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Response to fish deaths in the Lower Darling

The Lower Darling was subject to tragic fish death events in December 2018 and January 2019. The large fish death events covered a 40 kilometre stretch of the Darling River, downstream of Menindee Lakes. The exact number of fish deaths is unknown. Anecdotal estimates ranged from hundreds of thousands to at least three million.

Basin governments are working together to establish a comprehensive work program to manage the risk of future fish deaths and to respond to the final report by the Independent Panel into fish deaths in the Lower Darling, led by Professor Rob Vertessy.

Downloads

Independent Panel assessment of fish deaths in the Lower Darling

An independent panel was appointed by the Australian Government, to assess fish death events in December 2018 and January 2019. A preliminary report and early advice and recommendations was provided to the Australian Government Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources on 20 February 2019. The final report was released in April 2019, along with a summary of the report findings.

Summary of final report of Independent Panel into fish deaths in the Lower Darling
Final report of Independent Panel into fish deaths in the Lower Darling
Interim report of Independent assessment of the 2018–19 fish deaths in the Lower Darling
Independent assessment - Terms of Reference
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Recommended action plan
Response to recent fish death events: recommended action plan

A number of areas across the Basin have been identified as risk areas for fish death events. Basin governments are already implementing actions on the ground to mitigate these risks and respond to the events in the Lower Darling. A recommended action plan was provided to the Australian Government Minister responsible for water in January 2019.

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Independent review—Stratification, mixing and fish deaths in the lower Darling River
Stratification, mixing and fish deaths in the Lower Darling River

Following the fish death events in the Lower Darling River in December 2018 and January 2019, the Murray–Darling Basin Authority commissioned a comprehensive monitoring program to examine stratification, mixing and dissolved oxygen concentrations in the Lower Darling River.

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Assessing the response to the risk of hypoxia in the lower Darling River
Assessing the response to the risk of hypoxia in the lower Darling River November 2019 - March 2020

Following the well documented fish deaths in the lower Darling River in the summer of 2018–19, the Murray–Darling Basin Authority and NSW Department of Primary Industries–Fisheries deployed 10 aerators from November 2019 until March 2020 to provide oxygenated refuges. 

As part of the deployment, a monitoring program was undertaken to determine the effectiveness of the aerators, with the findings discussed in this report. 

Updated: 28 Oct 2020  •   MDBA reports