LAST Thursday, a number of agencies and local anglers were working to clean up a large-scale fish kill in Kesh, whch prompted widespread shock at its major upset to the natural eco-system in the Glendurragh River.

The major kill on September 2 is still under investigation by the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency (NIEA).

Shortly after 10am on Thursday morning, local reports began to circulate of a fish kill incident at the Glendurragh River.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter on Thursday, Ian Grimsley, Vice-Chairman of Kesh District Angling Club, said he believed there could be “hundreds if not thousands” of dead fish in the river.

Mr. Grimsley said: “They are unbelievable scenes – there are hundreds of fish under the bridge here in Kesh, and hundreds, if not thousands, further down the river.”

The fish kill affected a diverse range of fish species in the river, including salmon parr, brown trout, roach and various other species of small fish.

Speaking of the ecological damage, Mr. Grimsley said: “This is a major river with a mouth running into Lough Erne. It will take years and years for this to come back.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Rosemary Barton said she was saddened to learn of the significant fish kill.

Mrs. Barton said: “Much work has gone into developing good fish stocks in the Kesh River; therefore, it is heartbreaking for everyone, especially those who have worked so hard to develop such a positive area for fish.

“This incident certainly appears to be of a significant scale and has caused massive damage to the fish stocks, but also potentially to the river environment itself.

“I trust that the relevant agencies will provide support for the re-stocking and maintenance of the river to assist with the replenishment of stocks and enhancement to the river itself.”

Sinn Féin Councillor for Erne North, Siobhan Currie said: "I'm shocked and annoyed to hear about the fish kill in the Glendarragh River.

"Our natural environment is to be cherished and protected. It is awful to hear of hundreds, if not thousands, of our native fish have been wiped out in this incident.

"I've been in contact with the Water Management Unit of NIEA who are still attending and carrying out investigations in the area.

"Officials have advised that there is a possibility that this incident was actually caused by a chemical entering the river as opposed to farm effluent, which may have been suspected initially.

"Scientific sampling and testing will confirm this one way or the other. The testing will also confirm the extent of damage to the ecosystem which includes fish but also important water invertebrates which are vital to fish, birds, and other wildlife.

"I would urge anyone who may have seen any activity downstream of the Glendarragh Bridge in Ederney, likely to have been last Wednesday afternoon or evening, to report it to the Pollution Incident Hotline at 0800 807060."

Speaking last Friday, September 3, a NIEA spokesperson said: "NIEA officers were immediately tasked to the area [on Thursday, September 2] and ... it was immediately evident that a major fish kill had occurred and the investigation began. This carried on until 10.30pm, when it was evident that no immediate source could be traced.

"NIEA’s investigation resumed on the morning of September 2 with DEARA Inland Fisheries staff assessing the impact, and Water Quality staff continuing their investigations to trace any possible source.

"At present, NIEA have not identified the reason for the fish mortalities, and the investigation continues.

"If any member of the public has any information which can assist the investigation, this can be reported through the incident Hotline at 0800 807060, quoting reference WR 8/21/0603, or pass any details through to"

NIEA had not responded to a request for further comment about the fish kill, including about its possible cause, by the time of going to print.