A non-native species of mussels has been recorded in the south east of the UK for the first time

The Environment Agency
is urging people to report discoveries of an invasive mussel species after it
was recorded for the first time in the UK earlier this month.

Known as the quagga
mussel, the non-native species was discovered in the south east by Environment
Agency teams carrying out routine water quality testing on River Wraysbury,
with the species subsequently being found in Wraysbury reservoir.

Officials are now
asking for the public’s help to stop it spreading, with the species having the
ability to filter out large quantities of nutrients, reduce native mussel populations
and affect freshwater ecosystems.

Anglers and boaters
are being urged to following the ‘check, clean, dry’ approach and thoroughly
clean any equipment. 

Since its discovery,
the Environment Agency has been working with partners including Thames Water,
Angling Trust and local angling clubs, to put biosecurity measures in place.

Work is now taking
place to monitor the River Thames and reservoirs in the local area to
investigate the extent of the problem and the distance that the quagga mussel
has spread.

The Environment
Agency’s Sarah Chare, said: “Invasive species – such as the quagga mussel -
cost the UK economy in excess of £1.8bn every year. And while Britain’s rivers
are the healthiest for over 20 years, rivers that harbour non-native species
could fall short of tough EU targets.

“The quagga mussel is
a highly invasive non-native species, affecting water quality and clogging up
pipes. We are monitoring the extent of its spread and working closely with
partners to ensure they are aware of it. 

The public are being
encouraged to report any sightings of the quagga mussel through
an online form

Angling Trust’s head
of freshwater Mark Owen said: “It’s vitally important that all water users
including anglers, take every possible precaution to stop this species
spreading throughout the UK.

“Quagga mussels could
do untold damage to freshwater and estuarine environment if they are allowed to
spread, which could have a significant impact on marine and freshwater fish

The quagga mussel
tends to be around the size of a human thumbnail but can grow to about 4cm.

Their larvae are not
visible to the naked eye, which makes drying a critical step in applying good