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Published: 13 August 2019   •   Media release

An independent report identifies ways to apply the lessons learnt from last summer’s fish death response to the upcoming summer in an effort to provide the best protection for native fish.

Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) Chief Executive, Phillip Glyde, said the report identified a number of risk factors that would indicate deteriorating water quality.

“This report also looks at the effectiveness of interventions, particularly aerator performance; identifies knowledge gaps; and recommends improvements to the monitoring program,” Mr Glyde said.

“Steady and significant rain right across the northern Basin is the only thing that will improve the condition for our communities and our environment, and for the native fish that rely on our rivers.

“With weather forecasts currently pointing to a continuation of hot and dry conditions we have to prepare for the real possibility that there will be more tragic fish deaths this summer, particularly in the Macquarie, Namoi, Peel, Barwon-Darling and in the Lower Darling valleys.

“This report is an example of the work the MDBA is undertaking so we can best support New South Wales’ efforts in the Lower Darling ahead of a return to high temperatures.

“The report found that when temperatures fall by more than eight degrees in a 24-hour period, stratified water can mix and cause a lack of oxygen that fish can’t cope with.

“This information will help ensure the monitoring New South Wales undertakes is looking for the right warning signals.

“The report also gives us good information about the best way to intervene at particular sites if warning signals are triggered.

“It shows that the more powerful aerators make more of a difference in keeping waterholes at sufficient quality. It’s important to remember that even the most effective aerators can only sustain water quality in an area about the size of a tennis court.

“They are important short-term interventions that can help, but they can’t prevent large-scale events.

“We are working with NSW government agencies to implement the recommendations from this report and carry out short-term interventions to maintain fish refuges in the Lower Darling in the coming months.

“As always there is a lot more work we can do to better understand the factors at play.

“This work will also be in-line with and inform the Native Fish Management Recovery Strategy that is currently in development.”

The report, Stratification, mixing and fish deaths in the Lower Darling River, is available on the MDBA website.


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