Pollution suspected in Dawkins Pond fish kill
The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has initiated an investigation into a suspected fish kill in Dawkins Pond, off Port Henderson Road in Portmore, St Catherine.
Hundreds of dead fish washed up along the coastline about 10 p.m. on Thursday, according to locals and fishermen.
Fisherman Nicky told The Gleaner that the water appeared reddish-brown and that the fish were at an intermediate stage of life.
He added that despite the presence of thick layers of sargassum seaweed, he was certain that this was not the source of their death.
“Sargassum have some seed underneath it. The fish feed off a it. The sargassum nah kill dem,” he said, theorising that the water might have been contaminated with chemicals.
NEPA environmental officer Leroy Taylor, who was collecting samples of the water and dead fish, observed elevated pollution levels of 53.83 mS/cm, although normal levels should be about 30 mS/cm.
One local expressed concern that residents were out in their numbers from Thursday night into Friday morning gathering the suspected contaminated fish for a purpose unknown to her.
“Youngsters were running with buckets and stuff just to get some before they actually die [as] they weren’t completely dead as yet,” she said of Thursday night’s phenomenon.
The woman said that in the 17 years in which she has operated her shop on the beach, this was the first time she was witnessing such a fish kill.
“It’s a bit alarming,” she said, expressing hope that no one was planning to consume the fish or to sell them to unsuspecting customers.
Ollyvia Anderson, manager of public education and corporate communication at NEPA, also urged persons not to consume the fish.
Nicky explained that those who were gathering the fish are intending to use them as bait for the rest of the weekend.
One fisherman was hurt by the sight of the dead creatures.
“It pain mi heart, man. Mi nuh like see them something deh,” he said, referring to the large quantity of fish believed to have been killed by pollution.
The fishermen, however, said the fish kill had little impact on their business.