SBRI Competition Summary: Managing aquatic Invasive Non Native Species (INNS) and improving the regeneration of native species and soil health following INNS control work. Background Invasive Non Native Species (INNS) affect economic interests and quality of life by fouling intakes and other structures and by damaging, destabilising or obstructing floodbanks, paths and other assets which can increase flood risk and soil erosion and prevent people from accessing or enjoying their local areas. Through predation and outcompeting other organisms they have major detrimental impacts on native species including commercial fisheries. While there are some general INNS management tools, more specific tools and techniques for aquatic INNS are relatively limited. This is particularly so for species like signal crayfish, Chinese mitten crab, Zebra and Quagga mussels and the ‘Killer shrimp’. We are looking for more effective control or management solutions that can be more widely applied – either for a specific species or a wider range of INNS. The natural environment is an extremely valuable resource. INNS are a direct threat to this with CABI estimating INNS costing the UK economy over £1.7 billion every year. The risks, impacts and subsequent management costs are expected to increase as global trade and climate change influences enable existing and new INNS to establish and spread more readily. The Competition partners (Natural Resources Wales, the Environment Agency, CABI, Welsh Government and DEFRA) are aware there may be tools or techniques within other sectors that could be developed to provide new and more effective aquatic INNS control solutions. Biocides have been successfully used to control terrestrial pests and more efficient, less environmentally damaging chemicals are now used but these advances have not been mirrored in the aquatic environment. Trapping has limited success especially as it’s difficult to know all organisms have been or will be caught and current techniques are potentially time-consuming and long-term activities. The Marine Pathways Project includes research into potential control measures for Chinese mitten crab but has not resulted in any solutions. The ‘Phone apps’ and online recording systems for ad hoc ‘citizen science’ reporting are less effective for routine monitoring or for early detection at potential entry points such as ships, ports and other transport nodes. Environmental DNA work has been used to detect other species but currently here are no current applications for aquatic INNS. While control or eradication may be successful for some plant INNS, these activities can leave ‘ecological gaps’ until treated habitats can readjust. This ‘gap’ presents its own risks by allowing other INNS or monocultures to fill it. Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan balsam and rhododendron degrade soil structure and reduce the ability of native plants to re-establish. Controlling these INNS can also result in degraded visual amenity and increased soil erosion for example. The Challenge We want to reduce or prevent the spread of and ideally eliminate existing INNS; we also want to reduce the likelihood of new INNS introductions. This includes controlling or eradicating INNS to protect specific areas such as riverbanks, waterways and other assets at risk of colonisation. We need to detect INNS before or at the point of entry into Wales and the UK, to improve detection of existing INNS and to quickly predict or map likely invasion areas and colonisation rates. We need to detect, map, remove or restrict spread and protect assets in ways that are easy to apply, have minimal environmental impact, are low-cost to use and consistently effective. There are a wide range of places where these needs apply including, rivers, lakes or estuaries and associated structures and equipment including water intakes, floodbanks, weirs, moorings, boat hulls and engines etc. We want to maximise the regeneration of native species and improve soil health following INNS control and we need effective tools or techniques to help with this. Key questions How can we reduce or prevent the spread of invasive species like signal crayfish or Quagga mussel or the others mentioned earlier? What tools or techniques can be developed for widespread use to more efficiently and effectively detect and contain or eradicate INNS or will improve the regeneration of native species? How could we protect or adapt places or assets including waterways, flood banks, intakes or boat hulls etc from colonisation? We will use a series of metrics and measures to identify whether solutions put forward would be commercially viable, sustainable, cost effective and efficient. Depending on the intended objectives of each proposal, applicants will need to demonstrate the above using a mix of metrics including for example: 1. Unit cost of proposed solution vs. current unit cost of management. (The measure a proposer should use for a river based solution could be for example cost/km and metric £GBP.) and/or 2. Success rate per unit vs. current success rate. (For example for a river-based solution this could be % success rate per km.) and/or 3. Length of time (eg months) for solution to achieve the objective vs. the length of time current techniques take. Successful outcomes from this Competition would mean more effective and targeted INNS management work and maximising the benefits from improved asset or site protection, reduced flood risk, improved amenities and stronger native species populations including commercial fisheries. We would expect to see applicants evidence at least two of the above together with baseline data for any current techniques which we would then use to monitor progress and assess eventual outcomes.