Carlingford Lough oysters die in hot weather

An oyster

A number of oysters have been killed following the outbreak of a virus in Carlingford Lough in County Down.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) said ostreid herpes was detected on Wednesday following a sample of dead pacific oysters.

DARD said there have been no other mortalities reported in Northern Ireland.

"The deaths appear to be linked to the hot weather," a DARD spokesperson said.

"The virus appears to lie latent until water temperatures reach 16 degrees Celsius, at which stage the oysters begin to die very quickly.

"Temperatures have risen to 20 degrees Celsius in recent days which has significantly reduced dissolved oxygen levels in shallow areas where oysters are grown.

"Such temperatures are not unusually warm, but combined with the presence of the virus, conditions have resulted in oyster mortalities."

Decimation of oyster farming

South Down SDLP MLA Seán Rogers said some local farmers are under "horrendous circumstances."

"One farmer has lost 80% of his stock in just two days, which is essentially three years of hard work in often very difficult conditions," he said.

"It's assumed that these losses are linked to the unusually high water temperatures of late in Carlingford Lough. We could potentially be looking at the total decimation of oyster farming as we know it locally."

DARD Chief Fisheries Officer Mark McCaughan has said there are currently no "compensation mechanisms" in place for lost stocks.

The Food Standards Agency is not aware of any reports of human illness associated with this virus.

More Northern Ireland stories



  • photo of patient zero, two year-old Emile OuamounoPatient zero

    Tracking first Ebola victim and and how virus spread

  • A young Chinese girl looks at an image of BarbieBarbie's battle

    Can the doll make it in China at the second attempt?

  • Prosperi in the 1994 MdSLost in the desert

    How I drank urine and bat blood to survive in the Sahara

  • Afghan interpetersBlacklisted

    The Afghan interpreters left by the US to the mercy of the Taliban

  • Flooded homesNo respite

    Many hit by last winter's floods are struggling to pay soaring insurance bills

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.