River pollution kills hundreds of fish

Fish kill in Glenavy last week
Fish kill in Glenavy last week

The Department of the Environment is launching prosecution proceedings after 400 fish were killed in Glenavy River at the weekend.

Following an investigation, the Department confirmed the source of the pollution was agricultural in nature.

A spokesperson for the Department of the Environment said: “On Friday evening NIEA received the first report from a member of the public,via the Water Pollution Hotline, that there was pollution in the Glenavy River. Officers, acting on behalf of NIEA, travelled immediately to the site in order to carry out an investigation, determine the environmental impact and confirm the report of dead fish. The NIEA officers initially observed a number of dead trout over a distance of approximately 500 metres in the Glenavy River.

“Further to the NIEA investigation, the polluting discharge was confirmed as an agricultural source. The source of the pollution was identified and samples have been taken with a view to initiating prosecution proceedings. Investigations are ongoing in conjunction with DCAL Inland Fisheries.”

A devastated Anthony McGarry of the Glenavy Conservation and District Angling Club claims that the full extent of the latest incident is still not known but fears that it will have a wider impact on the environment. “We have lost a few hundred in a section of the river,” he said.

The group organise regular river clean-ups to prevent pollution to the river but Mr McGarry said that education is the key. “We do not know the source of the pollution yet, that is for the agencies to detect, but educating the public is important,” he said. “The amount of debris that we discover in the river is shocking. People need to be educated. They have a natural resource on their doorstep which they should respect.

Lisburn Councillor James Tinsley said this was a major blow to the whole community.

“The group do a lot of good work and there has now been a lot of stock and a lot of money lost,” said Mr Tinsley.

Councillor Pat Catney added: “Anyone who would poison a river by pollution and cause a fish kill have no respect for the environment, local fishermen or residents of the area. This isn’t the first fish kill in the Glenavy area and it’s very disappointing to see it happen again.”

Councillor Robbie Butler commented: “This is clearly devastating for all those who use the Glenavy River. I wish the authorities well in their investigation and hope that measures can be put in place to ensure that it never happens again.”