Local sailors are being called on to help protect waters and guard against the spread of invasive species such as the killer shrimp by doing a simple check, clean and dry of their equipment and clothing.

This was the message from the Biosecurity Minister Lord Gardiner on his visit to the Broads today when he met with student sailors from the University of East Anglia at Waveney and Oulton Broad Yacht Club, to see their work on the 'Check, Clean, Dry' campaign as part of The Green Blue's University Sailing Sustainability Challenge.

Biosecurity Minister Lord Gardiner said: "Invasive species threaten the survival of our country's native plants and animals and cost the economy at least £1.8 billion a year.

"Watersports enthusiasts play a key role in our battle against these threats, so it is great to see Norfolk and Suffolk sailors promoting how important it is to check, clean and dry clothing and equipment.

"Simple steps such as hosing down your boat and thoroughly drying your boots help to protect the future of our native species in an environment we want to enhance."

Get involved #InvasivesWeek

Lord Gardiner's visit comes as part of a wider push by government to promote Invasive Species Week, an annual awareness-raising campaign organised by Defra and the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) to get members of the public thinking about simple steps they can take to stop the spread of invasive species which threaten Britain's plants and animals.

For watersports enthusiasts, invasive aquatic species like floating pennywort and water primrose block up waterways, making navigation and paddling difficult and damaging boat engines and props. Many, such as the quagga mussel, can attach themselves to the hull of a boat, and others can be spread from tiny fragments, and survive out of water for over two weeks in damp conditions.  

FREE check, clean, dry kits

Sailing clubs around the country can find out how following three simple steps can reduce the risk of spreading invasive aquatic species by requesting a free Check Clean Dry kit from The Green Blue, the joint environment programme created by British Marine and the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), via info@thegreenblue.org.uk.

During his trip to the Broads, the Minister also visited Suffolk Wildlife Trust to hear how they and the Norfolk Mink Project are successfully reducing mink numbers and improving water vole and ground-nesting bird populations.

Earlier this week, Lord Gardiner launched the innovative new 'Asian hornet watch' app, which enables members of the public to become expert pest hunters using only their smartphones. The app is an innovative step in the fight against invasive species.

Invasive Species Week 2017 continues until 2 April.

The Green Blue is the joint environment initiative created by British Marine and the Royal Yachting Association to encourage a more sustainable recreational boating sector. To find out more about The Green Blue visit www.thegreenblue.org.uk