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Massive fish kill

Tuesday, 18th December, 2018

Dead fish in the Darling River near Menindee not far from the railway bridge. PICTURE: Michael Minns Dead fish in the Darling River near Menindee not far from the railway bridge. PICTURE: Michael Minns

By Emily McInerney

The state of the river near Menindee has left residents and property owners shocked and disgusted.

Over the weekend, hundreds of perch were found dead along the banks of the Darling River near Menindee and surrounding properties.

Menindee resident and Aboriginal elder Dr Beryl Carmichael said the state of the fish and river was a “national disgrace”.

She said it was time for the government departments and minister managing the water to do something about it.

“It shows that they think the draining of the water doesn’t mean anything to any life form.

“It impacts on everyone from people, to wildlife to the environment.

“It’s disgusting to see as an elder. 

“To see young fish indiscriminately killed due to lack of flows is scandalous.”

Fellow resident Graeme McCrabb is developing a table grape exchange in Menindee which he has been doing for the past three years.

“It was pretty bad to start with, then we received flows down the river in mid to late 2016.”

Mr McCrabb said it gave him some hope for his business.

“Fishing also improved out of sight.

“Lately the water quality has been deteriorating but the fishing has still been excellent.

“Until now, there was a small kill last weekend, which I reported to the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), then there were hundreds and hundreds of dead fish this weekend.

“I’ve spoken to DPI and they are going to do a report on it.

“They said there are several possibilities, but lack of oxygen is the main one.

“It’s devastating to see. These fish are generational and we may never see fish this size in here again.”

Mr McCrabb said the river’s ecosystem will be forever changed from the damage done.

“Menindee and the Lakes are one of the few breeding grounds for yellow belly fish and there are hundreds of dead yellow belly,” he said.

“It will change the species in the basin.

“The Basin Authority needs to consider if flows to the mouth of the Murray are more important than the survival of the outback community and environment.

“We had water here to last us at least two years but it had been released for no benefit and to the detriment of the Darling River.”

The Department of Primary Industries and NSW Water Minister were contacted for comment. Essential Water was also contacted for comment regarding water testing, and how the water could impact Broken Hill.

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