This evening I received a call from Sam Hudson informing me that fish had been killed on the Fenwick Water in the area where we stocked the fish rescued from Kilmarnock Water in March. SEPA were called but unfortunately he duty officer was in East Kilbride and by the time he would have got there it would have been dark but he called me back and we spoke at length about the situation and assured me that the Ayr office will be on the case in the morning.

I met up with Sam Hudson and Sandy Logan from Kilmarnock AC and they showed me a pool where a large number of fish lay dead in the water. It is essential that fish aren’t removed to allow SEPA to extract the evidence themselves however I had been asked to look at the fish to assess the time of death if possible so we pick those in easy reach of the bank for a closer look (they were returned to the water immediately afterwards).

A selection of the fish that were found dead in just one pool.

As we often see in such incidents, all the fishes mouths were wide open indicating that they may have been gasping for oxygen when they died. Their gills were very pale also suggesting the same thing.

Very pale gills indicate a lack of oxygen. This was a salmon parr probably stocked (under licence) by ourselves in March during the fish rescue in the town centre. What a shame!

At least 3 fish can be seen dead in this picture taken as darkness fell.

From the limited time I was on site I’m certain that there are a lot of fish dead in the burn. I know that the Ford Pool at Dean Castle gates has quite a few fish dead in the water. Depending on how much pollution entered the burn and the concentration, it could feasibly have killed fish as far downstream as the River Irvine. That could mean 10’s of thousands of fish are lost. I’ll investigate this more thoroughly tomorrow.

This isn’t the first fish kill in this area. Sam and Brian attended a similar event at this location about 6 years ago. It is important that we find the source and at very least educate those responsible. I will contact the Kilmarnock Standard in the morning in the hope that they will run a feature and raise awareness of the issue. I also hope that SEPA can trace the culprit(s) and collect sufficient evidence to take legal action against them. I’ll update this article if I get any more information.


I visited the river this morning and met with SEPA. We traced the upper limit of dead fish to the same area that a Consented Storm Overflow entered the river. CSO’s aren’t supposed to run continiously but this one had been for some time by the look of it. SEPA will request immediate action by Scottish Water to put this right. They have taken samples and requested their ecologists attend. We found some invertebrates dead but not many. It is likely  that whatever killed the fish has long since been washed downstream and diluted.

The most likely source of the pollution that killed the fish

I walked downstream to Townhead but the last fish I saw dead was at the Ford. Hopefully the impact of the pollution was very localised. I did find trout and salmon dead and the salmon most likely were there as a result of being relocated to a place of ‘safety’ from the town centre during our fish rescues, either in 2012 or earlier this year.

A dead salmon parr found near the CSO

We saw a heron in the water and I noticed that quite a few of the dead fish we saw last night were missing. I hope there aren’t any bird or mammal casualties following predation of these poisoned fish.