Conclusion of investigation into River Spey fish deaths

  02 October 2023

On Monday 11th September, SEPA received the first of a number of notifications about multiple large dead fish along a section of the River Spey, the first sighting of which was on Thursday 7th September.

We responded to this notification immediately and, over the past three weeks, have worked closely with a number of partner organisations to investigate what may have caused the mortalities. Water quality assessments, ecological surveys, and discussions with regulated sites in the area provided no evidence to support the concern that a major pollution incident had occurred. Health officials also offered reassurance that there has been no notable increase in calls or visits to healthcare providers in the area.

SEPA continue to review any new information provided and will take appropriate action as necessary. Low water levels and high temperatures, experienced around the time when dead fish were discovered, can lead to low oxygen levels in the water. It is well documented that this can and has previously led to fish mortalities in rivers and lochs. Low oxygen levels are typically associated with mortality in larger fish, which is consistent with findings in our investigation.

We understand this has been a matter of deep concern for the local community and remain committed to our routine monitoring of the River Spey catchment. This includes monthly chemical monitoring at five locations, from its upper reaches at Laggan, to Fochabers at its end. We carry out routine ecological sampling at 11 locations and monitor various discharges to the Spey to assess compliance with permit conditions. In addition to this, we routinely monitor chemical and ecological parameters at seven tributaries, two loch water locations, and seven groundwater locations in the area. Our planning for 2024 monitoring is ongoing.

SEPA would like to thank all those who reported their concerns, as well as the organisations who contributed to the investigation. We strongly encourage members of the public to notify SEPA of any potential pollution as soon as possible to allow us to respond in a timely manner. Reports can be made by calling 0800 80 70 60 or using our online form at