Published: Sat, January 12, 2019
Sci-tech | By April Francis

NSW fish deaths may extend Murray inquiry

NSW fish deaths may extend Murray inquiry

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.

Fish kills have been caused by a Low Dissolved Oxygen event associated with the rapid die off of an algal bloom along this section of the river.

Showing the stench has apparently clouded his judgement, Mr Buckingham comes back in shot at the end of the video asking if he can swim in the river where they found the dead fish.

"It's devastating to see the hundreds of thousands of fish killed earlier this week and we believe this is one of the largest fish kills ever seen", Mr Blair later said in a statement.

The New South Wales Government has been playing down its part in the disaster, saying drought conditions are to blame, but some experts disagree.

Federal and state officials rejected the claims of mismanagement and said drought was to blame for the disaster, the Morning Herald writes.

NSW Labor confirmed that it would seek to overturn the plan - supported by all basin state governments and the Morrison government - to effectively decommission the Menindee Lakes System.

"The recent fish deaths in the Barwon-Darling river system at Menindee was a devastating sight".

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Blair told the Herald that he had asked his departments to conduct an urgent study into the fish deaths and the subsequent clean-up. "You would blow up the [Murray-Darling Basin] Plan".

The state's independent MP, Jeremy Buckingham, travelled to the area after the farmers' video went viral, and said he vomited when he saw the scale of the deaths.

Cotton Australia said drought was affecting the river system and that the industry was also suffering, forecasting its crop this season would be half of the previous year's.

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.

"Further upstream at Dirranbandi (home of Cubbie Cotton), just 300 hectares of cotton has been planted, which is 1 per cent of what can be planted in a very good season".

"About 18 months ago, 2,000 gigalitres of water was in the Menindee Lakes before the Murray-Darling Basin Authority took the deliberate decision to accelerate releases from Menindee to meet downstream requirements and reduce overall evaporation losses from the Lakes".

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

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