The peak body for science and technology today commended two expert scientific reports investigating three mass fish kills in Menindee, NSW, and called for bipartisan support and action on their recommendations for the Murray Darling River System.
Science & Technology Australia said both reports, collated by leading scientists, have made clear findings that multiple waterflow issues are compromising the health of the waterway.
“Both reports have recommended measures to support more water in the Murray-Darling, and better planning for periods of drought based on closer scientific monitoring and modelling,” said STA President Professor Emma Johnston AO.
“Both reports also recommend closer engagement with the traditional owners who have been living and working with this river system for millennia.
“STA strongly encourages bipartisan support at all levels of government for the implementation of the recommendations made in both reports into the Murray-Darling fish crisis.
“Solving this complex problem with science is the way forward.”
The Australian Academy of Science’s report, Investigation of the causes of mass fish kills in the Menindee Region NSW over the summer of 2018-2019 this week detailed the findings of a panel of experts:
Chair of the expert panel, ANU Professor Craig Moritz FAA, said the review found:
“There isn’t enough water in the Darling system to avoid catastrophic outcomes. This is partly due to the ongoing drought. However, analysis of rainfall and river flow data over decades points to excess water extraction upstream.”
A second report commissioned by the Government, Independent Assessment of the 2018-19 Fish Deaths in the Lower Darlingwas also released this week.
Chaired by Professor Robert Vertessy FTSE, the review found:
“The fish death events in the lower Darling were preceded and affected by exceptional climatic conditions… amplified by climate change.
“Water extractions from the tributaries of the Barwon-Darling have a much greater impact on Menindee inflows than extractions directly from the Barwon-Darling River.”
“Both reports have recommended urgent preventative and restorative measures, and ongoing scientific support to restore health to the river system,” Professor Johnston said.
“STA commends the bipartisan quest for scientific evidence and expert recommendations to inform decisions for the future of the Murray-Darling, and calls for swift action to address this significant threat to important ecosystems.”
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