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Thursday 13 December 2018

'Farmers must be extremely careful' - Investigation under way after major fish kill in Mayo

Inland Fisheries Officers assess the death toll.
Inland Fisheries Officers assess the death toll.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Inland Fisheries Ireland is calling on the agricultural sector to be “extremely careful” in current hot weather after a major fish kill in Mayo.

On the evening of Wednesday June 6 officers of Inland Fisheries Ireland received a report from a member of the public in Claremorris, Co Mayo regarding a fish kill on the Ballygowan River (one of the prime spawning tributaries of the Robe River), which flows into Lough Mask.

Investigations are still ongoing. However, 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. Local reports noted fish, primarily wild brown trout, in an agitated state in the river on Tuesday evening 5 June.

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.

Regretfully, over a thousand wild brown trout from 0-4 years old have been removed dead from the river. Other fish mortalities included stone loach and crayfish.

Given the extent of the damage to the river it will take some years for this stretch affected to make a full recovery.

Greg Forde, Head of Operations at Inland Fisheries Ireland, said “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.”

Water samples have been taken for analysis and investigations are ongoing.

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