Sinn Féin’s Declan Kearney has raised concerns about significant challenges now facing the eco system in Lough Neagh, following the confirmation of the presence of blue-green algae in the Toome Canal.
The South Antrim MLA said:
“When the scale of algae contamination in the Toome Canal became apparent last Tuesday, both Cllr Henry Cushinan and I contacted the NI Environment Agency (NIEA).
“We subsequently received an assessment from NIEA officials, confirming the presence of blue-green algae. However, since then local fishermen who work the Lough have confirmed to us that this spontaneous appearance of algae had inexplicably spread throughout the fishing waters of the Lough itself.
“During the last few years several unusual phenomena have come to the fore within the ecosystem of the Lough. Most recently the Lough water turned unusually clear. Last year the seasonal midges around the Lough shore disappeared. It is an established fact that the emergence of the invasive ’Zebra Mussel’ has devastated many fish species in the Lough; and in parallel, the numbers of fishermen who work the Lough have dramatically reduced, because it has become almost impossible to get a viable living from traditional fishing.
“It is clear that the entire ecosystem of Lough Neagh now faces new ecological challenges, with potential long-term implications for biodiversity, public health and the sustainability of our freshwater fishing industry.
“I and Cllr Cushinan will now be seeking a meeting with DAERA to discuss all of these issues and their associated ramifications.”