Minister impressed by local effort to tackle crayfish issue

Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse held a meeting in New Galloway this week to address concerns over crayfish in Loch Ken.

Following concern and campaigns by local people worried about the rapid spread of the crayfish species in the waters, the minister visited teh region on Thursday where he also spent time at the new Kirroughtree Visitor Centre near Newton Stewart before meeting the people of the Stewartry.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Wheelhouse said: “I organised this meeting for a chance to listen to the concerns of local people. It was well attended which shows the strength of feeling on this issue.

“I am conscious of the concerns, from those at the meeting, that the presence of crayfish has the potential to diminish the appeal of Dumfries and Galloway as an angling destination – but this area, with its stunning scenery and abundance of wildlife has so much to offer and, of course, there remain reports of healthy stocks of pike, perch bream and other course fishing species.

“I have been impressed by efforts made locally to increase awareness of good practices amongst water users. The Fisheries Trusts, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and many others will continue working together to raise awareness of appropriate biosecurity measures that people can take to avoid spreading crayfish and other freshwater invasive species through campaigns like Check Clean Dry.

“However, in response to the concerns raised by stakeholders we will undertake a study of fish stocks over the next 10 months and propose to explore opportunities for physical barriers to contain the migration of crayfish along watercourses, formalise multi-agency efforts engaging local stakeholders in how best to adjust the local economy, control crayfish numbers and promote angling in Dumfries and Galloway region.”