Thursday 20 June 2019

Desperate efforts to identify mystery disease that threatens to wipe out fish stocks at famous Irish lakes

Fish have been mysteriously dying at The Lough in Cork
Photo: Google Maps
Fish have been mysteriously dying at The Lough in Cork Photo: Google Maps

Ralph Riegel

MARINE biologists are desperately trying to identify a mystery disease which has threatened to wipe out fish stocks in several famous Cork lakes.

The investigation has been accelerated amid reports that fish are now dying in a lake outside Cobh - just days after fish mysteriously started dying in the famous Lough in Cork city.

Fears are mounting that the mystery infection could spread to other valuable waterways.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) are now liaising with Cork City Council, Cork Co Council and expert marine biologists at University College Cork (UCC) and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) in a bid to identify the infection.

Fish first appeared sick and dying at The Lough last week, a total of almost 400 carp have since been found dead or dying.

However, fish similarly sick and dying have been found at Belvelly Lake outside Cobh.

Those fish appear to have the same type of illness at the dead carp in The Lough.

IFI official Sean Long said the matter was being taken very seriously.

"There is a white fungal growth appearing on the scales on the side of the fish," he said.

"That could be a secondary issue or it could be part of the problem."

Angling groups have expressed alarm at the implications of the mystery illness spreading to other waterways used by recreational fishermen.

Anglers have now been asked to carefully clean and disinfect any equipment used in either The Lough or Belvelly Lake.

All fishing on The Lough has now been suspended.

Test samples have been sent for analysis from several dead fish and it is hoped these will confirm the precise illness involved.

Nine years ago, birds began mysteriously dying at The Lough.

The deaths began in July 2009 and involved dozens of swans and ducks, those deaths were later blamed on a form of botulism linked to toxins being stirred up from the mud at the bottom of the lake and linked to the large quantities of bread being thrown into the water for wildlife to feed on.

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