Anglers express concern over Lough Erne sewage

LOUGH Erne is creating a stink so bad that even the fish are swimming away.

Sewage in the lough has been a long-running concern for Fermanagh’s anglers who are swimming against the tide as far as landing a big catch goes with fish deciding to spawn elsewhere.

A Freedom of Information request was put in by the Erne Anglers to NI Water with the anglers stating the reply they got informed them that 250,000 tonnes of sewage are pumped out per year into the Erne around Enniskillen. There are 30 CSO’s (Combined Sewer Overflows) around the town that discharge that.


What is a worry to the anglers is that they claim the screens on the CSO’s which prevent solids entering the lough have been removed and ensuring those fishing have been seeing objects in the water that they don’t want to reel in.

Erne Anglers Treasurer and Chairman of the Ulster Coarse Fishing Federation, Jack Tisdall said: “One thing that really concerns us is that we believe the screens have been taken off from all the CSO’s. How the CSO operates is that sewage goes into it but to avoid solid material – which includes sanitary towels and wet-wipes along with bodily solids – going into the waterway, there are screens put on them.

“The solid material is filtered out by the screens and then they flow down to Silverhill (sewage treatment plant outside Enniskillen). That means when there is heavy rainfall, not only is sewage going in but solid materials as well.

“We believe this has been the case for five to six years from when the screens had been taken off.

“This impacts on everybody that uses the river – whether you’re an angler, a swimmer or a canoeist. It’s not helping the wildlife of Enniskillen or enhancing the town’s tourism.”

With the sewage issues affecting the fish as well, a knock-on effect has been a drop in those coming to the lough to cast their lines.

“We have found that the fishing in Enniskillen over the last few years has dropped off dramatically compared to what it was 20 years ago,” adds Tisdall.


“We’ve done an analysis of all the catches taken in the Classic Fishing Festival and the catches in recent years are 50 per cent of what was caught previously. We are putting that down to NI Waters’ continual discharge.

“Twenty years ago, the number of people fishing at the Classic would have been 400. This year, that number is down to 128. A coarse angler on a week’s holiday spends on average £770 during their stay here. You take 200 people out of the equation and that’s a lot of money for the restaurants, bars and shops of the town to lose out on.

“The other thing is that the fish tend to race through Enniskillen. They used to migrate slowly through Enniskillen to spawn all through April and May. But because the bed of the lake has been so polluted, the habitat is no longer there and the fish are just racing through the town and therefore the catches are not there.

“The people who used to come for festivals for three or four weeks continually caught fish. Now the fish race through to rivers like the Colebrooke and Arney and the spawning no longer takes place in the town.”

To read more.. Subscribe to current edition

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA