As part of our duty to biodiversity, AG joined forces with a local rivers conservation group, Ballinderry River Enhancement Association, in a bid to conserve native White-clawed Crayfish disappearing from the Ballinderry River and Lough Neagh Wetlands.
The White-clawed Crayfish (Austropotamobius Pallipes) was once found in rivers, streams and lakes across western and central Europe, however, pollution, damage to habitat and the introduction of non-native crayfish species has put the White-clawed Crayfish on an ever growing list of globally threatened species.
Numbers in the rest of the British Isles have fallen dramatically, as it is under attack from the bigger and more aggressive Signal crayfish introduced from the USA. Northern Ireland remains free of the invader species, however, the White-clawed Crayfish still faces threats from water pollution and destruction of its habitat. The non-intensive breeding programme aims to re-establish traditional White-clawed Crayfish numbers in the local area and to ensure sustainable populations for the future.
At our Pomeroy sand and gravel site (Evishanoran) we have created an innovative ‘habitat bay’ designed for a unique breeding and reintroduction programme. The lake in the sand pit was chosen because of its naturally alkaline water which provides perfect conditions for Crayfish.
Over 150 native Ballinderry White-clawed Crayfish have been introduced to the lake’s specially constructed ‘habitat bay’ in order to establish an isolated and protected breeding population. Each year, juvenile crayfish are collected from the lake by BREA’s fish hatchery team and reintroduced to newly restored habitat in the Ballinderry River and Lough Neagh Wetlands, ensuring the sustainability of populations in the river and wetlands.
The White-clawed Crayfish have been breeding successfully and are even finding new homes in the company’s home building bricks.
The Ballinderry White-clawed Crayfish Breeding and Reintroduction Project is a Ballinderry River Enhancement Association project in association with Ballinderry Fish Hatchery Ltd and AG.
The project is jointly funded by:
The project is supported by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), Environment and Heritage Service (DoE), Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (Inland Fisheries) and Quarry Products Association Northern Ireland.
To our knowledge, the Ballinderry White-clawed Crayfish Breeding and Reintroduction Project is the only conservation project for White-clawed Crayfish on the island of Ireland.