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Northern Ireland heatwave blamed for fish deaths in reservoir

The sunny weather in recent weeks may bring delight to many but fishermen in Co Down have been left high and dry by a fish kill they say has been caused by the soaring temperatures.

Dozens of trout have been found dead in Portavoe Reservoir, outside Donaghadee, with the rapidly-dropping water levels being blamed for a lack of oxygen.

Claims that a sluice gate being left open was the cause of the kill have been denied by a spokeswoman for the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.

“On June 18, DCAL officers investigated a report of dead fish at Portavoe Reservoir, Donaghadee. DCAL officers observed less than 20 dead adult trout,” she said.

“DCAL officers concluded that the cause of the dead fish was due to stress caused by a combination of low levels of water, increased temperature and a lack of oxygen in the water.

“This physical condition is known as furunculosis and is common at this time of year under similar physical conditions.

“The DCAL officers found no evidence of pollution at the reservoir.

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“On June 20 a Northern Ireland Environment Agency officer investigated the dead fish at Portavoe and found no evidence of pollution, but witnessed some distressed fish in the lower levels of the reservoir. The NIEA officer was in agreement with DCAL as to the cause of the dead fish.”

Drought warnings have been issued across the UK as the country suffers its driest start to the year for 46 years.

And with the good weather set to continue, a Co Down-based angling consultant said that continuing lack of rain could spell disaster for fish stocks here.

Mark Patterson predicted that fish would suffer if it doesn’t rain soon.

“Basically the sun promotes weed growth, the weeds consume the oxygen in the water and the fish suffocate,” he said.

“In a lake the size of Portavoe, just 40 acres and very shallow, this could wipe out the stock completely.

“If this dry spell continues, there are massive implications,” he warned.

“Salmon can’t get into the rivers to spawn and trout are suffering in drying-up lakes. We need rain and we need it soon.”

The Met Office said that there will be no let-up in the warm conditions in the next week.

“It has been an unusually dry start to the year, there has been a lot of high pressure and spring temperatures have been much higher than normal,” a spokesman said.

“There will be no let up, with no significant rainfall over the next week, it will be bright and sunny with temperatures in the low to mid 20s, which is above normal for the end of June, you would normally be looking at high teens at this time of year.”

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