Fisheries board to investigate source of Shannon kill


THE Shannon Regional Fisheries Board is conducting an investigation into a "very serious" fish kill in the Shannon, at Lanesborough, Co Longford, on Saturday.

The incident occurred about 11 a.m. and there were approximately 100 anglers, mostly tourists, along the banks of the river at the time. The local tourism industry depends heavily on anglers.

The board is investigating the possibility that the source of the kill was the ESB peat fuelled power plant at Lanesborough.

The ESB owns the fishing rights on the Shannon. The incident happened downstream from the ESB plant in a breakwater which takes water to and from the plant. The kill may be associated with an accident inside the plant on Saturday morning, a source said.

Under the water pollution and fisheries Acts polluters can face fines and the cost of restocking polluted rivers.

Yesterday officers with the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board were removing the fish.

"There was no colouring of the water, but there was some odour I couldn't identify," a garda who was on the scene within 10 minutes said.

"Most of the fishermen had the fish they had caught in nets in the water, so they could put them back in the river at the end of the day. One man had about 60 in his net, but they were all dead. I saw that myself."

The river at Lanesborough is well known abroad for its coarsefish angling. The worst of the kill stretched for between 600 to 800 yards.

"The fishing is finished in the river for the moment. It will hit some businesses in the area the bed and breakfasts and the fishing shops," said the garda.

"We believe there was a chemical involved and we believe It came from an industrial source, said Mr Eamon Cusack, chief officer with the Shannon Region Fisheries Board.

The coarse fishing season had, just begun and will be at its peak in the coming weeks. Coarse fish will recolonise the affected area, but it may take months to get back to full stock again. "It could, be bad for the summer season" Mr Cusack said.

An analysis of fish and water samples should be completed by the end of the week.

Mr Barney Whelan, public relations manager with the ESB and a fisheries expert, said the fisheries board was still trying to determine the cause of the kill. "The ESB is the fishery owner on the Shannon so it is in our interest, too, to find out what happened."

Water from the Shannon at Lanesborough is used to cool the turbines of the peat fired power plant and is then returned to the river again. The water does not come into contact with any chemicals during the process, Mr Whelan said.

"The temperature of the water rises locally, and the coarse fish grow very big, so it's a bit of a favourite spot for fishermen."