News State NSW News Mass fish kill near Menindee sparks fears for deadly summer

Mass fish kill near Menindee sparks fears for deadly summer

Aerial footage of the dead fish at Lake Pamamaroo. Footage: ABC
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Another mass fish kill event has been spotted in far western NSW, nine months after millions of fish were found dead on the nearby banks of the Darling River.

New aerial footage has emerged showing thousands of dead fish at Lake Pamamaroo in the Menindee Lakes System, near Broken Hill.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries is yet to confirm the new kill and said in a statement it would be investigating, but the remote location would make verifying the mass kill extremely difficult.

The department said mass kills were more likely to happen throughout the summer as the ongoing drought placed increased stress on aquatic populations.

The sight of millions of dead fish floating belly-up and rotting in the sun prompted desperate pleas from fishers and farmers and shocked Australians last summer.

Darryn Clifton from the Darling River Action Group said he was not surprised by the latest apparent fish kill.

“There’s thousands upon thousands from what I can see around the edge of that water area,” he told the ABC.

“The fish are trapped, they’ve got nowhere to go, there’s nowhere for the fish to follow the old creeks back to the actual outlet for the river.”

Mr Clifton believed the dead fish would include native fish as well as European carp, and said the local community was devastated by the thought of another mass death this year.

“To see this pristine area go down the tubes, it’s just beyond belief. It’s a crying shame,” he said.

The federal Water Minister, David Littleproud, told RN Breakfast he was concerned by the new footage and what it meant for the summer ahead.

“This isn’t the first of these fish death events. In fact, there’s been over 600 in NSW alone in the past 30 years,” he said.

On Monday, the Minister released details of the federal government’s Native Fish Emergency Response Plan to protect fish in the Murray Darling river system.

The plan includes up to $300,000 to help states manage extreme fish death events, maintaining a database to register fish kills and providing water to mitigate the emergency.

But Mr Littleproud admitted there was little he could do to prevent mass kills this summer when weather predictions did not include significant rainfall.

“Again [this] means there will be very minimal flows,” he said.

“We’re doing all we possibly can until it rains, and I just simply can’t make it rain, unfortunately.”

John Williams is an expert in water and river management said too much water had been diverted from the river system.

Mr Williams, who is also an honorary professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University, described the federal government’s response as inadequate.

“We’re in a desperate situation … the best we can do is a Band-Aid at the moment,” he told the ABC.