10,000 FISH KILL: Richmond River is the latest river where a fish kill has occured.
10,000 FISH KILL: Richmond River is the latest river where a fish kill has occured.

10,000 fish dead in the Richmond River

THERESE Schier lives in Casino overlooking the Richmond River and when she looked out her window on Tuesday, January 21, she saw dead fish floating in the water.

"As the river goes down, the dead fish are getting caught in the rocks," Ms Schier said.

Richmond Valley Council confirmed about 10,000 fish perished in the stretch between 3.5km and 5km upstream of Jabour Weir in Casino.

"Fish kills of this scale are not unprecedented, but they are uncommon. We experienced a fish kill in 2017 and a fairly big one in 2001," a council spokeswoman said.

"It has been confirmed the kill was a result of low levels of dissolved oxygen, brought about by the warmer temperatures and the large presence of blue-green algae in the river. Low levels of dissolved oxygen can cause suffocation of aquatic animals as they rely on oxygen in the water to breathe."

Affected species include mullet, bass, catfish, shrimps, crayfish, fingerlings and bullrout.

Council's Environmental Health team is working closely with the Department of Primary Industries Fisheries to clean up the fish as quickly as possible.

DPI Fisheries estimate that thousands of native fish species of various sizes have been impacted and the Richmond River and creeks have been under extreme stress as a result of the ongoing drought.

"Immediately prior to the recent rain, water in the Jabour Weir pool was completely contained by the weir and the pool has experienced cyanobacteria blooms," a NSW Department of Primary Industries spokesman said.

"After the most recent welcomed rain in the region which caused increases in flows in the middle and upper reaches of the Richmond River, a rapid reduction in dissolved oxygen levels occurred within the weir pool likely caused by the inflow of organic matter and sediment that has built up during the extended drought, and also from the likely destratification of the weir pool waters."

DPI Fisheries relocated more than 3,000 fish from priority locations across the state as part of the NSW Native Fish Drought Response.

Community members are encouraged to report any fish deaths or observations through the Fishers Watch hotline on 1800 043 536.

• For more information on fish deaths, visit www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fish-deaths

For more information on the NSW Government's Native Fish Drought Response,

visit www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/nativefish

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