topics relating to freshwater invasive species and harmful pathogens.  This conference was the culmination of the CAISIE Project.

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