Fish kill linked to illegal dredging

COASTAL communities are being warned it is illegal to destroy fish habitat through the excavation of lake and lagoon entrances along the NSW coastline.

NSW Department of Primary Industries, District Fisheries Officer at Batemans Bay, Sampson Hollywood said the warning comes after a channel at Bawley Point was allegedly illegally dredged by a group of surfers last year, resulting in a large fish kill.

“Several men from the Bawley Point area allegedly used a shovel to dredge the channel that extends from the mouth of Willinga Lake to the ocean in an attempt to open the lake, which has been closed for some time,” Hollywood said.

“The opening of this channel created a short lasting standing wave which the men wanted to surf. While the waves created by the opening channels and lakes only lasts a short time, the consequences for the fish and the fish habitat can be severe and long lasting.”

“Many people wrongly believe that opening lakes and lagoons can improve water quality or will enhance fish recruitment, however this is just not the case,” Hollywood said.

“Opening these structures to the ocean can lead to low dissolved oxygen levels, increased exposure and death of aquatic vegetation and fish.”

Penalties of up to $110,000 apply to individuals or $220,000 for a corporation for the illegal dredging of a waterland without a permit.

People who witness illegal lake openings or fishing should immediately contact their local fisheries office.

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