He has become the man on the frontline in the war against a 3cm menace regarded by anglers as a dire threat to the Broads’ fish stocks.

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William Burchnall, 32, has been appointed by the Broads Authority to the new post of wetland biodiversity officer and the focus of his attention will be curbing the spread of the voracious killer shrimp - dikerogammarus villosus - which feeds on a host of native species, from damselfly nymphs to water boatmen and small fish.

Since the shrimp was first discovered in Barton Broad in the spring, its spread has been monitored down the River Ant into the Bure and, last month, it showed up for the first time in Wroxham Broad.

In a high profile campaign, Mr Burchnall will be visiting sailing, rowing and angling clubs and making contact with all other Broads-users from water skiers to windsurfers.

He said: “Human activity is the most likely cause of spreading killer shrimps and it is vitally important Broads users ‘check, clean and dry’ any equipment or clothing that has been in contact with the water.

“The killer shrimps found in Wroxham Broad were very low in number and could only have got there from Barton Broad or the River Ant through human influence on a boat or on someone’s kit.”

Mr Burchnall, of Green Street, Hoxne, near Diss, stressed the fact that isolated parts of the Broads, such as the Trinity Broads near Great Yarmouth, and neighbouring beauty spots such as the River Wensum could still be protected from the shrimp if people were vigilant.

He said: “Ahead of the pike fishing season starting on October 1, I’ll be releasing more promotional material, but I would like to acknowledge the efforts local pike fishermen have already been making to stop the spread.”

Mr Burchnall, who is chairman of the National Schools Sailing Association, gained experience of tackling the shrimp last year when he was organising a major youth sailing event on Grafham Water, in Cambridgeshire.

The lake was the first place the invasive shrimp was found in the UK in 2010 and he had to ensure all the young sailors were aware of the techniques to combat it.

He said studies on the impact of the shrimp on the continent, where it has spread from Eastern Europe, showed it could lead to species such as damselfly becoming virtually extinct in certain areas.

Its long-term impact was not 100pc clear but the concern was that the shrimp’s predation of invertebrates could affect the stock of fish which also feed on them.

Mr Burchnall, who in his third day in post, devised a method of steam cleaning the Barton Broad weed harvester to eradicate killer shrimps, said that adhering to ‘check, clean and dry’ would also prevent the spread of other invasive species such as floating pennywort and Himalayan balsam.

Any Broads users wanting advice or a meeting with Mr Burchnall are asked to call him on 01603-756003 or email him at will.burchnall@broads-authority.gov.uk

6 comments

  • The 'killer shrimps' are a well known menace in Eastern Europe, Black Sea, Danube et al. They are small in size. Most likely they came in with a visiting boat to the Broads.... I doubt the BA will be able to control them yet. Only isolation and filtration will work. Big job though.. it can be done but BA needs to speak to experts ;-)

    Report this comment

    Dave01

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

  • Sounds like NCFC are spreading their wings!!

    Report this comment

    biglingers

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • Why is anyone surprised that the shrimp have got from Barton to Wroxham? Have my eyes been deceiving me all summer or are there not hundreds of holiday hire boats going backwards and forward every week through out the whole broads water system? Are they being lifted out and hosed down every few miles to get rid of stray bits of weed carrying the shrimp? Geese, swans, cormorants, plenty of them about-can shrimp larvae or eggs not be trapped in their feathers ? Obviously worth a gppd try to stop the spread but if shrimps had stables...

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

  • How long until they are top of the housing list?

    Report this comment

    fester1902

    Thursday, September 13, 2012

  • Do they taste good? Why not eat them?

    Report this comment

    Paul Morley

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

  • What a waste of time and money, there is no way they will gain any control over the killer shrimp as it is here and here to stay unless nature lends a hand. We have heard all this before on Zebra Mussels, Red Signal Crayfish, Himalayan Balsam, Knotweed and a whole host of other invasive species. But take note, get used to it they are here to stay like it or not and stop throwing money at pointless exercises.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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