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Byron Shire
December 8, 2022

Concern over Belongil Creek fish kill event

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An investigation is underway into a fish kill event in Belongil Creek earlier this month.

On November 13 a local resident noticed 30 to 40 dead mullet washed up and floating near the shore of the creek between the rail bridge and the car bridge.

‘There was evidence that other fish had been eating the dead mullet and I noted some oil or grease on the surface of the water,’ the resident told The Echo.
‘I am not sure if this was pollution or natural – perhaps oil from the partially eaten and decomposing fish,’ he said.

Image of the recent fish kill event at Belongil Creek. Image supplied

The resident contacted Byron Council who investigated the matter.

Council’s Coast, Biodiversity and Sustainability Coordinator, Chloe Dowsett, confirmed that the fish fill had taken place.

‘We’ve notified NSW DPI Fisheries, the agency that formally investigates fish kills, and an investigation is ongoing,’ Ms Dowsett said.

NSW DPI Fisheries recently issued a reminder to communities to watch out for the impacts of extreme climate shifts on local fish populations.

NSW DPI Fisheries Deputy Director General Sean Sloan said native fish had been put through the wringer over the past few years, with drought, bushfires and floods.

‘We want people in our river communities to be alert for fish deaths in the coming days and weeks due to significant rainfall across most of the state,’ Mr Sloan said.

‘This has resulted in extensive inundation of floodplain areas, with associated impacts on water quality causing risks for fish.

‘These flood events can wash a lot of organic matter into the river, such as grasses, leaves and fallen vegetation. The rapid breakdown of this material can strip oxygen from the water.

‘If dissolved oxygen drops to very low levels, this can cause ‘hypoxic blackwater’, which can be stressful for native fish, especially over long periods, and can lead to fish deaths.

‘Water temperatures in the rivers are also increasing due to the hot weather, speeding up the whole process and increasing the likelihood of low oxygen levels.’

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

For more information on fish deaths, visit the NSW DPI website.


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3 COMMENTS

  1. Not to be too picky but proof reading is in order – the first sentence, “fill kill”, I presume should read ‘fish kill’.

    ABC News reported yesterday of fish kills in parts of Murray-Darling -a ‘blackwater event’.
    Something similar happening in Belongil Creek?

  2. Good article Eve, giving full information on DPI actions and possible causes.
    Afterall, this is hardly the first fish-kill on Belongil Creek, or even locally due to our numerous “black-water” events.
    Perhaps the opening-p of the sandbar on the mouth (yet again) could ease drainage temporarily ?
    But that action seems to be solely within the bailiwick of our local Byron-based NPWS.

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