Thursday, 17 January, 2019

What happens when the 'last resort' on the Darling River dries out?

Nearly a million fish have died in an “environmental catastrophe”.. Source 7NewsMore Nearly a million fish have died in an “environmental catastrophe”.. Source 7NewsMore
Theresa Hayes | 12 January, 2019, 04:42

The cotton industry says it is not to blame for the mass deaths of hundreds of thousands of fish in the Darling River and is exhausted of being a "whipping boy" for problems associated with the drought.

The NSW Government is in talks with the Commonwealth about operating rules and water-sharing arrangements, he added.

A furore has erupted in the far west of New South Wales (NSW) State in Australia, after around one million fish were found dead in a 40-km passage of the Darling River in the township of Menindee, 1,150 km northwest of Sydney.

Back in Sydney, NSW Labor upped the political ante on Thursday, a day after Minister Blair made a visit to Menindee, interrupted in part by local protesters demanding more water to help flush out the blue-green algal blooms that triggered the die-off.

In a video that has been viewed almost 4 million times, Menindee resident Dick Arnold and rancher Rob McBride say the fish kills are "a manmade disaster".

It's just put out a release to the ASX confirming its business is not affected by the Murray River cod-die off which has stolen the social media spotlight in the past couple of days, because it grows Murray cod in tanks, not the Darling River.

"They don't understand what it would mean [to cancel it]", Blair says, of the NSW Labor stance. "But the river droughts are happening more often and they're more intense as a result of the irrigation industry in the Darling diverting water from the river over the last 10 to 20 years". "Without more water available to flow through the system, it is possible more fish will die during summer".

"The scale of this disaster is extraordinary and unprecedented", the opposition leader said in a statement.

There were three other mass fish deaths around the Christmas period in the same region, which is a key breeding area for endangered fish species.

But it is former Green now independent MP Jeremy Buckingham's hilarious reaction during a Facebook video that is drawing all the attention, for the wrong reasons.

A video of people holding up the dead fish from the latest incident has gone viral as local farmers and the community blame the state government's mismanagement of the Murray-Darling Basin.

These events are isolated to the Darling River - all of MCA's production is based on the Murrumbidgee and Murray River Systems and we have sufficient allocation of high quality water.

"It should be inconceivable that a $13 billion water reform developed in response to drought has failed at its first drought", she said.

"What we have is a massive drought".