The Darling River’s aquatic ecology is so degraded it has change into extinct and iconic fish species including the Murray cod face an unsure future, in accordance to one amongst Australia’s most revered fish scientists.
- Dr Rowland says prolonged drought and irrigation have created an ecological catastrophe in the Darling River
- He says a 2003 file declaring the Darling endangered become as soon as met with a tenfold magnify in water extraction
- The NSW Govt says it has restocked the Darling with 60,000 Murray cod fingerlings
Dr Stuart Rowland labored for the New South Wales Department of Predominant Industries for 33 years till 2011. He is credited with describing the biology of the Murray cod and developed hatchery ways for a vogue of native fish species.
He has written a ebook called The Codfather about his life’s work and the challenges going by the Murray cod.
He acknowledged prolonged drought and over-extraction of water for irrigation led to an ecological catastrophe in the lower Darling round Menindee between 2018 and 2020, which killed substantial numbers of fish.
“The design is so changed and it is so degraded now that the fashioned form of ecosystem that we knew on the flip of the century, the flip of the 1900s and into the 2000s is correct no longer and in my understanding, it is a tool that has correct gone extinct.”
Murray cod in risk
Dr Rowland become as soon as a member of a NSW Fisheries Scientific Committee that declared the lower Darling an endangered ecological design in 2003 nevertheless its suggestions, including limiting water extracted for irrigation additional up the design, were no longer adopted.
As an alternative, he acknowledged, “there become as soon as a tenfold magnify in water extraction”.
“Water extraction is no longer a instruct if the flows are excessive and the river is in flood, nevertheless for low, low rivers, it is really serious,” he acknowledged.
The impacts on the river gained national attention with mass fish kills across the Menindee Lakes two years ago.
“The native fish is where we we watch the results of this mismanagement, attributable to they die,” Dr Rowland acknowledged.
Dr Rowland acknowledged the Darling River snail and the trout cod had already gone extinct and the Murray-Darling river design become as soon as “no longer the stronghold of Murray cod”.
“And so this iconic species is correct really in pains in that river,” he acknowledged.
Battle to restock
The NSW Govt in 2019 dedicated $10 million as segment of its native fish drought response, including the most attention-grabbing effort to this stamp rescue and relocate higher than 5,000 native fish from drying waterways to hatcheries or extra stable habitats across the issue.
More than 60,000 Murray cod fingerlings were launched in the lower Darling between Menindee and Wentworth in December. They were bred from stock rescued from the river in 2019.
A Department spokesman acknowledged native fish had suffered from the worst drought on file over three years and had handiest correct begun to salvage properly.
“NSW DPI Fisheries is supporting native fish restoration by ensuring that native fish have the option to pass, breed and entire their life cycles,” the spokesman acknowledged.
Dr Rowland acknowledged restocking become as soon as no longer a panacea and although Murray cod might well perchance perchance perchance furthermore continue to exist in the design, numbers would by no system return to what they were correct 50 years ago. Mandatory breeding alternatives were lost in the fish cancel catastrophe two years ago.
Despite the truth that the river flooded again he doubted its aquatic ecosystem might well perchance perchance perchance furthermore salvage properly.
“It is possible you’ll perchance perchance perchance furthermore salvage extra Murray cod and some golden perch and bony bream and varied species,” Dr Rowland acknowledged.
“They’d perchance perchance perchance furthermore dangle in there and when the gargantuan freshes and the floods advance, the design will reignite.