Mystery surrounds a large fish kill event following unknown pollution entering Belongil Creek early last week.
Both Byron Shire Council staff and the NSW Department of Primary Industry (DPI) are investigating, yet have been unable to confirm with The Echo the cause, which has seen thousands of fish die.
A resident living on the Belongil creek near the railway bridge told The Echo that since Wednesday last week, there has been noticeable pollution in the creek.
‘I haven’t seen anything like it in 21 years,’ he said.
A DPI spokesperson told The Echo DPI Fisheries staff attended Belongil Creek on Friday last week and ‘observed 100 – 1000s of fish along the waters’ edge of the creek from the railway bridge to the creek mouth.’
‘A variety of species were noted including mullet, whiting, bream, flathead, mangrove jack, trevally, milk fish, luderick, puffer fish and bullrout. The suspected cause is critically low levels of dissolved oxygen, associated with high levels of suspended sediment in the water which drained into the creek following the opening of Belongil Creek.
‘DPI Fisheries is continuing to work with Council on the event at Belongil Creek and the community is reminded to report any observations of fish kills to Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536.’
Meanwhile, Council staff say they have taken water samples and sent them to a laboratory for testing. They said, ‘It is expected the results will be available in the coming week.
Staff believe this could be a natural phenomenon associated with Council’s recent opening of the estuary to the ocean which was necessary because of high water levels associated with ex tropical cyclone Oma and king tides.
‘Council has a licence from NSW Crown Lands to open the estuary to the ocean when water levels are above 1m at the Ewingsdale Bridge. The artificial opening created a rapid draw-down of water (release of water to the ocean) which could have resulted in deoxygenated water and a fish kill. The discolouration could be a result of iron bacteria.’