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Report into the Menindee fish deaths highlights urgent need for action

31st August 2023  

The Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales (NCC), the state’s leading environmental advocacy organisation, has today responded to the release of the Chief Scientist’s report into the Menindee fish deaths1 with an urgent message to the NSW government: take action now or risk another devastating kish fill event. 

The report states that further mass fish deaths are likely and points the finger to historic water mismanagement, leading to a degradation of the broader river ecosystem.  

As the report states, none of these issues are new, they have been reported on and ignored repeatedly for years.  

Statements attributable to Mel Gray, NCC Water Campaigner  

“The Baaka River has lost its heartbeat. Now there’s only extreme dry and extreme flood – as a result we are seeing the river in its death throes. 

“Since the summer of 2019, the community has been continually rocked by waves of fish kills, both in times of drought and flood.”  

NCC’s submission to the Chief Scientists report into the Menindee fish deaths points to serious deficits in water management in NSW, including the recent licencing of large volumes of water through floodplain harvesting. 

“We actually do have strong laws in NSW to make sure the river is looked after before water is pumped out but these laws are useless if they’re not put into practice.  

“The last severe drought saw catastrophic fish kills, rivers reduced to disconnected green pools, wetlands on fire and 90 regional cities and towns staring down day zero. 

“NSW Labor have an opportunity to avoid inland NSW running out of water in the next severe drought.  

“It is encouraging that NSW won’t be outright blocking the Commonwealth from buying more water from the many willing sellers in NSW.   

“However, it’s critical that the Minns government doesn’t entertain bizarre projects that only increase the value of corporate assets and leave the rivers and native fish without the water they need.” 

WaterNSW, who manage the rivers through a series of dams and weirs, is a corporation whose principal objective is turning a profit, not looking after the river. 

“WaterNSW wield a lot of power over the rivers, it’s deeply concerning that their principal objective is ‘turn a profit’ rather than ‘do no harm’.” 

Statement ends 

Media contact: Clancy Barnard 
E: [email protected]  Ph: 0438 869 332 

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