The Independent today has a most worrying article, it claims the discovery in Britain of a 'killer shrimp' that could wipe out the native brown shrimp and thus devastate the 'potted shrimp' industry in Southport. The paper reports:
A particularly voracious and aggressive predator, Dikerogammarus villosus preys on a range of invertebrates, particularly native shrimps and young fish, sometimes causing their extinction. It tends to dominate its habitat, killing and maiming unselectively.
Its aggression – it bites and shreds its prey to death but often leaves it uneaten – is matched by its versatility, and it can survive fluctuations in temperature, salinity and oxygen levels. As a result its numbers have grown rapidly in the long rivers of western Europe in the past 20 years, damaging smaller species and ruining ecological chains.
The area around Southport and Formby is also renowned for another endangered species-the red squirrel. The National Trust reserve at Freshfied has done excellent work in supporting the habitat and combating the encroachment of the more aggressive grey.
I raise this topic because of an interesting conversation I had with a couple of constituents about the management of the sand dune network at Birkdale. I must stress that this was a wholly rational conversation unlike some folk who have approached me about this topic!
The first concern that the couple raised was that the beach management team were preparing the area for housing development and that opening up the dunes to wider access would allow them to proceed without further consent. Well they were talking to the person who led the campaign to have Crossens and Marshside Marsh included in the green belt back in the early 1980's so as to prevent development there and to open the area up to 'green tourism'. I'm delighted to say that the RSPB Reserve developed on the site has been a great success. I am confident that no plans exist to build on the dunes.
Their second concern, and here we return to the killer shrimp, was that if nature allowed the sea buckthorn to flourish on the dunes then it should be left alone. I think not. That thinking would allow mink to take over our waterways, the shrimp to be devoured by its killer cousin and all manner of devastation. It is rather like the economy, these habitats need to be managed and not just left to their own devices