Conviction for fish kill in Glenamaddy highlights consequences of pollution

A landowner has been convicted of a breach to the Water Pollution Act in Glenamaddy, Co Galway which resulted in a fish kill. At a sitting of Tuam District Court, Michael Conneally of Boyounagh, Glenamaddy pleaded guilty to permitting silage effluent to enter the Yellow River, a tributary of the Clare River, on June 15 2016.

David Harrington, Senior Fisheries Environmental Officer at Inland Fisheries Ireland gave evidence of tracing the source of the fish kill back to a pipe originating from a silage pit on Mr Conneally’s land. The pollution incident resulted in damage to fish stock in the Yellow River, which is an important spawning tributary for salmon and trout with the absence of aquatic life noted for a considerable distance downstream.

Mr Conneally fully co-operated with officers from Inland Fisheries Ireland and sought to remedy the incident without delay. However, the polluting matter had already had impacted the river. Judge Mary Devins convicted Mr. Conneally and fined him €750 with three months to pay, as well as laboratory expenses of €464.94 and legal costs of €600.

Dr Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “We would appeal to farmers for continued vigilance to help protect our waterways from agricultural pollution. At this time of year, silage is in full swing and silage effluent can be a highly toxic substance when it gets into rivers, starving the fish and invertebrate life of oxygen. This incident on the Clare River highlights the large impact one leak can have on our fisheries resource.”

The Clare River is the largest tributary of Lough Corrib, and sees thousands of salmon and trout run the river to spawn every year. It provides a valuable angling facility for local and tourist anglers in the west of Ireland. There are six different angling clubs along the river who have made significant investment in recent years to help improve the spawning and nursery habitat for salmon and trout. The clubs rely on the responsible environmental stewardship of local farmers to maintain the Clare River as a key angling resource.

Angling in Ireland currently contributes €836 million to the Irish economy annually, supporting upwards of 11,000 jobs which are often in rural and peripheral communities. Inland Fisheries Ireland’s National Strategy for Angling Development aims to ensure the sustainable development of the natural angling resource in a conservation focused manner. If realised, the strategy could help increase the economic contribution of angling by €53 million annually and support 18,000 jobs.

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