Worst Fish Kill in History: Three Species of Native Fish Dead in Murray-Darling Basin

Worst Fish Kill in History: Three Species of Native Fish Dead in Murray-Darling Basin

In New South Wales, Australia, up to a million native fish have been found dead in the Darling River catchment.

Locals are demanding answers as government officials race to investigate. Shocking footage of thousands of dead fish floating on the surface of the river has left the community devastated.

This area has experienced other significant fish kills, with hundreds of thousands of bony herring, golden perch, and carp found floating in the water in January 2019.

This week, three species of native fish were found dead in the Murray-Darling basin, with the community dubbing the latest fish kill the worst in history.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) fisheries arm has sent officers to the site to investigate.

Locals fear for the town’s water supply as the basin provides water for many people in the area.

The deaths of hundreds of thousands of bony brim is particularly distressing for Cameron Lay, director of freshwater environments at DPI Fisheries.

He stated that these fish typically have a significant die-off when they move back into regular conditions, which is what is happening now.

Although there are concerns about water quality, there haven’t been many deaths of native Murray cod or golden perch.

WaterNSW has increased monitoring of the water quality at Menindee Lakes, where the deaths occurred, over the last few months after prolonged flooding in the area.

They are working to support agencies such as DPI Fisheries by operating the lakes to ensure the best quality water is released downstream.

The DPI spokesperson said that the fish deaths are related to low oxygen levels in the water (hypoxia) as floodwaters recede.

In 2019, hundreds of thousands of fish were found dead in the Menindee Lakes following a significant period of drought and a drop in temperatures.

The DPI fisheries stated that the 2019 fish kill was the result of critically low levels of dissolved oxygen linked to the mixing of weir pool water following a drop in temperature.

At the time, the government pointed the finger at Canberra and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority for authorizing water releases from the Menindee basin when water levels were higher.

Locals have shared their horror at the fish kill on community Facebook pages. They are calling for action to prevent such incidents in the future.

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