Menindee Lakes Fish Kill

Fish Kill at Lake Menindee 7 Jan 2019.
Fish Kill at Menindee Lakes. 7 January 2019 by Debbie Newell.

The fish kills on the Darling River and at Menindee Lakes in Western NSW have been getting a lot of media attention and feelings are running hot within Australia and overseas. Politicians, both NSW State and Federal, have been running for cover, blaming the severe drought, rather than water mismanagement.

While I’d like to lambast politicians for their failings, in this case, it’s not going to achieve much. The problems with the Darling River are already so serious that political failings are becoming our responsibilities; once the consequences and recovery costs flow through the economy. There’s not the time for a blame game. As things stand, we can’t rely on our leaders to work for the health of the Murray-Darling Basin without bringing public pressure to bear. Lack of action on a leadership level calls out for more grass-roots action. However, being able to exert public pressure requires an educated cross-section of the public with a consensus direction on what needs to be done.

For the above public educational reasons, I’m requesting support for the development of a Fishkill 2 learning module which is based upon Fishkill that ran successfully with 1st-year Natural Resource Science students at the Queensland University of Technology  (QUT) for nearly a decade (2000-8). Fishkill 2 needs to be developed from the now antiquated original Fishkill as a community-based project, using new source material, an accessible online format and an expansion of the learning modules and scenarios to include lessons gained from the Menindee Lakes Fishkill.

Support Fish Kill ver. 2 Citizen Science Project

Help me fundraise to support a community version of the Fish Kill online eLearning Module that is sleek, modern and independently-sourced (suggested: multiples of $25).


I’m also recommending that we can all help to prevent a reoccurrence by arming ourselves with a better understanding of fish kills and why they occur. We citizens need to equip ourselves with the knowledge needed to question and publically bring to account the leaders of our various communities, kicking and screaming if necessary.

Indeed, there might be kicking and screaming: National Party leader (and acting PM for part of this period) Michael McCormack, has dismissively said that we just need to wait for the rain to fix the problem. Surely, we have a right to expect that our elected representatives will show a much better understanding of the problems that affect their electorates?

Unfortunately, Michael McCormack’s statement just a sign of a much larger scale problem: a general lack of understanding of the basic ecology and environment of our own country that we claim to be so proud of come Australia Day. Another aspect of this problem is the deep divide that prevents country and city people from understanding one another. Circumstances like that at Menindee,  only ferment further mistrust between country and city.

In Australia it’s a given, that water needs careful management. So why are our leaders acting like desperate gambling addicts betting the farm (literally in this case) on future rain?

Every Aussie primary school student knows the words of Dorothea Mackellar about Australia being a land: “of droughts and flooding rains.” It’s a given, that water needs careful management. So why are our leaders acting like desperate gambling addicts betting the farm (literally in this case) on future rain?


[1] Paul Karp and Gareth Hutchens, “‘It just hasn’t rained’: Michael McCormack blames drought for Murray-Darling fish killThe Guardian, available online, published 17 January; accessed: 18 January.


2 Replies to “Menindee Lakes Fish Kill”

  1. I sure hope the government gets on this horrible issue. It will not get better on its own. Our little town had a dry cleaner 5 decades ago that dumped his chemical and we are still dealing with it at the present time. Thank you, Mark, for bringing this to our attention.

    1. Thanks, Marianne. The original FishKill learning scenario that was developed had a sister project called “ChemSpill” which was never developed. You remind me to include the online learning scenario ChemSpill in my todo list. I’ll make sure it includes incidents like the one you mention.

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