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Historic Low In Fish Kills Welcomed - But Water Quality Concerns Remain

6th December 2018
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Historic Low In Fish Kills Welcomed - But Water Quality Concerns Remain

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has noted with caution the findings from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) report on water quality in 2017.

While it welcomes the fact that the number of fish kills in Irish waters were at a historic low last year, IFI is calling for continued awareness of water quality issues in light of the EPA’s conclusion that water quality is once again in decline.

According to this latest report, there was 14 fish kills in 2017, affecting 7.8km of river with 2,123 dead fish recovered. This is significantly lower than the worst years of 1987 and 1989 when there were more than 100 fish kills reported.

IFI’s Environmental Officers carried out 26,000 environmental inspections last year across agricultural sites, habitats, industrial sites, wastewater and water treatment plants, civil engineering sites and forestry sites.

Despite the positive drop in serious pollution events causing fish mortalities, IFI remains concerned about the reduction of water quality, with the EPA reporting a 3% drop in river water quality since 2016 and a 0.6% loss in high-quality river sites.

The inland fisheries and sea angling resource contributes €836 million to the Irish economy every year and supports 11,000 jobs in rural communities.

“Ireland has some of the best wild fisheries in Europe and while water quality in Ireland still compares favourably with our European neighbours. The current decline is a source of concern as any impact on the quality of our waters can have a negative impact on the freshwater fisheries resource,” said IFI chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne.

“Not only is the quality of our natural environment and aquatic habitat inextricably linked to the appeal of Ireland as an angling and holiday destination, it is also a very important source of wellbeing for our people.

“It is essential that we protect and conserve our freshwater assets, meaning our rivers and lakes. The long-term conservation of the resource requires maintenance of healthy and ecologically viable ecosystems.

“That means that we need to prioritise monitoring and protecting water quality as well as dealing with other issues such as removing fish migration barriers, improving practices which cause physical changes to fisheries habitat, dealing with changes in water quantity and controlling the spread of invasive species,” Dr Byrne added.

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