White-clawed crayfish surveys

The white-clawed crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes is Ireland’s only native species of crayfish. White-clawed crayfish will occupy a variety of aquatic habitats including streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, reservoirs and water-filled quarries. Although abundant in some waterbodies, this species  has seen a dramatic decline in population in recent decades. It is now listed on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. This decline has led to the white-clawed crayfish being protected under both Irish, UK and European law.

Our staff are currently undertaking a number of white-clawed crayfish surveys. These surveys will inform Environmental Impact Statements and Natura Impact Statements for a number of large-scale projects including road schemes and major wind energy developments. ECOFACT is Ireland’s largest independent ecological consultancy and freshwater ecological surveys are a core part of our work. We are national experts in in the ecology and management of the Annex II white-clawed crayfish, and indeed are increasingly working in the UK also where we have undertaken a number of surveys for this species.

The photos below are all from ECOFACT white-clawed crayfish surveys during June/July 2013.

White-clawed crayfish surveys are undertaken during the period June/July to September/October. It is best to avoid May and early June (other than torching at night), where the females may be carrying young that they may shed when caught or handled. However, as experienced operators we have also received licences to work during these periods and handle crayfish. White-clawed crayfish are protected so all surveys require a licence from the NPWS.

We are currently at the start of a very busy season, but have already completed surveys on behalf of the National Roads Authority, Waterways Ireland and Roads Service Northern Ireland. We are just about to commence a major survey (including crayfish surveys) for one of the largest wind energy projects ever proposed  in Ireland.

White-clawed crayfish typically occupies cryptic habitats under rocks and submerged debris, among tree roots,  macrophytes and even car tyres (a favourite!), although it usually emerges to forage for food. Survey method we use include hand search/snorkel surveys, baited trap surveys, refuge trap surveys, sweep netting, night time torch survey. Translocation involves moving the white-clawed crayfish from the area to be affected into safe areas to avoid any negative impacts from the development works. This will require the identification of a suitable receptor site. Should a suitable site not be identified ECOFACT staff can design and creation of suitable habitat.

So if you need a crayfish survey completed in Ireland or the UK, please contact us at info@ecofact.ie. Likewise, if you require expert aquatic ecologists on your EIA team for any project please contact us.

Also, make sure to visit our main website www.ecofact.ie.

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