Stiffer sanctions: Slurry causes huge fish kill

A HUGE, welcome, cultural shift among farmers means that fish kills, once so very regular, are almost novel events now.

Nevertheless, report after report has identified agriculture as the primary source of river pollution. Local authorities come a close second, a fact highlighted by the shaming reality exposed by the recent EPA report that pointed out that raw sewage is, in 2016, discharged into 45 rivers, lakes or coastal sites around the State.

This is unacceptable but so too is the suggestion that a massive fish kill in a tributary of the Blackwater — the Owentaraglin — may have been caused by the direct discharge of slurry into the river. Anyone who might indulge in this calculated environmental sabotage is not fit to run a farm.

Courts have begun to jail farmers for short periods over these deliberate pollution instances but, as has been seen in other areas, serious financial penalties — at least €50,000 — would be an effective sanction. The inevitable inability to pay excuses should be met with orders to sequester assets, land even. Problem solved. This blackguarding cannot be allowed.


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