Crayfish are a source of local food!
There are six non-native species of crayfish in England and Wales but the American Trigger Crayfish is widely established in British rivers, canals lakes. This crayfish is larger than the native species and has destroyed the natives in many places.
In the south of England the native crawfish has totally disappeared. In addition to the destruction of other crayfish the trigger crayfish excavates burrows in the banks of the rivers etc in which it hibernates in winter. It returns to activity when the water temperature rises above 10C. The damage caused by its excavations and these are a major concern to river authorities.
It has been established that the crayfish is living in both the river Loddon and the Basingstoke Canal. Access to river and canal are restricted and permission will need to be sought from land owners or others with fishing rights. Local fishing clubs maybe able to help with gaining access or give advice who could give access.
Approval from the Environment Agency is required to take crayfish from a river with details of where, when and why you wish to catch them, the species to be trapped and the type and number of traps to be used. The type of trap to be used is strictly controlled and when approval is received tags which are to be fixed to the traps and a catch report form will be provided. The need to have special traps is so that the large trigger crayfish will be trapped whereas the other, smaller species, if any, will be able to escape. An accurate record of how many crayfish which and where they were caught must be kept and at the end of the period of consent the catch report form must be returned to the Environment Agency.
A list of approved manufacturers of suitable traps and guidance on trapping crayfish is available from: www.defra.gov.uk/aahm/Guide-Crayfish-Trapping-English.pdf
Crayfish are a popular choice with restaurants and Locally Hotels such as Tylney Hall and Basingstoke Country Hotel among others are likely to be interested in a regular supply.
We are interested to hear from anyone who has experience of catching crayfish from the Lodden or Basingstoke canal.