Murray Cod Australia says no effect from Darling River fish deaths

Rodiano Bonacci
Gennaio 10, 2019

"Unfortunately this is the sort of thing we do see during drought", he said.

Such a move, part of the Sustainable Diversion Limits projects, would "further reduce water flows in the lower Darling River and destroy fish breeding grounds in the Darling River", Labor said, adding it had "committed to abandon this plan to prevent further ecological destruction".

Back in Sydney, NSW Labor upped the political ante on Thursday, a day after Minister Blair made a visit to Menindee, interrupted in part by local protesters demanding more water to help flush out the blue-green algal blooms that triggered the die-off.

In a video that has been viewed almost 4 million times, Menindee resident Dick Arnold and rancher Rob McBride say the fish kills are "a manmade disaster".

Mr Blair dismissed Mr Daley's demand saying that he had used his first comments about the drought to "rewrite history by ignoring the fact that similar environmental catastrophes happened under their watch when last in government".

Up to a million fish are believed to have been killed in the Darling River at Menindee near Broken Hill as a result of a devastating algal bloom event. The dying algae worsened already low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water, pushing many fish beyond their tolerance levels.

"The scale of this disaster is extraordinary and unprecedented", the opposition leader said in a statement. Governments have also emptied the Menindee Lakes system rapidly, rather than leave water in reserve for dry times. "We've spent decades and $13 billion only to end up with ecological tragedy in our rivers".

Mr Blair said he had requested that Department of Primary Industries and WaterNSW prepare an urgent report on the fish kill and clean up.

"On the Barwon-Darling, the impact on cotton production is even more devastating with zero hectares of cotton being grown in Bourke this season, down from 4,000 hectares the year before", the general manager of Cotton Australia, Michael Murray, said.

Ex-Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham has made himself an instant meme after almost spewing while holding a dead fish in a video that was meant to highlight the National Party's water policies.

Buckingham managed to get in a couple of jabs, criticising the management of the Murray Darling basin by the National Party and the "desecration of the river by cotton irrigators upstream", before the stench forced him to run off screen to loudly retch into nearby bushes.

Buckingham was trying to highlight the recent death of around a million fish in the Darling River, and was trying to point blame at the Nationals for their handling of water policies.

"Droughts would have contributed to the blue green algae outbreak", he said. "Sadly, it is entirely predictable for those of us that have been warning about the raft of problems plaguing the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan".

Peter Hannam writes on environment issues for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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