Northern Ireland

Six Mile Water: Dozens of fish dead near Ballyclare, County Antrim

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Media captionJim Gregg from Ballynure Angling Club said the fish kill was "devastating"

Dozens of fish have died after a fish kill in the Six Mile Water river in County Antrim.

The fish were discovered dead on Tuesday near Ballyclare. The cause of their deaths is not yet known.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) was notified and has begun an investigation.

Jim Gregg, of the Ballynure Angling Club, said the fish kill was "devastating" and had occurred at the ideal spawning time.

"The anglers were made aware of this at approximately 10 o'clock this morning," he told the BBC.

"We've removed approximately 30 to 40 fish that we have found in the shallows, lying dead.

"The water levels are quite significantly high, to suggest that there are an awful lot more fish dead that we can't see and that have possibly been washed further downstream."

'Pollution hotline'

The NIEA is an government agency within Northern Ireland's Department of Environment (DoE).

In a statement, a DoE spokesperson said the incident was reported to the agency via its water pollution hotline at 11:15 GMT on Wednesday.

"A NIEA water quality inspector was immediately tasked to the area to investigate the report and determine the environmental impact. The NIEA investigation has not yet identified any immediately obvious source or symptoms of pollution," the statement added.

"Investigations are on-going to determine whether there has been any polluting discharge to the watercourse, including collected samples from potential sources of pollution in the area."

Staff from the Department for Culture Arts and Leisure (DCAL)'s Inland Fisheries Group were also called to the site to assess the number of fish affected.

Approximately 50 dead fish have been recovered so far, but the DoE warned the number could rise.

In 2011, hundreds of fish were found dead in the Six Mile Water river.