Seven weeks on from a major fish kill in a Fermanagh river, a local community is still awaiting answers on its cause, an incident that killed some 2,500 fish.

Concerns were raised at a meeting last week of interested parties regarding the large-scale fish kill in the Glendurragh (Kesh) River on September 1.

One of the major outcomes was that the toxic chemical which killed the fish has not yet been identified but it is not a chemical associated with agriculture.

READ MORE: Some 2,500 fish killed in major fish kill

‘Inadequate response’

Those assembled felt there was an “inadequate response by statutory bodies” according to Stephen Hey who sent a letter to this newspaper regarding the meeting and the lack of answers.

One statutory body did not send a representative to the meeting, Northern Ireland Water. Those in attendance at the socially distanced meeting included representative of NIEA (water management unit), DAERA inland fisheries, MLAs, Councillors, local farmers, and representatives of the seven Fermanagh angling clubs.

One of the major concerns raised by those present was the decision not to remove dead and dying fish from the site.

Mr. Hey said: “Local angling club members were told not to remove dead fish, which were then left to rot for a further eight days until removed by a flood, their carcasses subsequently littering the marina, with tourist cruisers moored in it.”

READ MORE: Collective anger over major fishkill

No dead fish were removed for toxicological examination.

Mr Hey added: “Limited details of water analysis were presented and the audience was told dead fish are difficult to analyse as they rapidly decompose, and dying fish were best for analysis. Dying fish were seen by angling club members to be present on the evening of September 1. None were removed.”

Impartial Reporter:

Huge impact

Two of those who attended the meeting were Ulster Unionist MLA Rosemary Barton and Ulster Unionist Erne North Councillor John McClaughry.

Mrs. Barton said: “Given the recent serious pollution incident on the river that killed hundreds of fish and the lack of establishing the source of the pollution it was important that local anglers and reps from statutory bodies discuss whatever details are available.

“This has a huge environmental impact on the river and the fish stocks but there doesn’t appear to be any progress in the investigation, it appears that when pollution is from a farm source the authorities are quick to establish the source, but unable to uncover some other sources of pollution.”

‘Significant concerns’

Councillor McClaughry raised his concerns over if organised crime played a role in the fish kill. He said: “I have significant concerns that the source of this pollution cannot be established. I am worried that there may be organised crime, whereby they are disposing of pollutant directly into the river.

“Currently when statutory agencies are deployed to an incident of pollution they are; seeking to establish the source, prevent further pollution, survey the damage and cost and seek legal action against the perpetrator as identified.

“While this is sufficient against farms and businesses and local authority sites this is dramatically insufficient against persons who are doing this criminally for financial gain.”


John McClaughry, UUP..

John McClaughry, UUP..


Organised crime gangs

Councillor McClaughry added: “This should have been treated as a serious crime until the cause and source is established, with a PSNI Major Incident Team leading the investigation until it is established serious and organised crime gangs are not involved.

Further concerns were raised at the meeting regarding chemicals used in Waste Water Treatment Works and previous incidents around Waste Water Treatment works in Fermanagh including a fish kill in Lisnarick on July 2 of this year and issues in Garrison.

Discussions also took place regarding the establishment of a local body to include farmers, anglers and water users to enhance and protect the environment of the Glendurragh river.