The future of native crayfish in Europe: How to make the best of a bad situation?
Wild populations of crayfish in Europe include five native species and four species introduced from North America. Three of the native species are considered as ‘vulnerable’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. Prospects for the future of crayfish in Europe appear different, depending on which crayfish group one considers. For the alien species the situation is good as they steadily increase their distribution, whilst for the native species the situation in general is very bad. The alien species are competitive superior and also carry the crayfish plague which kills the European species. This paper looks at the future from the native species point of view and focuses on necessary management actions and measures. Actions include: restore aquatic habitats, determine and monitor crayfish distribution and abundance, establish ‘Native Crayfish Areas’, secure fulfilment of national crayfish protection aims in different management authorities and levels, and prevent spread of alien crayfish. The spread of alien crayfish is the main threat to the native, European crayfish. The different actions are discussed and elucidated with a number of examples.