EFSA reviews apple snail threat

EFSA has reviewed the current scientific literature on the biology and ecology of the apple snail (Pomacea maculata and P.canaliculata), and refined its assessment of the potential for establishment of the snail in the EU.

The latest EFSA opinion follows a previous piece of work, published in 2012, which used a preliminary climate matching exercise to identify which parts of Europe are suitable for the establishment of the apple snail. The new opinion uses a population dynamics model to calculate more precisely the potentially endangered area in terms of snail distribution and density. It concludes that the at-risk area is confined to southern Europe ­– Spain, southern France, most of Italy, Greece, and the Balkans up to the latitude of the Danube river.

The apple snail, one of the largest freshwater snails, is a serious rice pest that can devastate the flora and fauna of natural wetlands. In 2010 the organism invaded rice fields in the Ebro Delta in Spain. Before then, it was not known to occur in the EU and was not regulated.

The Scientific Opinion is a precursor to a full environmental risk assessment of the apple snail in the EU, to be published by EFSA in 2014.