Reports of fish kill on Lake Hume appear greatly exaggerated

One dead carp near the Bowna Arm boat ramp on Tuesday. Picture: KYLIE ESLER
One dead carp near the Bowna Arm boat ramp on Tuesday. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

Albury Mayor Kevin Mack has cast doubt on a claim from minister for primary industries and water Niall Blair that up to 1800 fish had been killed on Lake Hume.

Mr Blair made the claim at a press conference more than 800km away, at Lake Keepit, which the ABC and The Guardian reported on Tuesday morning, sending social media into a frenzy.

It comes a week after almost a million fish died at Menindee Lakes following an algal bloom.

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Cr Mack said on Tuesday afternoon that he had no reason to believe Mr Blair’s claim.

It appears the minister may have been speaking about 60 dead carp, a pest, which the NSW Department of Primary Industries said it had found near the Bowna Arm boat ramp.

“I’m not sure where Niall Blair is getting his information,” Cr Mack said.

“Fish kills on Lake Hume are as rare as houseboats.

“I’ve spoken with the water authorities today and they say the water quality on Lake Hume has never been better.

“They’re out there on the water every day, they live and breathe it.”

Shortly after Mr Blair said 1800 fish had been killed, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young took to Twitter: “Another mass fish kill, this time on the Murray River at Lake Hume. Our river system is crying out for help. The environment is in collapse. We need urgent action to secure environmental flows to give the River a drink. Cotton, corruption & climate change is making our River sick”.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries released a statement saying it had located 60 dead carp, a pest in our waterways, near the Bowna Arm boat ramp.

The department said the cause had not been identified, "however there are no algal or dissolved oxygen issues noticeable. Fishing mortality is one potential cause".

Paul Humphries, a fish and river ecologist with Charles Sturt University, said algal blooms in the Murray are "usually sourced from Lake Hume".

Given the period of very high temperatures in the region, an algal bloom in the Hume storage "is certainly a major concern," Dr Humphries said.

Hume Dam was at 36.53 per cent capacity on Monday, holding 1097.8Gl, at a height of 179.7m. It was 35.8 per cent on Sunday. This time last year the dam was at 66.57 per cent.