A handful of citizens, legislators and wildlife officials watched Wednesday as thousands of tiny, baby fish were released into the Ogeechee River.
The move was part of a restocking plan to replenish the river’s fish population after a massive fish kill in May. About 38,000 fish of multiple species died from a columnaris, bacterial disease caused by environmental stress.
Many feel the “environmental stress” was caused by improper discharge of effluent by King America Finishing, a textiles treatment plant located along the river near Dover.
The state Environmental Protection Division issued a consent order last month ruling that the company must pay $1 million in environmental improvements to the river, which does not include restocking. The consent order follows an EPD investigation that found King America Finishing in violation of its permits regarding testing and discharging effluent into the river.
According to Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Fisheries Manager Tim Barrett, about 158,000 bluegill, 175,000 redbreast and 500 bass were released into the waters at the Ga. 24 Oliver Bridge landing, on the Bulloch County side of the river.
The baby fish were pumped from a truck directly into the river, except for the bass, which were larger and were released by net.
Not all the young fish are expected to live; as a matter of fact, some did not survive the transport.
“We’re stocking small fish, and you expect to lose a lot,” he said. “That’s why you stock so many.”
Hopefully, enough fish will grow and multiply, replacing many of the fish that were killed last summer, he said.
Read more in the Oct. 15 edition of the News.