A suspected slurry spill has killed at least 1,200 fish, including endangered spawning salmon, in north-west Co Cork. The incident occurred over the weekend on the Owentaraglin river, a tributary of the Blackwater, which is part of the Blackwater Special Area of Conservation.
The spill stretches 2km along the river near the village of Kiskeam. Fisheries officers from Inland Fisheries Ireland said that important spawning grounds have been affected, including stocks of salmon, brown trout, eel and stickleback. They said the slurry had affected spawning beds and would have wider implications for future fish stocks in the river.
The spill is particularly disastrous as the area has been very proudly achieving terrific results through the Duhallow Life project, which has been bringing farmers, residents, and stakeholders together to restore the catchment to its pristine potential. One of the focuses of the group is on reviving Ireland's critically endangered salmon stocks.
Cork County Community Water Officer Kieran Murphy told That's Farming: “It's personally upsetting as this is the river my father grew up fishing. There's no good time for a fish kill, but this is the worst possible time because it is the spawning season and we have probably lost two generations of fish.”
Sean Long, director of the South Western River Basin District, said: “It will take years for River Owentaraglin to recover to its former condition as a result of this pollution”.
“Inland Fisheries Ireland is reminding farmers of the importance of complying with EU Regulations on the storage or movement of slurry. Recreational angling contributes €836 million to the Irish economy annually and supports upwards of 11,000 jobs, often in rural and peripheral communities.
“Inland Fisheries Ireland is committed to protecting the fisheries resource for the communities it serves across the country and we are grateful to landowners and the farming community for their assistance in maintaining a clean and healthy environment in our lakes and rivers.”