Urgent action is required to prevent further repeats of fish kills after a reported incident at the River Lagan at Thorneyford just outside Dromore, Lagan Valley MLA Sorcha Eastwood has said.
The MLA was speaking after getting confirmation from the Environment Agency a fish kill had taken place in her constituency, after being alerted by local residents. While it is not yet clear how many fish have been killed in the river or the cause, Ms Eastwood has discouraged people from removing any dead fish.
“I will continue to press the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to conduct a detailed investigation into this incident and indeed other occurrences of major fish kills in Northern Ireland, in order to prevent repeats,” she said.
“This latest incident is particularly worrying, as it comes at a time when the River Lagan status is not classed as ‘good’ within the Water Framework Directive, which was confirmed to me by the DAERA Minister in June. It will further damage the delicate ecosystems, and animals and plant life living in and around the river.
“I will work to ensure the Department examines the frequency of fish kills, the extent of damage to our vital natural habitat and ecosystems, and the legal outcomes. While that is a matter for the courts, it is understandable the Department should consider whether penalties are perceived as a deterrent.
“The statutory agencies must work with communities, anglers and conservationists to help protect our rivers, and the valuable natural life and resource they provide. It is clear the long-standing ask from Alliance for an independent Environment Agency is more relevant and necessary than ever.”