Northern Ireland news

More than 1,600 fish killed by chemical spill in Carrig River near Newcastle

More than 1,600 fish have been killed in a Co Down river. File picture

MORE than 1,600 fish have been killed by a chemical spill in a Co Down river.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency is investigating the major kill at Carrig River near Newcastle.

It said the pollution was reported on Saturday after a chemical got into the water. Salmon and sea trout were among the fish killed.

A spokesman for the agency said the spill was "was traced to premises where it was discovered that a chemical had escaped into the river causing significant pollution".

It said a clean-up was underway and that evidence had been gathered "with a view to an enforcement action".

"All relevant authorities have been notified, including local council environmental health as Dundrum Bay is a significant shellfish production area," he said.

Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan MLA said he was dismayed by a rise in polluting incidents this year.

"The fish kill at Carrig River comes at a time when trout and salmon have began to enter and travel up our rivers to spawn," he said.

"It is an essential part of the season which ensures that there is sustainability to our already depleted fish stocks.

"This latest fish kill caused by a chemical spillage is unacceptable and is another major kill in what has been a disastrous year for our rivers.

"The number of incidents so far this years is above the 150 mark compared to only 100 for last year in total.

"I will be contacting the agriculture minister who now has responsibility for these incidents to press her for greater enforcement and protection of our rivers."

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