Investigation underway into mass fish kill incident in Cork bay

An estimated 80,000 farmed salmon worth up to €2.4m are believed to have been wiped out by a massive toxic plankton bloom off Cork which is being linked to climate change
Investigation underway into mass fish kill incident in Cork bay

An estimated 80,000 farmed salmon worth up to €2.4m are believed to have been wiped out by a massive toxic plankton bloom off Cork which is being linked to climate change. FILE PIC.

INVESTIGATIONS are currently underway to establish the cause of the recent mass fish kill incident at Mowi Ireland’s Ahabeg and Roancarrig sites in Bantry Bay.

An estimated 80,000 farmed salmon worth up to €2.4m are believed to have been wiped out by a massive toxic plankton bloom off Cork which is being linked to climate change.

Scientists from the Marine Institute and other experts are now investigating the incident which decimated stock at Mowi Ireland’s fish farm operations in Bantry Bay.

A spokesperson for The Marine Institute (MI) told The Echo that a phytoplankton bloom is currently being observed in the South West, leading to a brown water discolouration in some areas.

“The Marine Institute is working on identifying the causative species of the bloom,” the spokesperson added.

INCIDENT

A spokesperson for Mowi Ireland, the major Norwegian-based seafood company confirmed to The Echo that the incident occurred in late October, but said the extent of the losses has not been ‘definitively’ established.

“Mowi Ireland has notified the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) of a recent incident at its sites in Bantry Bay, Cork in late October. 

"The sites in question at Ahabeg and Roancarrig, were affected by a toxic plankton bloom resulting in elevated mortality rates of stock. 

"At this time, the extent of the losses has not been definitively established. The company is in close contact with DAFM’s Aquaculture division and is strictly following all departmental and industry protocols in relation to the incident.” 

The spokesperson said they are trying to establish the exact cause of the incident. 

“Company veterinary experts and site management are monitoring the situation closely with a view to establishing all relevant background detail and contributory factors as part of its investigation.

“The company regrets the loss of stock and is doing everything in its power to mitigate the impact of what is a naturally occurring toxic plankton bloom exacerbated by warmer waters which leads to the proliferation of various types of harmful plankton. 

"The Marine Institute as well as other experts and academics are also involved in collaborating in the various investigations to establish the exact cause of the incident,” the spokesperson added.

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