Monday, 25 March, 2019


NSW fish deaths may extend Murray inquiry

Nearly a million fish have died in an “environmental catastrophe”.. Source 7NewsMore Nearly a million fish have died in an “environmental catastrophe”.. Source 7NewsMore
Kristine Garrett | 12 January, 2019, 15:52

It comes after a Facebook video posted by local farmers Dick Arnold and Rob McBride went viral online, as they showed shocking footage of the bloated carcasses of the huge fish.

Image: Locals accused the government of mismanaging the Murray-Darling River Basin.

A lack of water in the Darlin River and the Menindee Lakes means that authorities were unable to flush the system before millions of fish suffocated through a lack of oxygen in water.

Showing the stench has apparently clouded his judgement, Mr Buckingham comes back in shot at the end of the video asking if he can swim in the river where they found the dead fish.

But Mr Blair insists no one is getting water because of the prolonged drought.

"Coupled with the extensive drought and the simple fact there has been little-to-no rain, the release of water from the lakes has exacerbated the conditions leading to these fish deaths".

"The scale of this disaster is extraordinary and unprecedented", the opposition leader said in a statement. "We've spent decades and $13 billion only to end up with ecological tragedy in our rivers".

NSW Labor confirmed that it would seek to overturn the plan - supported by all basin state governments and the Morrison government - to effectively decommission the Menindee Lakes System.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair has since called for an urgent report from the Department of Primary Industries and WaterNSW. He added the SDL project at Menindee, which aims to save 105 gigalitres a water a year, must proceed. "You would blow up the [Murray-Darling Basin] Plan".

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.

"As much as these events are deeply distressing to all involved they have no impact on Murray Cod Australia's production for this year or coming years", the MCA board assured investors.

But Richard Kingsford, the director of the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of NSW, said it was a disaster that had been many years in the making because too much water had been diverted from the system for agriculture.

"Further upstream at Dirranbandi (home of Cubbie Cotton), just 300 hectares of cotton has been planted, which is 1 per cent of what can be planted in a very good season".

A South Australian royal commission in 2018 investigated allegations of water theft from the Murray-Darling basin by rogue irrigators with a report due in February.

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

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