Wednesday 16 January 2019

Two major Irish reservoirs reopen to anglers

Stock Photo
Stock Photo

Ralph Riegel

TWO major Irish reservoirs are to re-open to anglers after fisheries officers admitted there was now minimal risk of cross-contamination from two other lakes where fish have been mysteriously dying.

The ESB-supervised Carrigadrohid and Inniscarra Reservoirs in Cork will re-open to anglers from 6am on Friday after having been off-limits for almost a month amid contamination concerns following the death of fish on The Lough in Cork city and Belvelly Lake.

Marine biologists now believe a mystery disease which threatened to wipe out fish stocks in several famous Cork lakes is a rare virus deadly to carp.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) confirmed that scientists at the Fish Health Unit at the Irish Marine Institute have advised that the sample carp taken from The Lough and Belvelly Lake in Cork have all tested positive for Carp Edema Virus (CEV).

IFI has consulted with the ESB and the decision was made to now re-open the two major reservoirs to fishermen.

"IFI held an operational meeting with the ESB at Inniscarra (on Monday). The ESB are considering IFI’s proposals in relation to long-term biosecurity measures at Carrigadrohid and Inniscarra Reservoirs and accepted IFI’s recommendation to reopen the ESB waters for angling effective 6am on Friday (June 1)," an IFI spokesperson said.

"This decision was made on the basis that The Lough and Belvelly will have been closed for four weeks since May 3 and remain closed, therefore greatly minimising the risk of accidental cross-contamination from anglers who may have fished the affected waters prior to May 3."

Carp mortalities appear to have ceased at The Lough in Cork, with none reported over the weekend.

Since the first fish deaths were noted, a total of 855 fish have died.

There were 23 dead fish reported from Belvelly Lake over the weekend bringing the total there to 322.

Angling will remain suspended at both locations for the foreseeable future.

CEV is a poxvirus which causes a disease known as ‘koi sleepy disease’ in both koi and common carp.

However, experts warned that their investigation remains ongoing.

"While tests are ongoing and further tests are carried out on the CEV detected, this is being treated as a ‘suspect positive’ and is not confirmed as the causative agent of the mortalities until all tests have been completed," an IFI spokesman said.

IFI have now advised that strict bio-security protocols including non-fishing orders and careful equipment contamination be adhered to so as to prevent any further outbreaks.

All dead fish are being carefully removed from the two Cork lakes and are being disposed of in a secure manner.

Fears had mounted that the mystery infection could spread to other valuable waterways.

IFI are 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 confirm and contain the infection.

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 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.

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 connected to the large quantities of bread being thrown into the water for wildlife to feed on.

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