Fish kill count revised

By Country News

The NSW Government has drastically revised down the number of fish thought to have died near the NSW-Victorian border a week after another mass fish death event in the state’s far west caused outrage across the country.

The office of Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair on January 15 initially suggested some 1800 fish had died in Lake Hume.

But his department subsequently said an investigation had found ‘‘approximately 60 dead carp were located in the water’’ near a boat ramp.

‘‘A cause of the fish kill has not yet been determined, however, there are no algal or dissolved oxygen issues noticeable,’’ the DPI said.

‘‘Fishing mortality is one potential cause.’’

Albury City Mayor Kevin Mack said local catchment and tourism authorities had no knowledge of the lake fish kill as of January 15.

‘‘They say the water quality at the moment is the best it’s ever been,’’ he said.

The primary industries department said ongoing drought conditions across western NSW had resulted in fish kills in a number of waterways.

‘‘With drought conditions expected to continue it’s likely more fish kills will occur without significant rainfall to generate replenishment flows.’’

An estimated one million fish died in the Darling River at Menindee last week, prompting Murray-Darling Basin Authority to hold an emergency meeting with stakeholders in Canberra to discuss how to prevent further deaths.

Mr Blair has previously said the fish at Menindee were killed by a ‘‘perfect storm’’ of factors including severely low water flow, algal blooms and a sudden drop in temperature.

The minister announced 16 aerators will be deployed across the state in an attempt to minimise the risk of further deaths by increasing oxygen in the water.

Four will be installed in the Darling River as an ‘‘immediate priority’’ with others to be deployed at Lake Keepit near Tamworth and Lake Burrendong near Dubbo.

‘‘They are a Band-Aid solution, we admit that; nothing will stop this fish kill unless we get proper river flows and levels in our dams back to normal — but we are looking at doing everything we can to try and limit the damage,’’ Mr Blair said.

The aerators will be solar charged and will mostly run at night when oxygen depletion is worst.

For more fish death coverage, turn to page 38.