Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Fish kill sparks NEPA warning

Published:Tuesday | March 31, 2015 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju

The public is being warned to be very careful in buying fish, following a major unexplained fish kill in a canal in Portmore,

St Catherine, yesterday morning.

For this reason, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has issued a news release advising the public to refrain from collecting or eating fish from the area, since the cause of death has not yet been ascertained.

The fish kill was confined to a canal running from Westchester, all the way to Edgewater (under the George Lee Boulevard), before emptying into Dawkins Pond, but The Gleaner was advised that the dead fish were confined to the canal section of the waterway.

NEPA, investigating the cause of the fish kill, with support from the Marine Police, says it has collected samples for testing, the results of which will not be known for a few days. However, early indications are that it might not have been accidental.

"That entire canal from up the top in Westchester coming right down to Edgewater had the fish floating. They weren't out in the Dawkins Pond or anything; it was just right in that area alone, which sorta looks suspicious," Richard Nelson, NEPA's enforcement manager, told The Gleaner.

downtown sale

He also disclosed that the agency got the report about 10 o'clock, and by the time its officers got to the location, they were told that people already collected many buckets of the 'sprat-like' fish and had headed to downtown Kingston to sell them.

"We don't know exactly what caused it (fish kill), but once most of them (fish) have their mouths open, it is a suggestion that there could be a lack of oxygen in the water," Nelson told The Gleaner, adding that the agency was not ruling out the possibility that it could be caused by the ingestion of toxic substances or a result of biological impacts.

However, preliminary investigations strongly suggest otherwise.

Nelson explained: "We know that this canal takes in quite a bit of sewage from communities in the area, and the officers say they never smelled anything out of the ordinary, all they smell is raw sewage. But something was in that water that would have caused a lowering of the oxygen ... it could have been a deliberate attempt. Someone could have put something in the water to get the fish."

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com