Fish kills 'may be unavoidable' due to the hot weather

Fish kills 'may be unavoidable' due to the hot weather

Assistant Inspector with Inland Fisheries Ireland, John Twomey, pictured with fish samples at the scene of a recent fish kill along the River Ilen in Skibbereen in West Cork.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has warned that fish are "under distress" and that the soaring temperatures and low water levels across the country could make fish kills unavoidable.

IFI, the state agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish, says many water bodies are currently faced with drought conditions due to the current heatwave.

It is appealing to both anglers and farmers along with the general public to report sightings of fish under distress.

IFI has also asked anglers to voluntarily stop using ‘keep nets’ when fishing while high temperature warnings from Met Éireann are in place, as these nets may cause unintentional distress to fish already in challenging conditions.

Dr Gregory Forde, Head of Operations at IFI, said: "We’re asking anglers practicing catch and release fishing to consider taking a break from fishing while the high temperature warnings are in place.

"We’re also asking anglers to voluntarily stop using ‘keep nets’ until conditions become more favourable.” 

Anglers practicing ‘catch and release’ fishing have also been asked not to fish during the ongoing heatwave when possible to alleviate further undue pressure on fish stocks.

Dr Forde emphasized the severity of the current weather conditions on fish stocks.

“It’s a sad reality that low water levels and high water temperature can lead to fish kills, especially as there is less oxygen in the water to allow fish to breathe," he said. 

Once the water temperature exceeds 20C, salmon and trout suffer and are distressed. 

"At present, temperatures are dangerously high and fish kills may be unavoidable."

Dr Forde pointed out that in Lough Sheelin in County Cavan this week, the water temperature recorded was over 26C.

IFI is supporting Irish Water’s appeal to reduce water usage as much as possible during the current heatwave.

Ealier this week, IFI began an investigation into a "major" fish kill on the River Ilen near Skibbereen in West Cork, in which as many as 2,000 fish may have died.

IFI said it responded to a call from a member of the public early on Wednesday morning.

Fish mortalities were detected over a 2km stretch of the Ilen, downstream from the centre of Skibbereen town. Water and fish samples were taken from the scene by Inland Fisheries Ireland Officers and removed for scientific analysis at an independent laboratory.

IFI said the mortalities were across several species including sea trout, salmon, eel and flounder.

It said investigations are ongoing and that IFI is not in a position to comment on the cause of the fish kill at this stage, pending further analysis of samples taken.

IFI has reminded those using pesticides that they should only be used as a last resort and always in accordance with product instructions. 

Additionally, it has urged those using pesticides to respect statutory ‘no use’ zones and to be mindful at all times of one’s proximity to water bodies such as streams, ponds, rivers, ditches, lakes and springs.

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