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Help prevent the spread of zebra mussels

Urgent action is required to prevent the spread of zebra mussels to loughs, rivers and canals in the Eastern Region. The Shannon catchments, Lough Erne and many other Irish waterways are already infested with this pest. Zebra mussels enter new areas when they are attached to objects such as boat hulls and fishing equipment.

Zebra Mussels

What Are Zebra Mussels?

What you can do:

If You Own a Boat:

Dry out boats for 4 weeks. Zebra mussels (adults and larvae) will eventually die once removed from water. Ideally, store boats in dry conditions where mussels can dry out.

Scrape down and steam clean your boat following removal from water. High pressure steam cleaning will remove the majority of the mussels and kill the remainder. The temperature needs to exceed 40°C. Steam cleaning facilities are available at most filling stations for a small fee however; it should be ensured that the wastewater from the steam cleaning facility does not drain back into an uninfected waterway.

Clean outboard motors. Flushing removes cooling water that may contain larvae. Attached individuals can be removed manually. Storing outboard engines will drain much of the water, then leave to dry for at least 3 weeks. Heavily fouled motors should be serviced.

If you buy a second hand boat have it cleaned.





Problems associated with zebra mussels

Irreversible Changes to Ecology

Zebra mussels can filter as much as 1 litre of water per day through their gills. They remove phytoplankton, small zooplankton and bacteria amongst other things. As a result of this activity, the food web of their new habitat is changed. Studies have shown that this leads to reductions in different populations of fish. Zebra mussels attach onto the shells of swan mussels (Anodonta sp.), preventing them from feeding, resulting in death of the swan mussels.

Biofouling Costs Money

Zebra mussels can have a serious economic effect at facilities that depend on water intake by blocking pipes. They will attach to any hard surface in the waters in which they occur, quickly spreading and covering the surface. Preferred surfaces include stone, wood, concrete, iron/steel, aluminium, plastics and fiberglass. As a result, boats and water treatment plants can be damaged.

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