Crayfish in Essex

Did you know that several species of crayfish are found in UK freshwaters however, only a single species, the White clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes), is native!

Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust have been awarded £15,000 by the Essex and Suffolk Water Branch Out Environmental Fund to help with our project to investigate and understand the status of native and non-native crayfish in the rivers Blackwater, Chelmer and Colne.

ESRT will work in partnership with the Environment Agency to identify the presence of INNS (Signal Crayfish) in areas know to have previously held native, White-Clawed Crayfish. This will identify the areas of concern and inform management to protect the native, White-clawed crayfish.

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Native White-clawed crayfish
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Invasive Non-Native Signal crayfish

The white-clawed crayfish was once a widespread and common species in English and Welsh rivers but has suffered a decline of 50 – 80% across its European range in the last ten years and is classified as ‘endangered’ on the IUCN red list of threatened species and is at risk of global extinction. Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) that have been introduced to our freshwater habitats threaten our native species by outcompeting them for resources, damaging habitats and spreading disease.    

This well-needed funding from Essex & Suffolk Water will help our project so that we can investigate and understand the status of native and non-native crayfish, using data collection, across three catchments including the Blackwater, Chelmer and Colne. These schemes allow for local action to protect native species and offer a platform for further investment into environmental projects.

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