Call to reinstate Fisheries Office in Broken Hill
Images of the fish kills in the Darling River have been beamed around the world – they have become the headline image when people talk of drought and water mismanagement issues in the Murray Darling Basin.
Images of dead 100 year old cod have become part of our history– all be it a sad part – as has become the efforts of hundreds of volunteers working to rescue fish from the remaining waterholes in our rivers.
People are volunteering their weekends to rescue fish to protect them for our future generations.
Late last year, off the back of concerns from these volunteers, I petitioned the Agriculture Minister for fishing bans on the Darling River.
These bans are now in place around the aerators installed to oxygenate the remaining water for these fish. These bans come with $500 fines for anyone found to be fishing in this area.
These bans will give the relocated fish a chance to survive this protracted drought.
What’s concerning about these bans and the fines, is that across Western NSW, there are just 21 Fisheries Officers to enforce these rules. None are currently located in the Far West.
In 2008, the NSW Government closed the Fisheries Office in Broken Hill. With the huge impact this drought and water mismanagement is having on fish populations in the Darling River, I am calling on the government to reinstate the Fisheries Office in Broken Hill and to have a Compliance Officer operating out of that office.
Reinstating this office will support our fish populations re-establishing when water returns to the Darling.
I have formally asked the Minister for Agriculture to reinstate the office in Broken Hill – he’s said they’ll consider it.
The NSW Government has invested large amounts of money in fish rescue – it makes sense to me that they invest in their protection and reinstate the Fisheries Office.