Bigger fish kills predicted for Darling

Tens of millions of fish could die in western NSW this summer.

AUTHORITIES are preparing emergency response teams as scientists warn that fish kills are looming in NSW’s waterways on a scale that could dwarf the mass die-offs last summer.

According to an article on the ABC website, a Murray-Darling Basin Authority spokesperson said governments “hold grave concerns for communities and rivers across the northern basin which remain under considerable stress because of the drought.”

Lee Baumgartner, a freshwater fish ecologist at Charles Sturt University who took part in one of several inquiries into last summer’s mass fish kills at Menindee in western NSW, said researchers treated those events “as not yet over”.

“The biggest problem we’ve got right now is that the majority of the Darling is still dry and not flowing,” Professor Baumgartner said.

“If there’s no significant rainfall between now and when it starts to get really hot out west, we can expect it to be a pretty nasty season in terms of water quality and fish deaths.”

Menindee Lakes are 1 per cent full, while Keepit Dam and Split Rock dam are just 1 and 2 per cent full respectively, leaving the Namoi River they supply particularly at risk.

“You’ve no ability to provide flows down the Namoi,” Professor Baumgartner said, adding the Murrumbidgee, site of smaller fish kill events last summer, could also be at risk of algal outbreaks.

While government staff worry about “a disastrous” summer, the Berejiklian government is downplaying the threat for now.

“Fish kills are always a risk with persistent drought conditions across the state,” a spokesman for Adam Marshall, the Agriculture Minister, said. “The NSW government is working on ways to reduce the impact of fish kills.”

You can read the full article HERE.

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