A million fish have been found dead recently in revers in southeastern Australia, a hecatomb attributed by the government to drought, and academics mismanagement of rivers.
The Banks of the immense Murray-Darling watershed now stink and there are countless videos made by local elected officials or local residents to alert public opinion on this ecological disaster.
The authorities have estimated the lose to several hundred thousand dead fish, and the figure of one million could be exceeded already, while the government of the Sate of New South Wales fears a worsening of the crisis, with temperatures announced this week on the rise.
In addition to drought, declining river levels and rising temperatures may have also encouraged the spread of algae that would deprive fish of oxygen and release toxins
“We expect to see more dead fish in parts of the far West (New South Wales State) and the (tableland) Northern Tablelands,” Said the Minister of Water from the state, Niall Blair.
Although located in the southeast of the Island-continent, this disaster has a national impact.
“It’s an ecological disaster,” Said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday. “It’s a shocking show”
Morrison’s government attributed the drought to the hecatomb, while defending certain policies that local residents believe have created pollution and declining water levels. “There is a drought and this is one of the consequences of the drought,” Morrison said.
Researchers have been warning for years, however, that wild and uncontrolled extraction of large quantities of water from rivers, fro irrigation, or for other purposes is needed.
“The death of fish and streams is not the result of drought, because we draw too much water from our rivers,” says John Williams, an expert in water pollution at the Australian National University.
Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten called on the government to create an “emergency working group” on the environmental disaster. “We can not close our eyes to the death of a million fish,” he said.
The Prime Minister also said that the management of the Murray-Darling Basin, which is the largest watershed in the country, had been bipartite, and that his government had only followed the policies previously conducted by the Labor Party, “I’m worried today that some people are politicizing this issue,” he said.
But given the magnitude of the ongoing disaster academics are now demanding accountability from politicians.
“Billions have been spent on renovating irrigation infrastructure,” said Quentin Grafton of the Australian National University. “But the people have not benefited from it.”
“It’s a shame and it’s time for officials to report on the disasters unfolding.”