Fisheries expert: Darling River ecology "extinct" and Murray cod "in real trouble"

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The mass fish kill in the Darling River at Menindee in January, 2019, stunned the nation. Image: Debbie Newitt

ACCORDING to an ABC news article, Dr Stuart Rowland, one of Australia's most respected fish scientists, says the Darling River's aquatic ecology is so degraded it has become extinct and iconic fish species including the Murray cod face an uncertain future.

Dr Rowland says prolonged drought and irrigation have created an ecological disaster in the Darling River. He says a 2003 report declaring the Darling endangered was met with a tenfold increase in water extraction. The NSW Government says it has restocked the Darling with 60,000 Murray cod fingerlings

Dr Rowland has written a book called The Codfather about his life's work and the challenges facing the Murray cod.

Dr Rowland says prolonged drought and over-extraction of water for irrigation led to an ecological disaster in the lower Darling around Menindee between 2018 and 2020, which killed huge numbers of fish.

"I would describe it as an extinct system," Dr Rowland said.

"The system is so changed and it's so degraded now that the original sort of ecosystem that we knew at the turn of the century, the turn of the 1900s and into the 2000s is just no longer and in my opinion, it's a system that has just gone extinct," he said.

Dr Rowland said restocking was not a panacea and although Murray cod might survive in the system, numbers would never return to what they were just 50 years ago. Even if the river flooded again he doubted its aquatic ecosystem could recover.

Source: ABC

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