Thousands of fish wash up dead near Moruya in latest mass fish kill event
Residents at Lake Meringo near Moruya on the New South Wales Far South Coast this week have been shocked to find thousands of dead fish and other marine life along the lagoon’s shoreline.
It is the second major fish kill event in the region in the past five weeks.
The discovery follows a number of fish kill events around the country in recent months, where millions of fish have died.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) said it had investigated the matter at Lake Meringo, and the main species affected included black bream, gudgeons, mullet, eels and luderick.
The DPI said the suspected cause related to the very low water levels at Lake Meringo and resulting poor water quality.
“At these low levels, coastal lakes are very susceptible to high water temperatures, algal growth, and low dissolved oxygen,” a DPI spokeswoman said.
“Poor water quality in coastal lakes is likely to continue, without significant rainfall.”
According to the DPI, the whole far south coast remained affected by drought.
Meringo resident Gillianne Tedder said she only knew of one other fish kill at the same place.
She said it was distressing to see such a remarkable loss of life “in the thousands” in the waterway.
“It’s quite staggering and really worrying to see how much life is in there and how much of that is now dead,” she said.
The DPI says the fish have died because of low water levels and resulting poor water quality. (Supplied: Gillianne Tedder)
Ms Tedder said it had brought the issue of climate change into her own backyard.
“We’re down in that area several times a week and it’s a beautiful, beautiful lagoon — it’s the sort of reason why you move to an environment like this,” she said.
Thousands of snapper dead near Tathra
In February, thousands of fish were found dead in a similar event around 130 kilometres south of Moruya, near Tathra.
A fish kill at Wallagoot, near Tathra, saw thousands of snapper wash up dead in February. (ABC South East: Vanessa Milton)
At the time, the DPI confirmed a large number of snapper and some leatherjackets had washed ashore at various locations around Wallagoot Lake.
Investigations by the DPI and the local council confirmed poor water quality was the cause.
“Dissolved oxygen levels are poor throughout the lake … this poor water quality is suspected to be the result of run-off from recent heavy rain in the catchment of Wallagoot Lake,” the DPI said.
Doug Reckord, principal of the Bournda Environmental Education Centre said, in a world affected by climate change, our waterways were going to be more vulnerable to low oxygen events in the future.
“Unfortunately, that’s just going to be a part of the world that we live in — that they will happen more frequently,” he said.
Mr Reckord said people were particularly moved by the images of dead fish as it was an indication of the health of the environment, adding that it was an emotional issue.
“When you’ve got lots of dead fish people understand that there’s something not right, and that it’s telling them something about the health of the ecosystem,” he said.