INVESTIGATIONS are continuing after in the region of 1,000 salmon and trout were killed following a slurry spill in the River Loobagh, Kilmallock.
Inland Fisheries Ireland were notified of the incident on Monday evening.
According to experts in the region of 650 visible fish were lost.
“There is an observed count - which is bodies you can see, then there are the bodies which you can’t see but you know have also been killed - these are the hatch of the year, they are virtually invisible. The figure of 650 can be doubled when one considers that the very small fish which hatched out this year are also lost,” explained Mike Fitzsimons, senior fisheries environment officer, IFI.
A farmer suspected to be responsible for the slurry spill is being investigated.
“We got there as quickly as we could and proceeded upstream and were able to locate where the discharge came from. Samples have been taken and are currently being analysed,” added Mr Fitzsimons.
According to Mr Fitzsimons it could take years for the natural fish stocks to be replenished.
“Fish take time to grow. Even though there will be other fish coming into the area, to get these mature fish that were in the river at the time, it will take two to three years before new fish actually grow to that size and occupy the space,” he said.
Eamonn O’Riordan, chairman of Kilmallock and Kilfinane Anglers’ Association, described the scene at Riversfield bridge, Kilmallock on Monday as “atrocious”.
“It was by pure accident I drove down to Riversfield bridge on Monday evening,” he said. “I looked in over it. I saw dead trout, trout dying and the colour and smell off of the river was something atrocious. It is only 100 metres from the water treatment plant,” said Mr O’Riordan.
He said the anglers’ association are devastated at what has occurred. “We thought that things like this were in the past. But this is as bad as I have seen in my 37 years fishing the river. It is catastrophic for fishing. We used to have incidents like this in the bad old days when they were a regular occurrence. You could see the foam on the water - it was absolutely atrocious. The river as we speak is so brown that we can’t ascertain how far down it’s gone,” he said on Tuesday.
Council workers had to close off the town supply drawn from the river, and connect to an alternative source.