Locals urged to help prevent fish kills

Heavy rainfall combined with hot sunny days could increase the chances of fish kills in the lower Burdekin’s creeks and wetlands.

NQ Dry Tropics Wetlands Team Leader Scott Fry said recent rain had sparked movement of native species such as barramundi and mangrove jack, which migrate between the ocean and inland creeks as part of their lifecycle.

“The sound of rainfall and flowing creeks provides a trigger for adult fish to head to saltwater to breed, and for juveniles to move upstream seeking safer habitat in freshwater lagoons away from ocean predators, Mr Fry said.

“These fish thrive in clean water with high oxygen levels, however, water flowing from the land during flood pulses transports organic matter into the creeks, reducing water quality.

“Oxygen levels deplete as this plant material decomposes, and hot weather compounds the problem because warmer water holds less oxygen.

“The risk is especially high on windless days because there are no waves to mix oxygen back into the water column.”

Mr Fry urged locals to be on the lookout for early warning signs of a potential fish kill, such as fish close to the water surface or gulping for air.

“If you spot fish in distress, please report it to the Department of Environment and Science by calling 1300 130 372,” he said.

“Spraying water into a creek using a portable pump or hose can be an effective way to raise oxygen levels by breaking the water surface and increasing circulation.”

NQ Dry Tropics has worked with the Burdekin Fish Restocking Association (BFRA) in the past to help fish survive during these events.

To learn more about how you can help, contact BFRA president Michael Detenon on 0423 233 567, or by popping in to About Town Bait and Tackle, Ayr.