East Antrim Ulster Unionist Party MLA Roy Beggs has received an update from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) that the recent fish kill at Woodburn was most likely linked to faulty equipment used as part of the fish re-stocking process.
Mr Beggs MLA contacted the Permanent Secretary in DAERA, stating, “There has been a fish kill at the public reservoir which supplies water to much of my East Antrim constituency. DAERA are responsible for both re-stocking fish at the Woodburn reservoirs and for investigating fish kills and the potential of water pollution. Given the key roles played by DAERA, I would ask for an urgent investigation to establish the cause of the fish kill at the Woodburn reservoirs. Please advise if the re-stocking process caused the fish kill or identify an alternative cause. Please also advise what lessons are being learned from this incident which is giving the public concern about their source of mains water?”
DAERA Permanent Secretary Noel Lavery said, “Three of the Woodburn waters were stocked in May and to date fish mortalities have only been found at two of them. Reports indicated that only some fish were dead whilst other fish appeared to be unaffected and that anglers are continuing to catch fish at these sites. Brown trout are particularly vulnerable to warm water temperatures as the level of available dissolved oxygen drops, especially during still weather conditions. Lakes can stratify and the top layer of water becomes deoxygenated. This can be sufficient to cause “natural” fish kills. Fish that die will generally sink to the bottom of a water and once the decay process set in the body cavity fills with gas and the carcass floats to the surface sometime later. Hence, the delay in seeing some of the fish that died sometime after they were stocked at some of the sites.
A follow up inspection of the stocking equipment has been carried out and faulty equipment has been identified. The equipment is undergoing repairs as a matter of urgency. These faults would have reduced the level of oxygen in the transport tanks thereby reducing the condition of any fish being stocked out. In addition stocking procedures have also been reviewed and some changes have been identified which will improve the overall process and thereby reduce the event of reoccurrence.”