Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland fish kill probe hampered by heavy rain but anglers fear impact will be devastating

By Staff Reporter

Heavy rain has hampered an investigation into a fish kill in Co Londonderry.

It is understood a significant number of fish died in the Altagoan River, which flows into the larger Moyola River, on Friday.

However, the number of fish killed has not yet been released.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has identified the cause of the fish kill as a slurry discharge as Inland Fisheries officials are assessing the extent of the impact on the fish population.

Members of the Moyola Angling Association have also been on site monitoring the damage caused.

It described the Moyola as "a major game fishery" with salmon, brown trout and dollaghan trout.

"In addition to the death of mature fish, many fish fry and invertebrate life, on which the fish feed, will have been destroyed," they said in a statement on Facebook.

Officials have been wading along a two-mile stretch of the Altagoan River across the weekend, but wet weather has made the task more difficult.

Norman Henderson of the NIEA said the rain has impeded their efforts.

"They face a few practical difficulties doing that (counting fish), in that there has been quite heavy rain overnight.

"It washes dead fish downstream, so it makes it more difficult to find," he said.

"The nature of rivers are that they are living systems and fish will migrate and replenish the river so it will recover, but it will take a wee while."

Local fisherman Ciaran Bradley said the incident represents a "significant blow to local anglers".

"It's totally devastating for myself and the club," he told the BBC.

"The club has been working for years to try to bring back salmon and dollaghan and trout into the system, and the system has improved this past 10 to 15 years."

Mr Bradley spoke of his concern about the impact of the incident on spawning fish.

"This is only a feeder stream - the Altagoan River - of the main River Moyola, and at this time of year trout and salmon and dollaghan come up here and spawn, and its just heartbreaking," he said.

The fish kill has angered local anglers, who have stressed that the pollution incident has destroyed a lot of the enhancement works they've carried out on the river in recent years.

One local angler told a local newspaper: "Absolutely disgusting. All the hard work is going to be undone."

This is the latest in a number of fish kill incidents across Northern Ireland this year.

In October more than 1,600 fish were killed in an incident in a Co Down river. The Northern Ireland Environment Agency was investigating the major kill at Carrig River near Newcastle.

And in August more than 1,000 fish were found dead along several miles of the River Faughan in Co Londonderry.

Belfast Telegraph


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