Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico probes mass fish death in Lake Cajititlan

Fishermen removed dead fish from Cajititlan lake on 31 August 2014. Image copyright EPA
Image caption Fishermen first reported the dead fish on Wednesday, since then, tonnes have been removed

Hundreds of thousands of fish have been washed up on the shores of Lake Cajititlan in the Mexican state of Jalisco over the past week.

Almost 50 tonnes of dead popoche chub freshwater fish have been removed from the lake.

The local authorities said it was part of a "natural cycle" but state officials said it was due to the lake's "poor management".

More fish are expected to wash up over the next days.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Locals and environmental officials have been removing fish by the lorryload

Jalisco's secretary for the environment, Maria Magdalena Ruiz Mejia, denied "categorically that this is a natural and cyclical phenomenon".

"We have no evidence to support that it is natural and cyclical, to the contrary, we have a series of variables which lead us to believe this phenomenon is not only recurrent and becoming more frequent and severe, but also that it is caused by the poor management of the body of water," she said.

Ms Ruiz Mejia said mud from local wastewater treatment plants could be to blame for the mortality.

When questioned by local journalists whether her office had evidence to support her allegation she said state authorities had been denied access to the plants and could therefore not yet carry out an investigation of the premises.

The state authorities have issued an environmental alert for the lagoon, but said human health was not endangered.

The lake is 9km (5.6 miles) long and 2km wide and is located north of the much bigger Lake Chapala, about 500km west of Mexico City.

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