Australia's Darling River filled with dead fish in Menindee - Reuters

Australia’s Darling River filled with dead fish in Menindee – Reuters


Millions of dead fish clog a river in southeastern Australia, angering locals who have to endure the smell of rotting carcasses that have blanketed the water for days. Officials say it’s because of a lack of oxygen caused by rising temperatures and recent flooding, while residents blame the government for water mismanagement.

“There are dead fish everywhere,” Menindee resident Graeme McCrabb said on Sunday, describing the smell of the Darling-Baaka River in New South Wales as deep and pungent. Among the dead fish are native species such as bone bream, Murray cod, golden perch, silver perch and carp, he said.

The video he took from his boat showed a thick carpet of silvery fish carcasses above the water.

Australian officials have been aware of the disaster since Friday, grateful “a developing large-scale fish kill event” involving millions of carcasses in the river. The New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (DPI) blamed low levels of oxygen in the water, known as hypoxia, as floodwaters recede.

“The current warm weather in the region is also exacerbating hypoxia, as warmer water holds less oxygen than cold water, and fish have higher oxygen requirements at warmer temperatures,” said the agency on Friday in a statement. statement.

McCrabb said the same remote area had recorded large-scale fish deaths in December 2018 and January 2019, calling them a result of poor quality water entering the river, which is often used for fishing. But this time, McCrabb said, the disaster is much worse, and many townspeople are “angry and disappointed” that officials don’t appear to have learned from previous mass fish deaths.

“No one was ready for what was seen here,” McCrabb said, adding that officials had “failed in their duty” to manage the river and collect data to help prevent such disasters.

“If you know the water quality is good or bad, you can make more informed decisions about how water is discharged downstream from lakes and avoid sending black water downstream to kill fish. said McCrabb.

Blackwater Events occur “during floods when organic material is washed away from the riverbank and floodplain and into the river system,” according to the New South Wales Water Department.

The government said the dead fish were mainly bony herring, a species that experiences ups and downs in numbers.

“It ‘explodes’ in population numbers during periods of flooding and can then experience significant mortalities or ‘busts’ when flows return to more normal levels”, DPI Fisheries to say. “They may also be more susceptible to environmental stresses such as low oxygen levels, especially under extreme conditions such as the rising temperatures currently seen in the region. »

Cameron Lay, director of freshwater environments at DPI Fisheries, described the situation as “very distressing” and warned that temperatures over 100 degrees in the region could bring more challenges.

“This in itself may pose an ongoing risk to water quality and native fish, so we will do everything we can to monitor the situation and use any management options we have available to us,” he said, selon l’Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Accelerating climate change is warming waters and cooking creatures in their own habitats, experts say. Many species suffocate because warmer water cannot hold as much dissolved oxygen.

A study published last year found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, around a third of all marine animals could become extinct within 300 years.

Ocean animals face mass extinction due to climate change, study finds

The remote location of the recent fish deaths, in the far west of the state of New South Wales, only compounds the disaster. The rotting fish cover has been visible for at least three days. “It’s hard to get people here in a rush,” McCrabb said. “If you try to pick (the fish) up, you’re probably going to break them and leave fish soup. There really aren’t many answers.

Several agencies are working on a response to the disaster, the New South Wales DPI said.

The New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment’s Water Division has acknowledged “a large number of fish deaths” and to say “Dissolved oxygen levels remain a concern for fish health. »

“The reality is that the Darling River is very sick. Years of mismanagement by the New South Wales Government have exacerbated the impact of our climate change,” said Rose Jackson, Opposition Member of Parliament for New South Wales and Shadow Minister for Climate. ‘Water and Housing, wrote on Twitter. The ecosystem “has been pushed to the breaking point”.

On Sunday, McCrabb said fish continued to die in the water, adding to the already monumental loss of aquatic life. “We started losing more this afternoon,” he said, noting that some of the dead mass was starting to move downstream.

He said more deaths along the river would be likely in the coming days: “We are in a world of suffering here. »

Sarah Kaplan contributed to this report.

Selon les experts, l'accu00e9lu00e9ration du changement climatique ru00e9chauffe les eaux et fait cuire les cru00e9atures dans leurs propres habitats. De nombreuses espu00e8ces suffoquent parce que l'eau plus chaude ne peut pas contenir autant d'oxygu00e8ne dissous.

Une u00e9tude publiu00e9e l'annu00e9e derniu00e8re a ru00e9vu00e9lu00e9 que si les u00e9missions de gaz u00e0 effet de serre continuaient d'augmenter, environ un tiers de tous les animaux marins pourraient disparau00eetre d'ici 300 ans.

Les animaux de l'ocu00e9an sont confrontu00e9s u00e0 une extinction massive u00e0 cause du changement climatique, selon une u00e9tude

L'emplacement u00e9loignu00e9 des du00e9cu00e8s ru00e9cents de poissons, dans l'extru00eame ouest de l'u00c9tat de la Nouvelle-Galles du Sud, ne fait qu'aggraver la catastrophe. La couverture de poissons en du00e9composition est visible depuis au moins trois jours. u00ab Il est difficile d'amener les gens ici u00e0 la hu00e2te u00bb, a du00e9claru00e9 McCrabb. "Si vous essayez de choisir (the fish) vers le haut, vous allez probablement les casser et laisser une soupe de poisson. Il n'y a pas vraiment beaucoup de ru00e9ponses.

Plusieurs agences travaillent sur une ru00e9ponse u00e0 la catastrophe, a du00e9claru00e9 le DPI de la Nouvelle-Galles du Sud.

La division de l'eau du du00e9partement de la planification et de l'environnement de la Nouvelle-Galles du Sud a reconnu "un grand nombre de du00e9cu00e8s de poissons" et a dit "Les niveaux d'oxygu00e8ne dissous restent une pru00e9occupation pour la santu00e9 des poissons."

u00ab La ru00e9alitu00e9 est que la riviu00e8re Darling est tru00e8s malade. Des annu00e9es de mauvaise gestion par le gouvernement de la Nouvelle-Galles du Sud ont exacerbu00e9 l'impact de notre changement climatique u00bb, a du00e9claru00e9 Rose Jackson, membre de l'opposition au Parlement de la Nouvelle-Galles du Sud et ministre fantu00f4me de l'Eau et du Logement, u00e9crit sur Twitter. L'u00e9cosystu00e8me "a u00e9tu00e9 poussu00e9 au point de rupture".

Dimanche, McCrabb a du00e9claru00e9 que les poissons continuaient de mourir dans l'eau, ajoutant u00e0 la perte du00e9ju00e0 monumentale de la vie aquatique. "Nous avons commencu00e9 u00e0 perdre plus cet apru00e8s-midi", a-t-il du00e9claru00e9, notant qu'une partie de la masse morte commenu00e7ait u00e0 se du00e9placer en aval.

Il a du00e9claru00e9 que d'autres du00e9cu00e8s le long de la riviu00e8re seraient probables dans les prochains jours: "Nous sommes dans un monde de souffrance ici."

Sarah Kaplan a contribuu00e9 u00e0 ce rapport.

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