'One million' fish die in Australian river in 'ecological catastrophe'

Katie Ramirez
January 12, 2019

Mr McBride features in a viral Facebook video where he's standing in the Darling River alongside Dick Arnold holding dead fish.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair has since called for an urgent report from the Department of Primary Industries and WaterNSW.

In a tweet, Mr Buckingham said he was "involuntarily retching from the smell".

"It was one of the most disgusting experiences of my life".

Ex-Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham has made himself an instant meme after almost spewing while holding a dead fish in a video that was meant to highlight the National Party's water policies. "I felt so sick that I panicked and jumped in the river to escape it - as bad as it is!" he explained.

Dead fish float on the surface of the Darling River at Menindee, in far west NSW.

The discovery of up to a million dead fish has been blamed on mismanagement and corruption, but the NSW Government insists the drought is partly to blame.

"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.

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".

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"This is the result of draining the Menindee Lakes twice in four years, killing the system".

Days on from Sunday's discovery of the huge fish kill, fisheries staff have mostly left and the bulk of the corpses of bony herring, perches and Murray Cod are disintegrating or sinking from view.

He said the Murray-Darling Basin Authority could also appear to answer some questions too.

Arnold says members of the government "have to be bloody disgusted with yourself, politicians and cotton grower manipulators".

But the peak body for Australian irrigators - the National Irrigators' Council - has hit back insisting farmers on the river's north have received no allocation of water in the past 12 months.

"The Murray-Darling Basin Plan was established to improve the health of our rivers and floodplains and to avoid the types of ecological disaster we have witnessed with the Menindee fish deaths", Ms Slattery said. This is not because of the drought, she says, it is "man made" and could have been avoided had several years of water in Menindee Lakes not been squandered.

Proprietary technology to monitor water quality "significantly reduces the risk of fish mortality events such as those now occurring on the Darling River".

The DPI said ongoing dry conditions and a recent big temperature drop could have caused the deaths.

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