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December 2, 2021

Byron Bay fish kill blamed on interference

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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 https://www.echo.net.au/2013/01/fish-kill-sparks-blame-game/

‘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.


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