Byron Bay fish kill blamed on interference

Tallow Creek_24_11_17_630am_007_resize Thousands of fish have been killed at Tallow Creek in Byron Bay in what is blamed on locals again interfering with the natural flow of the waterway.

And local conservationist Dailan Pugh says it’s not over yet.

Mr Pugh, who took these photographs, told Echonetdaily that the marine parks authority ‘needs an emergency response procedure as it was obvious since yesterday morning that this was going to happen’.

Fish kills have occurred in the creek several times in the past four years, in 2013 and in March last year, both which stirred a public outcry. (See previous story at

‘For the past two weeks people have been trying to open the Tallow Creek estuary, their efforts bore fruit late on Wednesday night, the data for Tallow Creek (at the bridge) show the opening starting at midnight,’ he said.

‘Unfortunately with no significant rainfall and inflows of oxygenated waters it was obvious by midday Thursday that there would be a major fish kill.

‘Birds had gathered from all around in anticipation. The consequences began to become apparent on Thursday evening. Once the surface waters had run out the fish were left stranded in increasingly deoxygenated waters.

‘By sunset the developing disaster was apparent, on a 100m length of the bank over a hundred whiting were dead on the bank and hundreds more whiting, flathead, a few bream and thousands of fingerlings were around the edge of the estuary seeking oxygen near the surface, one large stingray was laying on the bottom with its head out of the water to get oxygen.

‘By 11pm on the same stretch over 300 dead fish (mostly whiting) and one stingray were observed, and there were thousands of fish gasping in the shallows, many half out of the water. Numerous mullets, some eels and a variety of other species had been added to the mix.

‘By 6.30 this morning the numbers of dead fish on the same stretch had increased to over a thousand. The total toll was many thousands of fish. Dead fish could be seen all around the banks of the estuary and many dead fish had sunk to the bottom of the estuary or washed out to sea.

‘Slow suffocation must be a horrible death.

Read Mr Pugh’s subsequent comments about the fish kill that he says saw the entire fish population of the estuary wiped out by Saturday.

‘Since the last human induced fish kill in March the estuary has opened naturally on a number of occasions with no fish kills.

‘This time human intervention is again responsible for the outcome. This is on their heads. I ask those responsible whether this cost was worth it to stop the flooding of the swamp in their backyard.

‘We need to stop people interfering with the estuary opening and causing fish kills.

‘If anyone knows who was responsible for this kill please report them to the Marine Parks Authority because, aside from being an environmental crime, their actions were illegal.

‘If anyone wants to find out more about the dynamics of Intermittently Closed and Open Lakes and Lagoons (ICOLLs) there was a comprehensive study of Tallow and Belongil estuaries a decade ago.

‘This report was done when Tallow Creek was still a sewerage outfall, it has had a decade to recover and will be in far better condition now,’ Mr Pugh said.


One response to “Byron Bay fish kill blamed on interference”

  1. Josephine Beams says:

    Thank you Dailan for your tireless work once again on behalf of life and sanity in this Shire. J

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers.