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Tom Maguire talks to BBC NI's Conor Bradford
"It's just an ecological disaster"
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Monday, 10 July, 2000, 07:14 GMT 08:14 UK
Investigation after fish kill
Dead fish being removed from the Moyola river
Dead fish are removed from the Moyola river
Tens of thousands of fish have been killed in a mysterious pollution incident on a County Londonderry river.

Local anglers say they are devastated by the annihilation of the stocks on the Moyola River, between Draperstown and Castledawson.

It comes just after more than 30,000 was spent on river improvements.

The Northern Health and Social Services Board has advised the public not to take fish from the river or to let pets or livestock near the area.

We stood and watched a slow wall of death come downstream... and there was absolutely nothing we could do about it

Tom Maguire

Tom Maguire, who is the Angling Development Officer for the Lower Bann and Moyola catchment area, said it was an "ecological disaster".

"It struck from two places so it looks like it was a deliberate attempt," he said.

"About 12 or maybe 14 miles of the river has been completely wiped out.

"We stood and watched a slow wall of death come downstream and anglers were just standing watching trout dying and there was absolutely nothing we could do about it."

The fish kill was discovered on Saturday night but the full extent of the incident was only realised at first light on Sunday.

'Deliberate attempt'

The entire stretch of river was turned yellow, and the pollution is moving down towards Lough Neagh.

Mr Maguire said the fact the river bed had been clean in certain places, indicated a deliberate attempt to kill the fish.

"You could see where the river was completely cleaned off as if a jet of something had went into it," he said.

Thousands of trout and salmon have been lost including the young salmon which would have returned to the river next year.

He said: "A four or five year cycle of salmon has been wiped out. You have otters, you have all the different birds along the river. We don't know what the consequences of all this will be.

"This is very, very heartbreaking. It's not just going to affect the Moyola because the Lower Bann river depends on returning salmon for anglers and for tourism.

"We don't know where it's going to stop. It's still heading for Lough Neagh."

The Fisheries Conservancy Board has tested the water but it will take a few days before the results are available.

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