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Agricultural effluent run-off kills over 1,000 trout

News

Anton McNulty

Farmers have been asked to be extremely careful after over 1,000 wild brown trout were removed dead from a river near Claremorris as a result of agricultural effluent run-off.
The devastating fish kill was discovered in the Ballygowan River last Wednesday evening when officers of Inland Fisheries Ireland found the dead fish floating on the river after a report was made by members of the public.
While investigations are still ongoing, it is believed that the fish kill was the result of effluent of agricultural origin although the precise source has not as yet been identified. The damage caused by the pollution was such that it will take some years for this stretch affected to make a full recovery.
The previous evening reports noted fish, primarily wild brown trout, in an agitated state in the river. Greg Forde, Head of Operations at Inland Fisheries Ireland, asked farmers to be extremely careful because the current weather conditions were ripe for water contamination
“Currently, water levels are at an all-time low and water temperatures are getting very high for trout and salmon. These factors combined can mean that a small amount of polluting matter can have devastating results.
“Inland Fisheries Ireland is calling on all farmers and silage contractors, in particular, to be extremely careful in the current conditions to ensure that no effluent is released near drains, streams and rivers, and silage clamps are properly bunded. Extreme care should be taken when spreading slurry to avoid all water courses in order to protect our valuable natural rivers and streams.”
The Ballygowan River is one of the prime spawning tributaries of the Robe River, which flows into Lough Mask. Inland Fisheries Ireland confirmed that the dead wild brown trout removed from the river were aged up to four years.
The stream where the mortalities occurred currently shows no sign of enrichment, and it is therefore probable that some polluting matter of a transient nature passed through the river and has since dissipated downstream.
The damage caused by the pollution was such that it will take some years for this stretch affected to make a full recovery. Other fish mortalities included stone loach and crayfish.
Water samples have been taken for analysis and investigations are ongoing.

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