Murray Darling crisis: NSW Government were warned water usage changes could kill fish

Menindee Lakes.

Menindee Lakes.

THE NSW Opposition on Sunday released a 2012 document it claims warned changes to water usage rules on the Murray Darling river systems could lead to fish kills.

Opposition Leader Michael Daley said the Fisheries NSW document, obtained through Freedom of Information laws, raised the alarm in 2012 about the possibility of a fish kill similar to what happened on the Darling River at Menindee.

However, the NSW Government dismissed the Oppositiono’s claims, saying NSW Labor were incapable of reading the report.

“If Labor had actually bothered to read the Water Sharing Plan, they would note that the recommended changes by DPI Fisheries were included when the plan was signed off,” NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said.

It is estimated one million fish – including native species Murray cod, golden perch and bony bream – died from a lack of oxygen after a sudden drop in temperature caused blue-green algae in the Darling River to break down.

“I was stunned when I read this document,” Mr Daley said.

“The people of NSW are owed a full and public explanation by the Liberals and Nationals. They were advised by experts that their rules changes could weaken this crucial river system.”

Opposition water spokesman Chris Minns travelled to Menindee yesterday and spoke to locals about the fish deaths.

“They’re pretty devastated about it,” Mr Minns told Sunraysia Daily

“Everyone I spoke to from the shopkeepers to the owner of the hotel to a lot of farmers on the river and fisherman, they’re just sad about the whole thing.

“They’re convinced that it’s man-made, that it’s mismanagement of the lakes system and the Darling in particular over a long period of time, and they’re extremely unhappy that their predictions of two or three years ago have come true.”

For more of this story, pick up your copy of Monday's Sunraysia Daily, 14/1/2019. To subscribe to our Digital Edition, click here

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