Local fish hit hard

Drought and fire have taken a toll on Eurobodalla’s native fish.

Reduced river flow during drought conditions sees fish unable to access their usual range and water heating quickly on hot summer days. These conditions reduce the available oxygen in our waterways and fish die.

Fish kills – mass mortality of fish – have recently been recorded in the shire at Tilba Lake, Whittakers Creek and the Deua River, and bushfire presents additional threats to our native fish stock.

During a fire the water in creeks and small pools can heat to the point where fish die. Then, after a fire has passed, ash and sediment falls or is washed by rain into waterways. Water becomes murky and there may be a sudden drop in oxygen when bacteria proliferate as they feed on the influx of organic matter.

Above: Eurobodalla Council’s Landcare coordinator Emma Patyus and natural resources supervisor Heidi Thomson along the burnt-out bank of the Deua River.

Manager of environmental services Deb Lenson said Council would monitor water quality in local estuaries and is working with South East Local Land Services to install some sediment and erosion control to help protect the shire’s waterways.

“We’re seeking funding under the NSW Government’s Bushfire Affected Coastal Waterways program to implement immediate measures which help protect water quality and coastal ecosystems,” Ms Lenson said.

“In turn, this assists our tourism and aquaculture industries. We’ll also be seeking technical and financial support for longer-term help for our waterways. The task has only just begun, our native flora and fauna will need a lot of help.

“Forecast rain this weekend is much needed but will bring with it a host of new issues for the natural environment.”

Ms Lenson said residents and visitors could help the shire’s native fish by keeping an eye on local waterways, reporting any gasping fish or fish kills to the Department of Primary Industries’ Fishers Watch Phoneline on 1800 043 536.

Above: Full size Australian bass were found dead during a recent survey of bushfire impact on the Deua River.