UP TO 2,000 fish have died outside Ennistymon prompting both Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Environment Protection Agency to commence investigations into the matter.

A rusty red colour was first spotted on the Ballymacraven River last week with the alarm raised with Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) on Tuesday last, by Thursday hundreds of dead fish were visible and this figure has continued to rise as the days have passed.

Spreading for 2.6km in length, the fish kill occurred on the Ballymacraven River where it meets the Inagh River in North Clare. Species of fish discovered dead include a large number of eel, along with salmon, trout, rudd and flounder, of all ages.

IFI have described it as “a serious incident”. After they were informed of an ecological issue, they undertook water sampling to assess the quality of the water. “IFI is not in a position to confirm the specific cause of this fish kill at this early stage, but our investigations are continuing. IFI, the State agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats, reminds the public they can report instances of fish kills, pollution or illegal fishing nationwide by calling its confidential 24/7 number, 0818 34 74 24,” a spokesperson outlined.

As part of the investigations, Uisce Éireann’s water treatment plant on the Kilfenora Rd in Ennistymon is to be examined, particularly its processes and outputs over the past week.

Fisheries Environmental Officer with IFI Jane Gilleran said “nothing on this scale has happened before”. She explained, “This is the most significant fish kill in my 16 years with IFI that I’ve been working in the Shannon and southern regions. In terms of the wider impact, obviously it has very significant impacts to the fish because we’ve lost probably the last three years of production of salmon. And as you know, salmon returned to the river that they were spawned in to spawn themselves, so potentially we’ve lost salmon. It’ll have really significant long-term impacts for salmon on this stretch and for eels”.

Ennistymon fisherman, Paudie Fahy was among those to contact IFI. “I have never seen more than the odd few fish dead in any one time or place, I’ve never see anything like it myself, it is shocking,” he told The Clare Echo.

Paudie feared that the impacts could be long-lasting. “The people into the fishing are raging, we’re not able to fish that river for salmon because there is such low stock, it has wiped three years’ worth of stock, there is also the risk now that the fish could be laying eggs into toxic gravel, they might never recover”.

He added, “People are outraged at the destruction to the eco system but also from a health and safety point of view, this stretch is very popular among walkers. If it can do that much damage to the fish, there could be other consequences”.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of the Clare Joint Policing Committee, Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) lamented the fish kill given the “huge work” done in the area by ecologists and farmers. Director of Services with Clare County Council, Leonard Cleary confirmed that the environment section of the local authority is working with IFI on their investigation.

Community water officer, Ruairí Ó Conchúir who was among those credited for this “huge work” expressed his dismay. He labelled it as “very sad and disheartening to see such a massive loss of fish coupled with the related ecosystem impacts in the beautiful Ballymacraven river. Totally devastating for the local community who care for, and love, this river so much”.

Clare TD, Violet-Anne Wynne (IND) described the situation as “deeply concerning and could seriously affect the county’s ecology and tourism”. She stated, “The destructive effects of pollution on marine life have never been more apparent than now. Species of fish once thought tolerant to pollution are among the dead. We urgently need more action on water pollution before this becomes a regular occurrence”.

Chair of the North Clare branch of the Labour Party, Denis Vaughan described the pollution as “a tragedy”. He stated, “Ennistymon has always treasured this marvellous waterway that flows through the town. It gives the area a lot of its distinct character. Alongside the Rivers Inagh and Tattons, by the Falls Hotel, there is a very popular walk known locally as The Glen.
For local people this pollution is really bad news. It comes at the beginning of the summer when water levels are falling. That will make it harder for the Inagh to recover. This matter does not help the booming tourism trade”.

Vaughan added, “This sad episode further enhances our claim that pollution must be seriously addressed in North Clare. It has become a matter of urgency”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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