The NSW government is taking action before another Menindee fish kill after they revealed on Saturday morning there is a higher risk of further fish kill events in our region, due to already stressed fish facing increased competition for depleting food resources, as well as cooler temperatures.
Current oxygen levels observed in the river at Menindee have been good, says the government, but NSW agencies are taking steps in case there’s a change in conditions.
A commercial fisher is being engaged by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries Group and will remove invasive carp species, which compete with native Bony Herring for oxygen in the water.
Water flows will be maintained at their current rate for the next five days to keep well-oxygenated water moving through the system.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) will carry out further water sampling and work with locals and the community, while the Emergency Operations Centre is on standby in preparation for short notice activation if necessary.
NSW Minister for Water, Rose Jackson, said this morning, “Menindee has been hit hard twice already and having this whole-of-government response to proactively manage the risks for further fish kills will help prevent another disaster happening.
“We’re taking steps to ensure the community can have confidence in the management of Menindee for its protection and for future generations.
“Advice relating to drinking water will be shared regularly with the community as it becomes available to understand changing conditions which may affect how water is used for drinking, recreation and agriculture.
“Water monitoring will continue to be in place and will determine the necessary management of water flows after Wednesday April 26.”
And Tara Moriarty, the NSW Minister for Agriculture, says, “it’s critical that water oxygen is maintained for native fish populations in the Darling-Barka River, including Bony Herring which is a key fish species in this waterway, as well as Murray Cod, Golden Perch and Silver Perch.
“Carp is an invasive species that competes with our native fish for available oxygen, food and nutrients, and by contracting a fishing operator to help remove volumes of this species currently accumulating in areas of the river, the reduction in biomass should also prevent further deterioration of water quality.
“All possible steps will be taken to prevent impacts to non-target species.”
Police Minister, Yasmin Catley, has also been in discussions with the Regional Emergency Operations Controller, ensuring the Menindee Local Emergency Management Committee is monitoring the situation.
“The committee is ready to stand-up an Emergency Operations Centre – if it’s needed – to coordinate the participating response agencies to bring about the best possible environmental outcomes,” Minister Catley said.