Australia discloses plan to prevent mass fish deaths

Australia on map [Photo credit: Operation World]
Australia on map [Photo credit: Operation World]

The Australian government will spend 49.8 million U.S. dollars to prevent further mass fish deaths in the nation’s biggest river system.

The minister for Water Resources and Agriculture, David Littleproud, on Wednesday said the government was committed to taking action against the phenomenon.

The issue had resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of fish in the Murray and Darling rivers during summer.

The funding included 17.8 million U.S. dollars for water meters, in the Murray-Darling basin, which is Australia’s most significant agricultural area.

The other is a 3.5 million U.S. dollars for cameras to live stream water flow and 14.2 million U.S. dollars for water and environment research.

“It was an extreme event and obviously a tragic event. It’s not the first one and it won’t be the last,’’ Littleproud told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Wednesday.

A government-commissioned investigation into the deaths by climate and water management expert Rob Vertessy, which was released in February, found that low water flows, poor water quality and sudden temperature changes were responsible for the deaths.

Mr Vertessy made 27 recommendations for the future management of the basin, including greater transparency and improved monitoring of the system.

Mr Littleproud said he had accepted 10 of the recommendations and was working with state governments on the remaining 17.

He said the best way to prevent future fish deaths was the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, the government’s national plan to manage the basin as a connected system rather than on a state-by-state basis.

“Improving our water management between the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and the states is paramount, and understanding that these extreme weather events will happen again and we need to be better equipped to handle that and be prepared for that,’’ Mr Littleproud said.


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