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From killer shrimp to Japanese knotweed – foreign invaders are being deported

Press Release

Wednesday 16 Apr 2014

From killer shrimp to Japanese knotweed and harlequin ladybirds – a host of foreign invaders with the capacity to wreak havoc on native species have been creeping towards these shores in recent times. But now, after years of uncertainty, they are to be officially banned from Europe.
‘Ireland’s economy has strong emphasis on agriculture, the land and waterways, so in particular it’s important that we keep these invasion species out,’ Nessa Childers, independent MEP, said from Strasbourg this morning where voting is taking place.
‘Many of these species pose very real threats to local industries – as well as to native species and even pets and children – and before now there was very little legislation in place to deal with the issue.’
She added: ‘It’s very important that we protect biodiversity, not least in an age where far more of us are travelling more regularly and further afield.’
Recently, the uninvited arrival of the tiger mosquito from Asia has been attributed to the increased trade in ornamental house plants, particularly bamboo. The species is lately prolific in Italy, Spain and southern France, but it has also migrated as far north as Ireland. It caused a 2007 outbreak of chikungunya fever in Ravenna in north-east Italy, where more than 200 people were infected and one woman died
Not all invasive species are such new arrivals, however. Sightings of the false black widow spider – whose bite can result in hospitalisation – have spiked in Ireland since last summer. That arachnid was first spotted in Britain more than one hundred years ago, after arriving on imported bananas.
‘We just didn’t have a standardised action-plan before today,’ Ms Childers also highlighted. ‘Now there will be a far more coherent programme to properly tackle alien species across the EU. Meanwhile, the planned early warning and rapid response systems will help keep associated costs as low as possible.’
In the last two decades, Europe has spent €12billion annually dealing with the 12,000-odd invasion species that are thought to live within the Union’s boundaries.
‘From later this year, official border checks will be stepped up, while it will shortly be illegal to possess, transport, sell or grow those species deemed to be of concern,’ Ms Childers further explained.