A substantial number of dead fish were found on the banks of the Six Mile Water in Ballyclare yesterday afternoon, causing alarm amongst local anglers, the Six Mile Water Trust and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).
An investigation began at the river after the fish were discovered by a local angler at around midday.
Despite early panic about another possible fish kill on the waterway, investigators quickly realised that the dead fish were mackerel and haddock.
The Six Mile is still is recovering after a major pollution incident last October which caused the deaths more than 1,000 trout, salmon and dollaghan.
Members of the Six Mile Water Trust, Ballynure Angling Club and staff from the NIEA arrived at the scene of yesterday’s incident soon after it was reported, and an investigation began to determine the species of the fish involved.
The investigation found that the dead fish, discovered close to Sixmile Leisure Centre, were mackerel and haddock - salt water fish which wouldn’t normally be found in the Six Mile Water.
A number of lines of enquiry are now open as to how the dead fish got to be in the river.
A statement released on the Six Mile Water Trust Facebook page last night, described the dumping of the fish as “careless actions”, and said that one line of enquiry is that the fish were being used as bait by pike fishermen.
“A local angler on his way to work spotted what looked like several large trout lying dead at a foot bridge. A follow-up investigation by the Trust , Ballynure Anglers and the NIEA revealed the fish to be discarded mackerel and haddock probably intended for pike.”
Ballynure Angling Club have stressed that the use of dead bait on this stretch of water is illegal and that only flies or worms should be used while angling at the Six Mile.
“Only worms or flies can be used as bait at the Six Mile. It is worrying that the mackerel and haddock have been found at the river.
“I would urge people who are wishing to fish at the Six Mile to firstly get a free permit from the Sixmile Leisure Centre in Ballyclare, and to follow the guidelines which have been set out by Ballynure Angling Club and the Department of Culture, Arts, and Leisure,” said club member Billy Robinson.