Fish 'wiped out' in major Co Armagh slurry spill causing concern amongst anglers

A slurry spill which has caused the deaths of hundreds of fish in a Co Armagh river could take years to recover from, anglers have said.

Juvenile salmon, brown trout and dollaghan were discovered in the River Corkley near Keady at the weekend.

Anglers who use the waterway say it's the worst environmental disaster on the river that they can remember.

On Tuesday, heavy rainfall had caused the water to rise, taking with it the dead fish further along the river.

Stephen Grew has fished on the River Corkley for many years and immediately reported the incident to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

"Just to see the dead fish and the size of some of the fish, it was just devastating you know," he said.

"Our group (Friends of the Callan River) has been putting in hard work over the past eight to ten years here, trying to improve the habitat upstream, trying to improve banks in and around town and stuff and have been planting willow.

"It's just devastating."

This is the time of year when the fish would have travelled upstream to spawn. Instead, many have been killed putting the future of fishing in this rural location in jeopardy.

"We had pollution in Armagh in 2018, it killed about a thousand fish. I'd say we counted close to a thousand fish the other day and the river is still really dirty.

"That's four or five years of stock probably wiped out, you know. And even for the young lads of the area at 16 or 17 years of age who have to buy a fishing license - that's their wee sport on a Saturday or Sunday wiped out."

The Corkley River is linked with the Callan River - it feeds into Lough Neagh which has faced its own environmental troubles of late concerning blue green algae.

It is believed that any pollution in the River Corkley is too far away for it to affect Lough Neagh.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has been contacted by UTV. It is believed it has identified the source of the spill and has taken water away for testing.

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