Reporting Fish Kills

A fish kill is a sudden, unexpected die-off of fish in a specific location. It is important to report fish kills right away. Evidence dissipates quickly; delays can make it harder to determine the cause.

Signs of a Fish Kill:

  • Dead fish floating in the water or washed up on the shoreline
  • Live fish swimming erratically
  • Fish gulping at the surface

Discarded bait, or seeing less than five dead fish, is sometimes confused with a fish kill.

The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife has documented hundreds of fish kills since the early 1990s. They are often caused by local environmental conditions such as droughts, extreme water temperatures, and algae blooms.

Timely public reports of fish kills help DNREC’s fish kill response team gather important data and information. They use it to identify chronic water quality issues, emerging fish diseases and human disturbances that can cause fish kills.

Information gathered during fish kill investigations can also help plan fish restocking and measures to prevent more fish kills.

Normal Business Hours

When reporting fish kills during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) contact one of the two people listed below, depending on whether the fish kill is in tidal waters (ocean, bays and rivers) or non-tidal waters (ponds, lakes and impoundments).

Non-tidal Waters

Edna Stetzar
Office: 302-735-8654
Cell: 302-270-9136

Tidal Waters

Devon Scott
Office: 302-735-2961
Cell: 302-612-7234


Fisheries Section
Main Office

If you are unable to reach the listed contact person, try their other listed colleague. If neither is available, call the back-up person. If none of these staff are available, call the main Fisheries Section number at 302-739-9914.

After Hours, Weekends and Holidays

When reporting fish kills after normal business hours, on weekends or holidays, contact the Kent County Division of Emergency Communications (KentComm) at 302-739-4580 or 1-800-662-8802.

KentComm will contact a DNREC Environmental Enforcement Officer or DNREC Emergency Response.