Thousands of dead fish near Neuse River frustrating community

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) – If you live near the Neuse River, you probably can smell dead fish.

More than 200,000 are dead lying on top of the water as well as in the sand, due to a recent fish kill and community members are frustrated.

Skates, bass and flounder are only some of the fish dying in the Neuse River.

“It’s a combination of the extreme heat and you have a combination of the runoff from our hog farms and our chicken farms into the river, and that’s what’s taking the oxygen out of the waters,” said Charles Fitzgerald, a community member.

Fish kills usually happen once or twice a year during the end of summer. It’s already happened twice this year killing hundreds of thousands of fish and worrying some about the future.

“We have seen our fish kills becoming more severe and at the same time a lot of our protections are threatened and are trying to be rolled back for the river,” said Travis Graves, the Lower Neuse River keeper.

Graves also said it’s sad to see the fish die right in front of you. “At one point, I could see two dozen mature skates above the water gasping for air along with hundreds of thousands of Menhaden, Blue crabs, Rock Bass.”

Graves added that another contributing factor is all the rainfall. He said the freshwater traps the saltwater at the bottom and the saltwater can’t recycle. He said if the oxygen levels continue to suffer, so will the fish. He hopes he doesn’t see any more fish kills, but it’s highly unlikely.

If you see a dead fish, make sure you don’t pick it up. Graves said it could have harmful bacteria on it.

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