Invertebrates eliminated

Fat and solid fish remains were discharged into a watercourse running alongside the premises of The Sustainable Fish Company in Pymoor, in April 2008 Ely Magistrates’ Court heard today (Tues).

The company told investigators that they had not realised it was a problem and had been carrying on the practice since July 2007. They were fined £2,500 and ordered to pay full costs of £3,287.

Mrs Anne-Lise McDonald, prosecuting, told the court that there had been a significant effect on the ecology of the ditch into which a pipe had been discharging and the waste liquid had caused ‘an almost total elimination of invertebrates’ along the length of it.

‘The ditch was filled with a thick off-white substance which consisted of fish skin, fish flesh, fish scales and debris from internal organs of fish,’ said Mrs McDonald.

The Sustainable Fish Company processes and guts fish at Pymoor before boxing them and selling them on to customers. The gutting machine has an interceptor and the solid material collected is removed to a skip with the liquid waste going down a drain in the floor, into the rainwater drain in the yard and into the ditch.

Company bosses did not realise the system was a problem and thought that as the solid waste was being captured, the remaining liquid would not be a problem.

Since the Environment Agency discovered the offence the company has changed its practices so that the waste liquid is now collected in a cess pit before being tankered away.

After the hearing Environment Agency officer Dr Euan Simpson said: ‘This pollution was completely avoidable had the company installed the correct infrastructure before setting up the fish farming operation. The case highlights the need for all companies to consider options for trade effluent disposal particularly in areas lying outside the sewer network.’

The Sustainable Fish Company Ltd pleaded guilty to:

On or before 2 April 2008 you did cause poisonous, noxious or polluting matter to enter controlled waters, namely a tributary of the Hundred Foot Drain at Straight Furlong, Pymoor, Ely, Cambridgeshire.

Contrary to section 85(1) and section 85(6) Water Resources Act 1991