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Pollution kills hundreds of fish in the Callan River

At this time of year, salmon are coming into the rivers to breed.

Hundreds of juvenile salmon and brown trout have died as a result of a slurry spill in a Callan River tributary in Co Armagh. Since the incident was first reported to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), officials have visited the area and the dead fish have been counted. It is thought that up to a mile-long stretch of the river has been affected. 

A spokesperson from the NIEA said a pollution source had been identified and samples had been collected. The Callan is a tributary of the Blackwater, which eventually flows into Lough Neagh, Britain’s largest body of freshwater. Lough Neagh has itself been overrun with blue-green algae in recent months, also as a result of sewage spills and fertiliser run-off. 

At this time of year, salmon and brown trout are coming into the river system to breed. Armagh Angling Club described the incident as a blow from which it could take years for the fish stocks to recover and that this was the fourth such incident in the past six years. 

Andrew Flitcroft, editor of Trout & Salmon magazine, told ST: “Fish kills such as this are indicative of governments and agencies that conduct reactive rather than preventative measures. These spills can wipe out decades of conservation in an instant, yet it may take further decades to replenish the generations of fish lost. 

“Current prosecutions for such blatant acts are flimsy and offer no deterrent whatsoever. I feel for local anglers and conservation groups who spend their lives nurturing such rivers, only to see their passion and hard work wiped out like this