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Monthly News Bulletin

Back to 2004 News Archive

Seaweed Invasion in Lochryan

AN invader seaweed has been found in Lochryan, the first time it has been seen in Scotland. Now efforts may be made to try to stop it spreading to up the west coast.

Sargassum muticum to give it its proper name, or Jap or wireweed as it is known, was first spotted in February by a team from the environmental consultancy Royal Haskoning while carrying out survey work in connection with the new ferry facilities to be provided at Cairnryan.

They alerted Scottish Natural Heritage and their Maritime Group have confirmed the seaweed has become established at several other sites around the loch.

How it came to be here is a mystery.

It is believed it could have become detached from the hulls of ocean-going vessels, discharged from the ballast water of such ships or to have travelled on oysters, shellfish or related materials imported from Japan of Canada.

The seaweed is now widespread along the English south coast and extends to the Welsh coast and Northern Ireland. It is known to cause damage through fouling boats, clogging water intakes and smothering other native seaweed species once it becomes established.

It can also cause serious problems to shellfishing equipment - including the oyster industry in the loch.

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