River Spey update

  21 September 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. The initial report included a water quality reading the notifier believed to be abnormal. 

SEPA officers checked historical water quality monitoring for comparison, inspected the river, and carried out bankside analysis of water samples. Both the supplied water quality reading and all subsequent results were found to be within expected ranges. Officers also contacted a number of regulated sites in the area and did not identify any potential cause of the reported fish mortalities, nor any evidence of impacts to water quality. 

A SEPA ecologist was undertaking routine ecological surveys on the River Spey during the period when dead fish were observed, and initial findings confirm invertebrate populations appear to be normal, giving no indication of any water quality issues. Any acute significant pollution in the river would also cause mortality in many other species and across the entire size and age range of fish. 

A number of other potential causes are being considered such as low oxygen in the water caused by low flows and high temperatures, as was the case at the time in the river. 

A multi-agency group has met in response to the incident. We will continue to liaise with partners and assess all reports in an effort to identify any possible factors responsible for the fish mortalities. 

In the meantime, members of the public who feel acutely unwell after being in contact with the river are advised to seek medical advice. SEPA is also asking anyone with information that may help investigations to report this online at sepa.org.uk/report or by calling our Pollution Hotline on 0800 80 70 60.