Fish were found dead in the river
Fish were found dead in the river

Concerns about the safety of fish in the River North Esk have been raised after a member of the public spotted “hundreds” of dead ones.

Senol Altintas, who lives in Brechin, was walking on the outskirts of Edzell when he spotted dead fish in the water.

Senol explained: “I was walking in the area between the Blue Door and the Shakin Brig when I saw hundreds of dead fish all along the river.

“I frequently walk around the area and I’ve never seen it before. It was really sad.

“I didn’t check the upper part of the river, but it’s bad for the region.”

After spotting the fish on May 31, he contacted the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) to raise his concerns.

He continued: “They said it was a natural issue due to the low water levels, but I’m not 100 per cent sure its normal.

“I’m worried about what is happening to our rivers.”

A spokesperson from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) said: “SEPA has received a number of complaints from members of the public regarding dead salmon in the River North Esk around the Edzell to Gannochy area.

“Unfortunately fish fatalities are a frequent occurrence at this time of year at this location due to disease which can be exacerbated by reduced flows and lower temperatures.”

The SEPA spokesperson continued: “We are liaising with the Esk District Salmon Fishery Board, and they have taken samples to try and identify the cause of this incident.”

The Brechin Advertiser’s angling correspondent, Bill Balfour, who writes the Tight Lines column, explained that outbreaks of the disease has occurred previously.

In this week’s column, which can be found on page 38 he said: “For the last two decades we have experienced outbreaks of a fungal infection in salmon and to a lesser extent sea trout in the North Esk in the vicinity of Edzell.”

It had been hoped that the Esk had escaped the disease this year, as it did last year, with no reports in early May, which Bill explained is a “danger window”.

He added: “There are so many theories as to why this happens, the latest being the very low water temperatures being experienced this year, but four years ago this was not the case.”

A spokesperson for Esk Rivers and Fisheries Trusts added: “It has been a long term problem and samples from both newly dead and dying salmon are being processed. It is likely that it is a stress related condition.”