Northern Ireland

Probe into fish transport as Woodburn trout die

NI Water said it had notified the relevant external agency, DAERA's marine and fisheries division Image copyright Chris Campbell
Image caption NI Water said it had notified the relevant external agency, DAERA's marine and fisheries division

Officials are looking at whether faulty equipment used to transport fish contributed to the deaths of scores of trout found in public angling lakes.

The investigation started after 43 fish were found dead in a reservoir at Woodburn near Carrickfergus, County Antrim.

It happened days after 1,000 brown trout were released into the lake.

NI Water said it had notified the relevant external agency, DAERA's marine and fisheries division.

DAERA said it had become aware of fish dying in a number of lakes stocked by departmental officials.

"It is assessing whether the equipment supplying oxygen to the fish being transported may have been faulty possibly reducing the condition of some of the fish being stocked," said a spokesman.

The spokesman said brown trout were also susceptible to warm water conditions after a period of settled weather which reduced the level of dissolved oxygen.

"Lakes can stratify and the top layer of water becomes deoxygenated. This can be sufficient to cause natural fish kills."

Departmental officials have been on site over recent days and had seen fish jumping and being caught at Woodburn.

Image copyright Chris Campbell
Image caption NI Water stressed there was no evidence of any other pollution incident in the reservoir

NI Water said there was no evidence of pollution in the reservoir.

"There is no impact from this incident on the final water quality leaving the treatment works," it said in a statement.

"NI Water's treatment facilities at the Dorisland water treatment works has numerous on-site water parameter monitors which continually check the quality of raw water entering the works and the quality of water going into the public supply.

"If anything is found that could affect the water quality, the site will automatically shut down and water will be taken from other areas to continue the supply.

"All water quality testing at the Dorisland site has shown satisfactory results."

The Woodburn reservoirs are close to the site of a controversial drilling operation which was capped and abandoned last year when no oil was found.

The DAERA spokesman said a report of dead trees which had been replanted on the site had also been investigated.

He said the young saplings were showing "typical signs of stress such as needle drop due to the recent prolonged dry spell"

"At this stage we would expect mortality of around 5% and this is consistent with similar sites planted across Northern Ireland during 2017."

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