Note by Spanish delegation on case of zebra mussels for consideration in connection with proposal for concerted action on invasive alien species (link)

October 23, 2006

Brussels, 20 October 2006

Full text of Document 14142/06
Suite of documents 14142/06

Brussels, 18 October

NOTE from General Secretariat to delegations

Subject: Invasive alien species: proposal for concerted action within the European Union

Delegations will find attached a note from the Spanish delegation on the above subject, which will be dealt with under "Other business" at the Environment Council meeting on 23 October 2006.

INVASIVE ALIEN SPECIES: PROPOSAL FOR CONCERTED ACTION WITHIN THE EUROPEAN UNION

[...]

Information on the problem due to the recent appearance of the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) in Spanish continental waters

Zebra mussels were first detected in Spain, in the lower course of the Ebro River, in the Riba-Roja-d'Ebre reservoir's waters, during the summer of 2001. Shortly afterwards, the species was also found in another reservoir on the same river, namely the Mequinenza reservoir.

Following discovery of the problem, the Conféderación Hidrogáfica del Ebro, the organisation responsible for management of the river basin, set up a working group bringing together the Comunidades Autónomas and ENDESA, the company running the Ascó nuclear power plant. In order to prevent the zebra mussel from spreading, a number of preventive measures were put in place, including legislation making it compulsory to clean the hulls of any boats plying in Ebro reservoirs, in addition to awareness campaigns designed to alert the population which were especially targeted at those communities most affected.

Despite these measures, the zebra mussel's distribution area in the Ebro has currently spread to cover a major part of the river, leaving only its headwaters uncontaminated. The mussel was further detected in two places along another river basin, namely the Cuenca Hidrográfica del Júcar.

Apart from the major environmental and economic problems regularly caused by this species, its presence in Spain is posing a serious threat to the survival of Spanish freshwater bivalve molluscs, particularly the severely threatened endemic Margaritifera auricularia, currently only to be found in a few places along the Ebro basin.

In order to analyse the situation regarding this species in Europe and to compare control experience with countries that have been confronted with the zebra mussel for a much longer period of years, a seminar was held in Zaragoza last week on strategies for action in zebra-mussel infested waters.

The seminar's conclusions are attached.

I would like to take this opportunity of informing you that as part of Expo Zaragoza 2008 (14 June to 14 September 2008), an international congress will be held in Zaragoza on invasive alien species linked to continental aquatic systems, and it is my pleasure here and now to invite you all to attend.

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