Dead fish wash up in Trinco beach, NARA investigates

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 16 November 2005, 00:43 GMT]
During the last seven days millions of dead sardines (Sudai) piled up along two km beach between the eastern headquarters of the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) along the Inner Harbour Road in Trincomalee, sources said. National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA), a premier research facility of the Government of Sri Lanka said it has started scientific investigations to establish the cause of death.

Workers removing fish
Mr. Aloy W.Fernando, NARA Chairman said samples of dead fish and samples of water in the affected sea area in Trincomalee harbour have been collected to establish the cause of death. and also to rule out other causes such as from poisoning or the use of explosive or stupefying substances.

Mr. Aloy Fernando in a reply to the Chief Secretary of the North East Provincial Council (NEPC) said: "On the basis of the data and information collected by us so far this fish kill could be attributed to the lowering of the salinity levels of the waters in the Trincomalee harbour area.

"Following the heavy showers that had been experienced in the Mahaweli catchment areas the massive amount of floodwaters coming to the Trincomalee harbour waters would have lowered the salinity. Sardines are susceptible to sudden and substantial variations of salinity.

"Also, during this period large schools of Salaya had been observed aggregating near seashore waters for breeding. These two reasons combined may have resulted in the large quantities of fish that had been found dead during the last few days," Mr Fernando said.

NEPC Chief Secretary promptly notified the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Secretary the impending danger to the heath of the people in the east port city.

Meanwhile, several residents have been reported being admitted to the Trincomalee general hospital with incidents of vomiting and stomach ailments during this period. "This could have been the result of eating spoilt fish. "It is advisable for the public to refrain from consuming fish from the area of the incident," said Mr.Aloy Fernando, Chairman of NARA.

In the meantime the Trincomalee Urban Council with the assistance of UNHCR, UNICEF, USAID, Fisheries Department and environmental authorities deployed labourers to collect and dispose the dead fish using tractors and other vehicles, sources said.

In the past, following heavy rains in Mahaweli catchment areas, floodwaters from the river had reached Trincomalee harbour without causing any harm to fish. This was the first time that millions of fish of one variety had been killed due to possible lowering of the salinity level of seawater, sources said.


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