The death of thousands of fish on Monday in a major Australian river was blamed on drought by local officials. (Photo by from FACEBOOK)

Thousands of fish die in 3rd mass death in Australian river

CANBERRA, Australia — Hundreds of thousands of fish died on Monday in the third mass death in recent weeks on a stretch of a major Australian river that local officials blamed on drought but critics said at least partly stemmed from water mismanagement.

The latest deaths began overnight in the Darling River near the township of Menindee in western New South Wales state. That’s the same area where hundreds of thousands of fish were found floating dead in early January and shortly before Christmas.

Hot weather is suspected of causing algae to bloom, then cooler overnight temperatures caused the algae to die, which starved the water of oxygen.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian blamed the poor water quality on an extended drought that is gripping most of the state.

Minister for Regional Water Niall Blair said his department knew weather conditions were “terrible” and had deployed two solar-powered aerators in the Menindee region. The government bought 16 aerators to deploy in waterways around the state after the last mass fish death on Jan. 6-7.

“Unfortunately, there’s nothing that anyone has been able to point to — no scientist, no locals, no one has been able to point to anything else that could prevent something like this other than freshwater coming into the system and we just don’t have that,” Blair told reporters.

Menindee Regional Tourist Association president Rob Gregory, who operates river cruises, said governments had allowed farmers to take too much water from the river to irrigate over the last four years.

“Now we’ve got no reserve to flush the system and we’ve seen depleted oxygen due to blue-green algal bloom and this is the end result,” Gregory said.

“This is probably the last fish kill we’ll have because there’s nothing left to kill,” he added.

The Murray-Darling Basin is Australia’s main river system. It winds across four states and produces a third of the nation’s food.

Menindee resident Graeme McCrabb said the fish deaths highlighted how the water basin’s water management plan “is failing the whole system.”

“There’s been 13 billion (Australian) dollars ($9.3 billion) of taxpayers’ money being spent here to end up with … an absolute mess,” McCrabb told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

With a federal election to be called before the end of May, opposition environment spokesman Tony Burke called for a scientific explanation for the latest fish deaths.

“The last river I was at was the Darling, where you can just see the ecological disaster that’s occurring,” Burke told reporters.

By The Associated Press

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Day 1 of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Here’s a look at what happened during the first day of the… Continue reading

Calgarian takes gold in women’s speedskating

Brooklyn McDougall competed in long track 1,500-metre speedskating event

Speedskaters pick up Alberta’s first Winter Games medals

Calgary’s Brooklyn McDougall wins gold and Lethbridge’s Kaleb Muller wins silver

Red Deer gymnast hopes to flip his way to a personal best

Zach Blakely is looking forward to the ‘community’ aspect of Games

Youngest Alberta athlete at Red Deer’s Canada Winter Games focuses on the win

Emily Liu, 10, beats much larger table tennis players

VIDEO: Community ‘comes together’ at opening ceremonies

The nation will focus its eyes on Red Deer for the next… Continue reading

South African activists try to protect endangered pangolins

JOHANNESBURG — As World Pangolin Day is marked around the globe, Saturday,… Continue reading

Fourteen ‘dream’ homes ordered evacuated as sinkholes open in Sechelt, B.C.

Greg and Gerry Latham spent Friday morning scrambling to pack up family… Continue reading

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual assault: British newspaper

LONDON — A British newspaper says police in London are investigating an… Continue reading

Graham: U.S. should be stronger on Canadians detained in China

MUNICH — U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday the response by the… Continue reading

Conservative leaders to attend pro-pipeline rally in Saskatchewan

By Stephanie Taylor THE CANADIAN PRESS MOOSOMIN, Sask. — Federal Tory leader… Continue reading

Games athletes making themselves at home at RDC

Red Deer College’s campus will be home for the athletes during the 2019 Canada Winter Games

Alix resident captures beams of light near Lacombe

Lacombe, Blackfalds, Red Deer photos have since gone viral around the world

Welcome message from the mayor

On behalf of Red Deer city council, the City of Red Deer… Continue reading

Most Read