Blue-Green Algae - Latest News

Blue-green algal blooms have been recorded at a number of locations in rivers, lakes and coastlines this year. DAERA continue to respond to reports of blue-green algae within Northern Ireland waters and have put in place some emergency planning measures to deal with the situation. Impacts have primarily been seen in Lough Neagh and the Lower Bann but other sites have also been impacted including north coast bathing waters and the Fermanagh lakes. The incidence of blue green algae is impacting fisheries (both commercial and pleasure) and recreational water users.

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Monitoring, assessment and emergency pollution response activities are being carried out and an urgent review of existing policies has been commissioned. Meetings have been held with the Department for Infrastructure, Public Health Agency, Food Standards Agency, Councils and AFBI to discuss current trends and to ascertain whether more can be done to address these.

The underpinning drivers of the increase in blue-green algae blooms include the excess nutrients from agricultural and waste water systems within the Lough Neagh catchment, combined with climate change and the associated weather patterns, with the very warm June, followed by the wet July and August to date. This has been exacerbated by factors such as zebra mussels, which are upsetting the ecological balance in the Lough. 

Local councils or water operators are responsible for managing and assessing risks associated with blue-green algae. The public are reminded that blue-green algae can be harmful to humans and is highly toxic to animals. The public should therefore follow signage erected by local authorities. Members of the public can report suspected blue green algal blooms in several ways - via the Bloomin Algae App which can be downloaded at: https://www.ceh.ac.uk/our-science/projects/bloomin-algae or e-mail emergency-pollution@daera-ni.gov.uk or phone 0800 80 70 60.

More information can be found on the following webpages:

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