The white-clawed crayfish, Austropotamobius pallipes, in Great Britain and Ireland with particular reference to its conservation in Great Britain

Holdich, D.M.; Rogers, W.D.

Bulletin Francais de la Peche et de la Pisciculture 1997(347): 597-616


DOI: 10.1051/kmae/1997050
Accession: 009638541

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Great Britain and Ireland still contain some of the best stocks of Austropotamobius pallipes in Europe despite the fact that since the early 1980s many populations have been devastated by the effects of crayfish plague and competitive exclusion by non-native crayfish. Austropotamobius pallipes is the only crayfish native to Great Britain and Ireland but in recent years a number of introductions of foreign crayfish have been made into Great Britain, for aquacultural, culinary and aquarist purposes. This has resulted in four non-native crayfish species becoming established in the wild, where two, Pacifastacus leniusculus and Astacus leptodactylus, have formed large, harvestable populations, particularly in southern England. Although A. pallipes in Great Britain and Ireland is protected by national and European legislation, this has not been enough to protect it from crayfish plague and, in Great Britain, from non-native crayfish. In an attempt to protect A. pallipes even further, legislation has been implemented in England, Scotland and Wales which bans the keeping of all non-native crayfish, except where they are being prepared for human consumption. P. leniusculus is, however, exempt from this ban in certain parts of southern Great Britain due to its high preponderance on crayfish farms and in the wild. Ireland already bans the introduction of non-native crayfish. It is hoped that the new legislation, plus the heightened profile which A. pallipes has recently been given in Great Britain, will ensure its future survival.