Looming "Fish Armageddon" prompts rescue package

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Fish kills this coming summer may dwarf those already seen in the Darling River, experts say.

THE NSW Government has announced a $10 million initiative to combat what the Agriculture Minister has described as a looming "Fish Armageddon", but critics say it is too little too late.

According to an article on the ABC website and as reported by Fisho HERE, there are fears of more fish kill events this summer with little prospect of rain, high temperatures and record low river inflows.

NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said the initiative was the largest-ever fish rescue and restocking program to protect native fish species.

It will involve a breeding program, using government and private hatcheries, to ensure long-term sustainability of native fish species such as the Murray cod and will include a $5 million expansion of the Fisheries Hatchery and Research Centre in Narrandera.

Mr Marshall said the expansion would help prevent the state's native fish species from ecological disaster

"And I say that, based on all the evidence — record-low water levels in most river systems right across the state, virtually no rain or no inflows into those river systems, and the Bureau of Meteorology predicting above average temperatures this summer.

"That's the perfect recipe for mass fish kills, that will literally dwarf the fish kill events that we saw last summer, particularly in the Menindee lakes and in western NSW," he said.

Conservation groups, however, have hit back at the Government and want to see changes to water policy and river management.

Nature Conservation Council Policy and Research Coordinator, Jack Gough said the policy was a 'bandaid' solution.

"This announcement is the National Party trying to stick a bandaid on a gaping, self-inflicted wound.

"Successive National Party water ministers have overseen a regime of over-extraction by large irrigation corporations which has undermined the resilience and health of our mighty inland rivers.

"Now they want credit for creating a fish zoo, rather than taking the necessary steps to ensure we have living, functioning river systems," Mr Gough said.

The Menindee Lake fish kills initially provoked anger amongst graziers who blamed irrigators upstream.

Since then a scathing independent review said over extraction was a contibuting factor in the fish kills and placed the blame squarely at the feet of consecutive NSW water ministers.

You can read the full article HERE.

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