Australian police say removing millions of dead fish from Darling River near Menindee will be a ‘logistical nightmare’ | world news

Removing millions of rotting fish from a river in Australia’s outback will be a “logistical nightmare”, police say.

Fish started to die in the Darling River near the town of Menindee in New South Wales, where temperatures hit 40C on Friday.

Experts say the die-off likely happened because fish, mainly bone bream, cod and perch, need more oxygen in hot weather, but oxygen levels in the water have plummeted after recent flooding receded.

Deputy Police Commissioner Brett Greentree said keeping the city’s water supply clean was the top priority and disposing of dead fish was the second most pressing issue.

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Hot weather and low oxygen levels caused fatalities. Photo: ABC/AP

Trained contractors have been contacted to remove the fish with nets, but dates for the work have not yet been set.

Residents have expressed anger over the delay in starting the cleanup operation and are concerned about contamination of their water supply.

“I certainly don’t promise that all the millions of fish will be removed by contractors, because it really is a logistical nightmare,” Mr Greentree said.

“I understand and recognize the smell and the river views – no one wants to see that,” he added.

Authorities were providing drinking water to residents who depend on water from the river, the quality of which was continuously monitored, Mr Greentree added.

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Huge fish kills also occurred on the river in Menindee during severe drought conditions in late 2018 and early 2019.

Joy Becker, professor of aquatic animal health at the University of Sydney, said it would take a long time for the river’s ecosystem to recover.

“That means those (fish) populations may not rebound as quickly or with the same magnitude,” she said.

“Pest species can actually take over this place, which makes it even more difficult to recover native fish.”

Sky news

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