THOUSANDS of fish are thought to have died after pollution leaked into the Sixmilewater River.
And the Ballynure Angling Club which holds the fishing rights to the affected stretch of water says it could take years for the river to recover.
Local girl, 11-year-old Julia Wilson, daughter of Ballynure Angling Club member Sam Wilson, spotted the dead fish close to the Isle of Man Bridge as she was out for a walk along the river on Sunday afternoon.
The Environment Agency has begun an investigation at the scene. It has said the environmental impact is of a ‘high severity’.
Billy Robinson, Chairman of the angling club said mainly young salmon and brown trout had been killed.
“This is absolutely devastating, the river will take years to recover from this incident.
“This is the latest fish kill, there have been several over the years and a lot of the members can’t believe it has happened again.
“We are holding our AGM soon and will be asking our members to pay for fishing which we can’t provide,” he said.
“We’ve no idea how this happened yet, there is a sewage treatment works and a number of businesses along the river which could be responsible, but we will just have to wait for the Environment Agency’s report.”
A spokesman for the Department of the Environment added: “Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) received a report via the Water pollution hotline indicating that there were a number of dead fish in the Sixmilewater River between Ballyclare and Doagh.
“An NIEA Inspector was immediately tasked to the area to investigate the report and determine the environmental impact.
“The environmental impact has been assessed as being of high severity.
“Further to the investigation, samples have been taken and a biological survey of the waterway is currently being carried out in an attempt to determine the nature and source of the pollutant.”
The spokesman said estimates had put the fish killed at around 2,000 confirmed mortalities, including salmon and brown trout of all classes and ages.
He added: “Investigations are on-going to determine the source and cause of the incident.”
A spokeswoman for NI Water said: “NI Water is aware of a pollution incident that occurred at Sixmilewater River on Sunday. NI Water is currently assisting NIEA with its on-going investigation.”