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Vital we do all we can to prevent further fish kills, says Blair

It is vital we do all we can to prevent further repeats of fish kills after several recent incidents, Alliance Environment spokesperson John Blair MLA has said.

The South Antrim MLA was speaking after securing the agreement of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Committee to examine the issue. The Committee will look at a number of factors, including occurrences, levels of penalties and the overall effect on the entire ecosystem.

Earlier this month, up to 1,000 fish were believed to have been killed in the Glenavy River due to pollution, which was described by Alliance Councillor David Honeyford as an “environmental disaster”. Another fish kill, described as ‘significant,’ was discovered in the Grange River in Desertmartin yesterday.

“I am pleased the DAERA Committee has agreed to my request to schedule a detailed look at occurrences of major fish kills in Northern Ireland,” said Mr Blair.

“I will work to ensure the Committee examines the frequency of these, the extent of damage to our vital natural habitat and ecosystems, as well as the legal outcomes and if these are proportionate to the damage caused. While such outcomes are of course a matter for the courts, it is understandable the Committee should consider whether penalties are perceived as a deterrent.

“These latest incidents are particularly worrying – I will continue to encourage the statutory agencies to work with communities, anglers and conservationists to help protect our rivers, and the valuable natural life and resource they provide.”