Widespread Rain Welcome Despite Possible Short-Term Impacts

7 Feb 2020

With heavy rainfall forecast across many parts of the State in coming days, NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries has encouraged people to report any fish deaths which may result from poor water quality stemming from run-off.

NSW DPI Fisheries Drought Response Coordinator, Cameron Lay said the predicted rain was a welcome relief following some of the hottest and driest conditions on record.

“These forecast rains will add much-needed inflows into some of the driest systems in the state, which will be a boon for native fish and the wider aquatic ecosystem,” he said.

“The resumption of flow and subsequent replenishment of refuge holes and connectivity along waterways will provide long-term benefits to native fish populations during the current drought period.

“Unfortunately in the short term, heavy rain following drought can wash organic matter and sediment which has built up during the dry period into the rivers.

“In areas that have suffered through the recent bushfires, ash and debris from those events can also be swept along with the run-off into the rivers.

“This can reduce water quality and lower the level of available oxygen, which can be dangerous for native fish in river systems that have already been stressed by the drought.”

Over the past five months, DPI Fisheries has identified high priority areas where fish are most at risk of further population decline and conducted fish rescue and relocation operations, with over 4,000 native fish rescued across NSW in collaboration with landholders, community groups, recreational fishers, and other Government agencies.

The rescued fish have been relocated to safer habitat areas within their population range where possible, or moved to hatcheries for housing, breeding, and restocking when conditions improve.

For more significant fish deaths and associated clean up events, DPI Fisheries can provide assistance to local Councils with planning, and has prepared a list of contractors ready to assist with clean up.

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

For more information on the NSW Government’s Native Fish Drought Response, visit www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/nativefish

Media contact: (02) 6391 3686