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River ‘could take years to recover after pollution’


West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan

West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan

Philip Magowan

West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan

A river in Co Tyrone where thousands of fish were killed will take years to recover from a suspected agricultural pollution incident, the secretary of the local angling association has said.

The kill of brown trout and young salmon along a five mile stretch of the Aughlish River between Dromore and Fintona was discovered over the bank holiday.

Terry Smithson, secretary of the Omagh Anglers described the loss of the stock as “devastating”.

He told Radio Foyle it was a shocking sight, adding: “We think very little will survive and from what we have seen, our initial thoughts are — there is nothing left.

“This will take more than two or three years for the river to recover from this.

“We have lost five years of salmon stock which cannot be replaced.”

West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan said he has written to the Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots asking him to investigate the polluting incident.

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Mr McCrossan said: “The significant fish kill that has taken place in the Aughlish River in Co Tyrone is a disaster for our local environment and biodiversity.

“At this stage it is believed that thousands of brown trout and juvenile salmon may have been killed after the Loughs Agency received a report of extensive pollution on Sunday evening.

“I have written to Minister Edwin Poots to ensure that a full investigation takes place and that those responsible are identified quickly.

“People the length and breadth of Tyrone not only appreciate our local environment and biodiversity, many rely on it for their jobs.

“It is important that this incident is addressed swiftly and robustly.”

When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, the Department of Agriculture, the Environment and Rural Affairs said it was a matter for the Loughs Agency.

A spokesman for the Loughs Agency said its investigation is ongoing.

He said: “Loughs Agency is currently attending the scene of an extensive pollution incident

“Loughs Agency Fishery Officers were alerted to the incident via a report on Sunday, May 2, 2021.

“Statutory water samples have been taken from a suspected agricultural source and submitted for laboratory analysis.

“Fishery Officers continue to monitor the river and will now work to quantify the extent of the fish kill.”

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