Thousands of fish die in 3rd mass death in Australian river

Combined Shape

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of fish died on Monday in the third mass death in recent weeks on a stretch of a major Australian river that local officials blamed on drought but critics said at least partly stemmed from water mismanagement.

The latest deaths began overnight in the Darling River near the township of Menindee in western New South Wales state. That’s the same area where hundreds of thousands of fish were found floating dead in early January and shortly before Christmas.

Hot weather is suspected of causing algae to bloom, then cooler overnight temperatures caused the algae to die, which starved the water of oxygen.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian blamed the poor water quality on an extended drought that is gripping most of the state.

Minister for Regional Water Niall Blair said his department knew weather conditions were “terrible” and had deployed two solar-powered aerators in the Menindee region. The government bought 16 aerators to deploy in waterways around the state after the last mass fish death on Jan. 6-7.

Trending:
Here's Who Qualifies for Government to Pay for Their Internet

“Unfortunately, there’s nothing that anyone has been able to point to — no scientist, no locals, no one has been able to point to anything else that could prevent something like this other than freshwater coming into the system and we just don’t have that,” Blair told reporters.

Menindee Regional Tourist Association president Rob Gregory, who operates river cruises, said governments had allowed farmers to take too much water from the river to irrigate over the last four years.

“Now we’ve got no reserve to flush the system and we’ve seen depleted oxygen due to blue-green algal bloom and this is the end result,” Gregory said.

“This is probably the last fish kill we’ll have because there’s nothing left to kill,” he added.

The Murray-Darling Basin is Australia’s main river system. It winds across four states and produces a third of the nation’s food.

Menindee resident Graeme McCrabb said the fish deaths highlighted how the water basin’s water management plan “is failing the whole system.”

“There’s been 13 billion (Australian) dollars ($9.3 billion) of taxpayers’ money being spent here to end up with … an absolute mess,” McCrabb told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

With a federal election to be called before the end of May, opposition environment spokesman Tony Burke called for a scientific explanation for the latest fish deaths.

“The last river I was at was the Darling, where you can just see the ecological disaster that’s occurring,” Burke told reporters.

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →






We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
Combined Shape
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
Location
New York City




Conversation