More Mass Fish Kills Revealed Across NSW
Further mass fish kills have occurred across NSW, with the state government pointing the finger at drought conditions and extreme heat.
NSW primary industries minister Niall Blair revealed on Tuesday that officials had received reports of mass fish kills in rivers and dams statewide -- one at Lake Burrendong near Dubbo, another at Port Macquarie, and one just this morning at Lake Hume near Albury.
Tuesday's announcement comes after up to one million fish washed up on the banks of the Darling River last week. State and federal governments are convening a crisis meeting to address the issue.
"Unfortunately fish kills are something we're seeing right across the state," Blair said on Tuesday.
"When we get a week of weather like this, on top of drought conditions we're seeing right across NSW, fish kills are unfortunately something we do experience."
The trigger for the recent deaths is said to be a change in temperatures and an algal bloom that took out large volumes of oxygen from the water, but experts have said the blame lies with mismanagement of water resources by government.
Locals have posted eye-opening photos and videos of the carnage washing up on the shores of the Menindee Lakes in far western NSW.
Tuesday's news comes after federal agriculture and water minister David Littleproud warned less than a day earlier that more mass death events were on the horizon.
"I'm advised there is a high likelihood of more fish kills very soon," Littleproud said in a statement on Monday.
The federal government wants states to agree to use $5 million from the Murray-Darling Basin funds for a strategy to look after native fish.
Blair also announced on Monday the state government would install aeration technology into dams and rivers to help to oxygenate the water and hopefully prevent further fish deaths.
“Unfortunately the conditions we’ve seen across NSW are leading to more and more fish kills which are caused by algae-blooms, black water and oxygen depletion,” Blair said.
“Aeration is not a silver bullet solution, but it does provide localised areas where fish can get more oxygen which ultimately gives them a better chance of surviving."
However, some have said the problems lies with government mismanagement of water resources. Tim Beshara, federal policy director for the Wilderness Society, said the current issues were "only one of the many ecological crises underway in Australia"
"What is going on in the Murray-Darling is going on right across Australia's ecosystems. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority and whichever state or federal Minister is delivering the daily talking points are being loose with the truth when they say that this is just about drought and the ancient history of over-allocation," he told 10 daily.
Beshara claimed it was "pretty bloody clear" that changes made to the Murray Darling basin had negatively affected the area.
"When it rains now after a drought the river doesn't flow like it used to," he said.
"The Northern Basin has absolutely been changed in recent years due to things like floodplain harvesting and illegal water takes and it's probably also changed because under a hotter climate the rainfall is soaked up into the soil rather than making it's way into the river."
"Anyone who says this is just because of a drought or just because of historic over-allocation is straight-up talking bullshit. And anyone saying the drought or climate change has nothing to do with it is doing the same."
John Williams, honorary professor at the Australian National University's Crawford School of Public Policy, also blamed water mismanagement.
“Dead fish and dying rivers are not because of the drought, it’s because we are extracting too much water from our rivers,” , told 10 daily last week.
"The river is like a piggy bank, if you keep taking money out without saving for the future you end up bankrupt, and just when you need it the most."